Originally published in Comfort Zone Newsletter: February 2010
HSPs are genetically more vulnerable to depression, but also more susceptible to influences that protect against depression. See the last Comfort Zone issue for the article on responsiveness: Under the right conditions, your genes can make you more socially competent, resilient, and able to enjoy life than a nonsensitive person in the same environment. I think we will find that even after childhood, sensitive persons benefit more than others from a good environment (from having skilled teachers, managers at work, etc.). In a good healing environment, maybe they even heal faster from their childhood troubles than other people would.
Most depression passes in a few hours or days. To count as a “major depressive episode” you would have to be depressed most of every day, most days during a continuous two-week period. You would have to have five of this list of nine signs: finding no pleasure in things, insomnia, sudden weight loss or gain, being either slowed down or more agitated than usual, feeling worthless or constantly guilty, fatigue, trouble concentrating, or recurring thoughts of suicide.
Major depression is usually quite treatable, and it should be treated. The more episodes of major depression, the harder each one will be to treat, and the more vulnerable you would be to heart disease and many other stress-related disorders, and the list of those keeps getting longer. (However, it looks like neither stress nor depression increases the risk of cancer.) Although medications are no better than placebos for treating mild depression, they can stop a major depressive episode from recurring.
You don’t have to be alone with it. Research shows that the best treatment for major depression is medication and psychotherapy together. Medication alone is not as effective. (In the case of major depression, therapy alone may not work either.)
Insecurity about close relationships is often at the bottom of a depression, but that can be fixed. Major depression is usually the result of a troubled childhood, especially an insecure attachment to care givers during the first few years of life. It’s difficult to do, but it is possible to become what is called an “earned secure” through a consistently secure relationship in adulthood.
Most depression is the result of defeats (insecurity – being unable to control another – is a common form of defeat). One good treatment is to spend more time in noncompetitive atmospheres. You can see this in animals. After a defeat, they, like you, “slink off with their tail between their legs.” All the physiological indicators of depression are there. This “involuntary defeat response” keeps you from staying in a conflict and being hurt worse. Too many defeats, or if you keep imagining defeats, then you will develop chronic depression. To solve it, get out of those competitive environments where you have to fear being judged, rejected, or seen as a failure, and stay around those who like you.
Electrical treatments for depression can help a great deal (the brain uses electrical impulses), and they lack the side effects of medications. Chemical treatments gained popularity because they seemed easier and cheaper, plus the electrical methods were still clumsy and too strong. There are now simple electrical treatments you can do at home involving very low voltage. They can dramatically improve depression, although they may not entirely replace medication. (These need to be prescribed and overseen by a doctor or therapist, to be certain it is suitable for you.) Check out alpha-stim.com.