People do what works for them or they wouldn’t do it.  All of our behavior serves the purpose of satisfying the needs of happiness or pleasure.  It could also be said that our chosen behavior serves to ease unhappiness: The sadness and grief of depression.  Granted, you may not be able to see how the choices people make will ever serve to make them feel better.  This is because you can’t see or understand how their depressing is alleviating their unhappiness.   While what they choose to do to deal with their depressing may not appear to be effective, their choice does make their unhappiness somewhat better than if they did nothing.

Some individuals feel so helpless and frustrated that they seek the help from others.  They feel they have become victims of something or someone bad, unjust, or villainous.  They have worn out their personal resources on how to resolve their unhappiness so now they walk and talk and look like someone who is beaten down.  They don’t want to have to ask you for help but they sure would like to know if you have any ideas because they have exhausted all of their own.  They may sigh if you come near them.  If not, you can tell by their facial expressions and body language that they are hurting somehow.  And since we don’t like to see anyone suffer, most of us will say to them, “are you Okay?  Is there anything I can do?  What’s wrong?”  And now they have just satisfied a need . . . the need for help without actually coming out and asking for it.  When you feel that someone cares to respond to your sadness, it feels better than no one responding at all.  Some people may tend to suffer alone but don’t necessarily want to.  They have a hard time disguising their unhappiness. When others want to help or co-miserate, they don’t feel as if they are alone so much.  If continued, even their best friends may choose to  become irritated towards their constant sadness.  Misery loves company.  But company doesn’t love misery.

Have you ever been so angry or hurt that you were frightened about what you might do either to someone else or to yourself?  Anger is fear displayed outwardly.  In this case, the fear would be of what might become of you and your future, what you might lose materially, what someone might impose upon your values and beliefs, fear of loss of life or love, fear of abandonment, or loss of respect from others.  Anger displayed inwardly becomes depression.  One can not be angry and depressed simultaneously.  They may quickly move from one emotion to the other but they can not be displayed at the same time. Those who move in and out of anger to depression are people labeled Bipolar. So ones anger turned inwardly keeps their anger in check and from doing harm to self or others.  And this can be seen as a good thing or benefit of depression.  But a person can become so unhappy and feel they have exhausted all of their options, and that there are no answers to their unhappiness.  Then they “detach” from self and others. It is this detachment that can lead to suicidal ideations.

The third reason why people choose to depress is one that I believe to be the most common reason:  The refusal or denial of accepting the reality of a given situation. Doing so would require that they do something about the situation that they don’t want to do, or because they don’t know how to do it.  This reason can be applied to almost any given situation especially those of a wife who lives with a spouse beater; someone married to an alcoholic; dealing with a child on drugs; the discovery of  a cheating spouse; a divorce or relationship breakup; being passed over for a promotion; losing one’s job, the death of a loved one, etc.. In any of these examples it becomes obvious that something needs to be done to overcome their sadness.  They have tried everything that they can think of to alleviate their sadness short of what really needs to be done. . . to accept it for what it is and take actions that will make their life happier.

We humans are hardy animals at times.  We can put up with a lot of things that cause unhappiness (an unsatisfying relationship with someone else).  We tolerate it and can even become complacent in uncomfortable situations.  There are those who choose to live a life of unhappiness because they don’t want to do what they know they need to do or they don’t know how to do it.  To them, it is easier to live unhappily in a situation that they have become accustomed to and know what to expect rather than to make changes and enter a new world of uncertainty and unknowns.  As inane as it sounds, some people would rather suffer than accept the fact of reality such as the end of a marriage or relationship.  The constant hope that the other person will either feel sorry for them or have a change of heart keeps them choosing to depress.  How healthy would a love relationship be if your partner only felt pity for you?

One of my favorite stories is of a young man walking down the street who suddenly begins to hear a terrible moaning and groaning sound.  He continues to walk toward the sound to discover who or what is causing it.  He soon finds himself in front of an old man sitting on his front porch reading his newspaper, and lying next to him is an old hound dog.  The young man asks, “Is that your dog making those moaning and groaning sounds?”  The old man replied, “yup.”  The younger man asked “what’s wrong with him?”  The old man responded, “he’s layin’ on a nail.”  The young man asked the obvious question:  “Why doesn’t he get up and move?”  The old man says, “Cause he ain’t hurtin’ bad enough yet.”

It seems that only when we become sick and tired of feeling tired and sick do we do anything about our unhappiness.  And even then, the choices many choose to alleviate their unhappiness are to drink alcohol, use street drugs, or take medications that have absolutely no curative powers but will create a REAL, and possibly permanent, chemical imbalance of their brain.  When a person feels they have tried everything they know to do and nothing works, they can be very creative. They may find that by choosing to anxiety, obsess, or develop behaviors that a therapist would diagnose as a personality disorder seem to help.  Some may resort to indiscriminant sex, agoraphobia, excessive spending, hoarding, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorders, fibromyalgia, and other somataform illnesses.

While most people observing someone behaving in the ways mentioned above, they would only be focusing on how unusual or unnatural these behaviors are and come to the conclusion that they are mentally ill and need to be medicated in order to behave “normally.”  What is not recognized in the person’s behavior is that they have chosen to do these behaviors because they are satisfying a need . . . the need to feel less unhappy and frustrated than if they didn’t do them at all.  There is no pill that will “cure” depression.  But there are 3 things  a person can do to rid themselves of depression.

Coming Soon:  How Can I Overcome My Depression?

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