There are a lot of different treatments for depression and anxiety available. There are also a lot of different things that can cause depression and anxiety.
Sometimes feelings of depression and anxiety are brought about by circumstances. For example, an employee whose company is struggling in the recession may feel anxious about the possibility of a job lay-off. A job seeker who has been unsuccessful in finding work may begin to feel discouraged and depressed about their employment prospects as the months continue to pass. In these situations, feelings of mild to moderate anxiety and depression may decrease on their own when circumstances improve.
In contrast, a large number of individuals find that feelings of depression or anxiety tend to be recurrent throughout their lives. These adults often have meaningful lives, loving families and rewarding careers. Yet negative thoughts and emotions seem to inexplicably creep back into their lives every so often, leaving them perplexed and searching for lasting solutions. After talking to these adults in-depth and exploring their histories with them, many psychotherapists find that attachment wounds from childhood and unhealed disturbing events are the two most common causes of recurrent depression or anxiety.
The #1 Cause of Recurrent Depression & Anxiety: Attachment Wounds
First, let me explain the importance of attachment. As psychologists have studied the development of infants and children intensively over the past fifty years, it has become obvious that every young human has undeniable, nonnegotiable attachment needs. Essentially these needs are to be nurtured in a safe, loving, and predictable environment. When children are subjected to stress and chaos, ignored, neglect or endure any form of abuse, their attachment needs are often not being met and an attachment wound occurs. Something essential to happiness and security is missing. These children often experience stress, anxiety and depression, predisposing them to such emotions later in life.
These attachment wounds often damage one’s self-esteem, causing a child to falsely conclude that they’re unimportant or that they’re being mistreated because they’re a “bad kid”. These negative beliefs about oneself often follow an individual into adulthood, causing recurrent depression or anxiety until treated with psychotherapy.
The #2 Cause of Recurrent Depression & Anxiety: Unresolved Disturbing Events
Disturbing events often leave one with a damaged sense of self-esteem and negative emotions that frequently become “stuck” in the nervous system. After a disturbing event, one often develops a distorted sense of personal responsibility, of a lack of safety in the world, or a distorted belief that they had a choice in the matter. For example, a child who hid in the other room while an abusive father struck their mother may feel a distorted sense of responsibility and feel guilty for not intervening during the fight, even though they knew they had to hide for their own safety. Regardless of whether these thoughts are conscious or unconscious, these negative beliefs about oneself also damage self-esteem and can cause recurrent depression, anxiety, or other post-traumatic symptoms if left untreated.
Imperfect families and disturbing events are common human experience. Fortunately, psychotherapy is proven to be highly effective in helping folks identify the root causes of their feelings of depression and anxiety and assist them in healing. This is especially true for holistic forms of therapy such as EMDR that incorporate the information stored in the body as well as in the mind.