Depression is a moment of existential crisis of the individual.
It is necessary to distinguish moments of depression following particular painful events (e.g. a separation, bereavement) from a depressive state itself.
In the first case the person has to process the grief of what has happened, maintaining, however, a certain stability in his psychic organization and a reasonably solid self esteem.
In the second case far more back-dated emotional experiences are at the origin of the loss and the individual experiences a profound lack of self-esteem characterized by underestimation, low self-esteem associated with sense of guilt or remorse, a tendency to self-criticism and to blame himself.
The mood will be dominated by a protracted unhappiness, sadness and discouragement, a pessimistic attitude in reading the world and in relating with others, often with strong judging connotations and a tendency for an excessive worry due to an exaggerated practice of rumination.
Let’s start from self-esteem: how does it originate and develop? The worth of the individual originates and is built in the other’s look and therefore thanks to the relationship with the other. Since birth, and even before, the baby interacts with the mother or with whoever takes care of him. The replies which he receives from the other, from then on, will gradually form the value of himself. It is as if the other acts as a mirror for the need of recognition which each of us has.
A need that lasts for the entire life, even if in a different way, according to the life stages of the person.
In relation to the messages received first as a baby and gradually growing as a child he will absorb an idea of who he is, how he is, what are his talents, what he is able to do, and this will build the basis of his self-esteem.
The disappointments which the person will meet in life may be faced provided that there has been the necessary recognition of his own personal capacity as an individual with a sense of self and worth.
In depression one of the dominant emotions is anger that the person unconsciously directs to himself.
In depression the person must realize that he is a holder, in his inner world, of self-destructive parts, and that he is unconsciously allied with parts of himself imprisoning his vitality.
The consideration about depression needs to be addressed to the inner world of the subject, to his composition and relationship dynamics.
The individual is a social being whose sense of himself is characterized by multiple internalized relationships that will form his identity.
The identity of each of us is our history, the relational and sensorial experiences which we have had since our origins, the values which we have acquired, the ideas and thoughts which we have elaborated throughout time, the talents and resources which we have developed.
Our identity is our memory, physical, sensorial, conscious, unconscious.
In the depressed person there is a healthy core which asks for someone to listen, to share the despair into which the individual has plunged.
The therapeutic relationship exactly represents the possibility to welcome both despair and the possibility to tune with the vital parts of the individual to free him from the unhealthy ancient dynamics of his inner world and open him to new relational possibilities, both with himself and others.