If you try to research the subject, it appears that spiritual and clinical depressions are worlds apart and is not least expressed by the language used to describe either state. One uses the language of medical and psychological science, the other calls on spiritual metaphors.
In my practice I am working quite a bit with people suffering from clinical depression and of late I am more and more able to make the distinction.
Depression is a syndrome, which means the presence of certain symptoms indicative of low levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter with an important role for the proper functioning of the central nervous system, heart and circulation, appetite and digestion, sleep and mood (just to mention the most important). Depression is a state of exhaustion and with exception of the rare cases of a primary imbalance of the neuro-transmitters in the brain, mostly brought about by chronic stress due to external factors like environmental influences or life-style choices, but mostly caused by inner conflict. It is important to understand that stress is not a unilateral event induced by one thing, but mostly the culmination of many contributing factors. Symptoms of depression include, but are not limited to, fatigue, loss of interest and motivation, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite and weight and many more. In treating depression holistically, it is important to identify all the reasons that may have contributed to the physical, mental, emotional and energetic break-down and – in co-operation with the afflicted person – look for the underlying cause. The good news about depression is that it can be treated successfully, even healed if the depressed person is inclined to take stock and is ready to change.
Healing depression is all about change. The cause of depression is mostly stress – which is marked by resistance, or high levels of stress hormones, that keep the body in a state of contraction and imbalanced metabolism, and to understand the reasons and causes for stress does help to identify the factors that need changing or adaptation, in order to achieve a better and healthier balance. The pillars of treating this kind of depression is to recognise the causes for stress, the right diet to help the body to re-energise, methods for relaxation, as well as understanding the role of emotions and expectations in terms of creating inner conflict. Allopathic and homeopathic medication and methods may be of great value and I use them based on individual need.
What I discover tough in many of these patients are signs of being ready to take a step towards awakening. So I very often introduce them to certain practices, like conscious breathing, non-judgement or even spiritual literature. To me, many of these “clinical depressions” have a strong spiritual component and the art of counselling is to figure out how far each individual is ready to go in terms of change. Sometimes this is just a more healthy routine in terms of eating and exercising, at other times it includes a quite intensive counselling in terms of letting go of anxiety or anger, as well as inner conflicts. Not one is like the other, but meanwhile I can tell, if someone is ready for a transformation.
So this “normal” type of depression, which is basically exhaustion, very often is a spiritual depression in terms of having run out of rope and letting the defences down. Even more so, I observe this in people suffering from addiction and virtually all of them suffering from depression.
Spiritual depression in the literal sense is about letting go and being ready for awakening and there may be many different layers for this. There certainly is the turning point of realising the possibility of a life lived by the paradigm of love, instead of fear. There may be the symptoms and conditions in association with the energetic changes of awakening, that often go along with symptoms of depression, pain or disease. Or it may even be indicative of the a state of yielding, the turning to the inner self and neglecting the outer for a while.
The important thing is to recognise the symptoms of awakening and offer counsel and assistance. I am seeing these symptoms in people who are on the spiritual path, and I see them in those who have never been interested in spiritual matters. I see them in religious people and I see them in atheists. I see them in young people, I see them in mid-life and I see them in old age. They all have different paths, different life stories and different challenges. So they all need a highly individualised approach and what really works in my experience is to help them to turn to themselves and listen to themselves how to best untangle the many strings and knots that keep them in darkness.
Spiritual depression is primarily an energetic imbalance and this is why energetic methods – like acupuncture, energetic exercise or even homeopathy help very much. It is also important to understand that the body is changing when more consciousness is coming through the system – much like turning up the voltage, and this can in turn also lead to mysterious symptoms.
Teaching people to listen to their own body and to tap into their own inner wisdom, seems to be the most important action anyone can take when facing symptoms of the multi-facetted condition of spiritual depression.