I had two recent interactions around depression and anxiety that you might find illuminating.
The first was an email by a female executive. She wrote, “I have been dealing with depression my entire life while climbing up the corporate ladder. I don’t need to do anything, I think. Don’t you agree?” The next was a phone call with a senior professional. He said, “My company is laying people off. My job is safe for now. I am not feeling well. Feel haggard, cranky, and cannot sleep well. My mind keeps going blank. My wife is worried about me. I just want to be left alone. How do I shake off my sadness and gloomy feelings?” I subsequently supported each client’s healing journey.
Since the release of my book, “You Are Not Depressed. You Are Un-Finished.” in May of 2023, individuals from across the world have reached out, seeking answers. I feel honored to be of help, an affirmation of my life’s mission. Let me explain my perspectives.
“It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there because it’s not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. Depression is that cold absence of feeling—that really hollowed-out feeling.”
—As J.K. Rowling
Experiences of sadness and depression often interact with anxiety. It may feel like an indistinguishable mess of emotional despair. Healing quickens with more accurate teasing out of emotions.
Being sad is a normal reaction to difficult times and life transitions. It feels like being sorrowful, gloomy, and heartbroken. The body feels warmer, on the edge, and restless due to elevated stress hormones and fight & flight mobilization. It’s the emotional signal of the ending of a life phase and the upcoming changes. Sadness often dissipates over time.
Depression is different. Depression, at its core, is a sense of loss and grieving for lives with unfulfilled emotional needs, as documented by the extensive research in my book. Depression engulfs the whole person—compromising how you feel, think, love, work, interact, and handle daily activities. It feels like a system shutdown, emptiness, or hopelessness—angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration, even over small matters. The body begins to feel frostier, and sluggish due to compromised circulation and hormonal imbalance. The onset of lingering physical aches and pains. Depression causes gastrointestinal complications (women mostly), and cardiovascular complications (men mostly).
Sadness – Depression Continuum
Sadness and depression follow a progressive pattern, not necessarily linear. Each experience of loss and mourning generates its emotional impact. This pattern is illustrated below.
Loss of Something—Loss of a job, loss of status, financial difficulties, accidents, natural disasters. The source of loss and situational. Predominant emotions are anxiety and sadness—one rebound over time.
Loss of Someone—Death of a loved one, separations, breakups, divorce, death of a dear pet.
The source of loss is situational. Predominant emotions are anxiety and sadness—one rebound over time. Temporary depression or grief may emerge.
Loss of Fulfillment—The most consequential phase. Experienced by so many people. Depression and anxiety are cemented. One feels lonely, hopeless, isolated, and grieving. Experiences of depression and anxiety are personal and painful. The attachment bonds and separation anxiety are triggered.
Loss of Agency—Overtures toward fulfillment, and meaningful changes are unfruitful. The source of loss is existential. Grief is painful. Rebounding requires self-compassion and richer social and emotional support. Suicidal thoughts may emerge at this stage.
Loss of Self—Self-authoring behaviors are scant, and a sense of emotional surrender sets in. There are persistent emotions of self-doubt, guilt, shame, and meandering. Emotional resignation and numbness build up. Rebounding requires core identity and lifestyle restoration. Suicidal thoughts may emerge at this stage.
A BETTER APPROACH
Today’s customary mental health treatment of depression as a mood disorder only yields limited and fleeting outcomes. We can do better.
You can achieve better, faster, and more enduring outcomes by reexamining and restoring your Emotional Rights to reverse depression and sadness.
Why? Emotional struggles (e.g., depression, anxiety, bipolar, ADHD, PTSD) are about broken hearts, not broken minds. Emotional struggles are consequences, not causes. They are expressions, not afflictions.
Reversing depression directly correlates with fulfilling your Emotional Rights. The seven Emotional Rights are: I Belong, I Am Complete, I Am Boundless, I Matter, I Make, I Am, and I Soar.
Fulfilling these emotional rights dissolves depression.
I’d welcome your thoughts.
I welcome working with you individually or your team, joining your retreats, strategy sessions, or delivering keynotes.
ARDESHIR MEHRAN, PH.D.
- Ardeshir is a psychologist, behavioral researcher, business leader, and executive and team coach.
- Life mission: Eradicate depression from humanity. Live fuller lives, and depressions dissipate.
- He is the developer of “The Bill of Emotional Rights” and the author of the Amazon new-release bestseller, “You Are Not Depressed. You Are Un-Finished.” The book became an Amazon New Release bestseller and has already sold in the US, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia.
- Senior professionals seek Ardehir’s help to awaken their dormant emotions and bodies to live life fully, boldly, and passionately.
With love and gratitude.