Depression & Jungian Analysis

Every school of psychotherapy or psychiatry will have a model of depression and from that model, a series of ways to deal with depression.

Many of the orthodox approaches to depression view the disorder as bad neurochemistry (orthodox psychiatry) and bad thinking (cognitive behavioural). For both of these schools the aim in treatment is to eliminate the symptoms, one with drugs, and the second with cognitive restructuring techniques.

The Jungian approach to depression is fundamentally different. While Jungian Analysts are not anti-drug at all, they do see depression as purposive, and functional. This means that an analyst would want to help alleviate the symptoms of depression but more importantly, deal with why the person suffers from depression in the first place. While drugs may reduce the symptoms of depression, they can’t address why the depression arose in the first place.

To an analyst, a guiding question in dealing with depression is why is the depression happening, and, what is the depression attempting to change in the person’s life? Many depressed people will remove themselves from work, family and social settings, withdraw into solitude, cease daily routines and interests and then spend hours thinking about the depression. From a Jungian perspective one might say that the depression is functional and purposive in that it is leading us to sitting in isolation and pondering deep questions about how we lead our lives. Answering these questions and making changes to the way we live out lives often changes the depression. So we can’t simply drug the symptoms away, we have to ask why the symptoms are there and what changes are being suggested by the depression.

For those of you that feel you are dealing with depression, here are symptoms of depression that you may experience:

  • depressed mood most days
  • change or loss of interest in most daily activities
  • changes in your body weight (up or down 5% in a month)
  • changes in your appetite
  • nighttime insomnia or feeling excessively sleepy during the day
  • feeling listless (some may experience the opposite)
  • feeling fatigued or feeling as though you have lost all your energy
  • feeling that you are worthless or very guilty in some way
  • difficulty remembering or concentrating
  • thoughts of dying, or suicidal thoughts