When Depression Is a Symptom of Buried Anger: Here’s How To Heal It

 / 

, ,
When Depression Is a Symptom of Buried Anger

Written by: Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW, author of It’s Not Always Depression

Trauma was always a word I associated with a catastrophic event: a car accident, a war experience, child abuse, or being a victim of crime. So, it was an “aha” moment to learn that symptoms of trauma, like depression, could be caused by repeated instances of emotional disregard. Childhood emotional neglect comes in many forms and is more common than one would hope.

Having anxiety and depression is like being scared

Below are a few examples of emotional disregard:

1. Rachel, 8 years old, was scared to go to school. Her father repeatedly told her there was nothing to be afraid of and that she shouldn’t be a “scaredy-cat.” Dad didn’t ask what she feared or spend any time trying to understand Rachel’s fear from her point of view.

2. Johnny told his mother he hated his little brother and was sorry he was born. The next moment, a hard slap across the face stunned him. Johnny was told never to speak in such a hateful way again.

3. Barb, age 12, kicked the winning goal in soccer. She got in the car riding high with emotions like excitement, joy, and pride in herself for playing a great game. Her mother, instead of matching her enthusiasm with a big proud smile, immediately pointed out the “ugly” red juice stain on her shirt. She was devastated.

Read 5 Ways Childhood Emotional Neglect Causes Depression in Adulthood

When our emotions are invalidated, we experience a crushing insult. And, it evokes anger and even rage, depending on how young we were when the emotional neglect began plus how often it occurred.

Children Who Grow Up in Stressful Environments

David, a former client of mine, grew up with parents who bristled at emotional displays. As a child, when David cried, he was told he had nothing to be sad about or to “chin up!” When David was scared, he was told to stop being such a baby. When he was excited, he was told to cool it. When he was angry at his parents, they got insulted and left him alone. They never asked What’s the matter? How do you feel? or, Are you ok?

David, now 30, showed up in therapy with depression. Blaming himself for his anguish, he described a privileged upbringing with parents who provided well for him. Attending private schools and being given a generous allowance, he was truly grateful to his parents for their gifts.

We soon discovered that part of what led to his depression was the conflict between positive and negative feelings for his parents. He found it hard to validate his emotions. Guilt, an inhibitory emotion on the Change Triangle, left his anger, a core emotion, buried and festering. Most people don’t realize that we can be grateful to our parents for giving us life, financial security, and for making sacrifices, and, at the exact same time, feel angry at them for not meeting our emotional needs. This understanding helps us embrace our complex and conflicting emotional worlds.

As David grew from a teenager to a young adult, his depression got worse. This makes sense because his anger was still suppressed. To squash anger down, the mind enlists inhibitory emotions like anxiety, guilt, and shame, which are effective at keeping anger out of conscious awareness. But they also feel awful and undermine confidence and well-being. Furthermore, the cost of chronically suppressing anger is depression. The energy needed for vital living and outside engagement gets diverted to keeping rage pushed down so that we don’t lose control or lash out.

depression

Read How To Grow Up Mentally: 15 Simple Tips

Healing Depression By Releasing Rage

One effective way to ease and even heal depression is by releasing the enormous burden of our visceral rage. How is this done?

Anger portrayals, a technique common in accelerated experiential dynamic psychotherapy (AEDP), are extremely therapeutic. In a nutshell, anger portrayals guide a person in identifying anger in their body. Anger typically is felt as heat, energy, and tension. Then, by noticing and staying with the physical sensations inherent in the core emotion of anger, impulses and images emerge, like a movie. Allowing

the movie to unfold in real-time, the person gives themself permission to envision exactly what the anger wants to do to those who hurt them. In this way, anger comes up and out, and symptoms of depression remit.

Sometimes guilty feelings make it hard to validate and fully experience anger. In the beginning, when David first started to connect with his inner rage, another guilty part of him would leap up and stop the anger from coming up: “But they did so much for me. I’m so grateful for all the good things they did.”

There’s so much emphasis on gratitude these days that it is important to know that we can hold opposite and conflicting truths at the same time. “David,” I said during one session, “let’s fully validate the gratitude and love you have for your parents, and, for just right now, can we ask for the gratitude, love, and any other feelings you have to step back while we tend to the anger inside?”

Read The Shortest Ultimate Guide To Dealing With Emotions

Rage portrayals work because, as research shows, when it comes to processing emotions, the brain doesn’t really know the difference between fantasy and reality. Imagining what our rage wants to do and then carrying that out in fantasy allows the energy of the rage to come up and out. No longer are forces required to hold down that anger, so energy becomes available again for vital living. The best part about anger portrayals is that no one gets hurt because it’s all happening in imagination.

under the anger

Depression is the beginning of a story, not the end. It is a symptom that tells us that something deep inside needs tending, be it anger, fear, sadness, or more. And when we tend to ourselves and our deepest truths, we recover stronger and wiser. We no longer need to fear our emotions but can use them along with our logic and reason to meet life’s challenges in the direction of our deepest wants and needs.

Patient details have been changed to protect confidentiality.

For free resources on emotions, visit hilaryjacobshendel.com


References:
Fosha, D. (2000). The Transforming Power of Affect: A Model for Accelerated Change. New York: Basic Books

Fosha, D., Siegel, D., Solomon, M. (2009). The Healing Power of Emotion: Affective Neuroscience, Development & Clinical Practice (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology). New York: W.W. Norton

Hendel, H.J. (2018). It’s Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self. New York: Spiegel & Grau
Originally appeared on: Psychology Today
Republished with permission
When Depression Is a Symptom of Buried Anger pin
When Depression Is a Symptom pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply



Up Next

How To Overcome Daily Acute Anxiety: 5 Practical Tools for Immediate Stress Relief

How To Overcome Daily Acute Anxiety: Practical Tools

The modern day life is a fast paced whirlwind that throws numerous things at us at every corner. In such situations it is not uncommon to experience acute anxiety on a daily basis. We are constantly challenged by looming deadlines, towering lists of work at home and many such things which can act as triggers for anxiety.

However there are coping strategies that you can use for anxiety management at times like these.

Related: The Power Of Art Therapy For Anxiety Management : 6 Techniques That Bring Relief

U



Up Next

Do You Have Anxiety Or Something Else? 9 Health Conditions That Are Similar To Anxiety

Health Conditions That Are Similar To Anxiety

Do you constantly feel on edge, tense, or worried? Maybe you experience a racing heartbeat, sweating, or shakiness that you just can’t seem to shake. If this sounds all too familiar, you may be dealing with anxiety. But did you know there are several other health conditions that are similar to anxiety?

Let’s dive into 9 different health issues that can feel a lot like anxiety. From hormonal imbalances to electrolyte issues, these conditions can easily be mistaken for an anxiety disorder as they often have the same symptoms of anxiety.

Knowing the differences between anxiety and these look-alike conditions is key to getting the right treatment and feeling better. Let’



Up Next

Eggshell Parenting Meaning: 5 Signs You’re Making These Mistakes!

Eggshell Parenting: Signs You're Making These Mistakes!

Parenting is one of the most sincere tasks in every individual’s life that should be done with utmost care and coherence. However, the relationship between parents and their children is often tampered by the mental, and behavioral issues of the parents.

Thus, mood disorders and the violent nature of parents can affect the child’s life. Eggshell parenting is one such consequence. In this blog, we will guide you to understand eggshell parenting and show you the risky spots you should avoid.

What is Eggshell Parenting?  



Up Next

How To Become Less Anxious: 9 Tips To Deal With Anxiety

How To Become Less Anxious: Tips To Deal With Anxiety

Are you tired of feeling overwhelmed, trapped in the clutches of anxiety? Do you want a life filled with tranquility? If so, let’s find out how to become less anxious.

What Exactly Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a universal human emotion that can manifest as a persistent and overwhelming feeling of fear, worry, or unease. 

However, it’s important to recognize that anxiety is a normal part of life and most people experience it occasionally. When anxiety becomes persistent, excessive and a constant companion, hindering our daily activities and o



Up Next

5 Identifying Signs Of Destination Anxiety: Know Before You Go

Signs of Destination Anxiety: Know Before You Go

Have you ever experienced that unsettling feeling before going on a trip? The mix of excitement and apprehension that seems to linger in the pit of your stomach? If so, you might have encountered destination anxiety. Let’s explore the signs of destination anxiety.

Whether you’re planning a dream vacation, a business trip, or even a simple weekend getaway, destination anxiety can cast a shadow over your travel experience. Let’s explore the signs, causes, types, and impact of destination anxiety, offering insights and tips to help you navigate this emotional journey with ease.

What is Destination Anxiety?

Destination



Up Next

“Why Do I Hate Talking On The Phone?”: 7 Signs You Might Be Dealing With Phone Anxiety

Why Do I Hate Talking On The Phone? Signs Of Phone Anxiety

Do you ever find yourself rolling your eyes and letting out an exasperated sigh when your phone starts ringing or buzzing? Do you feel dread at the mere thought of having to make or receive a phone call and try to find out how to avoid talking on the phone? If you’ve ever said these words to yourself, “Why do I hate talking on the phone?” with frustration, you’re not alone.

There are many people out there who feel the same as you, and hate talking on the phone. And it turns out, there’s a very valid reason behind feeling this way, and that’s phone anxiety.

Today, we are going to talk about phone anxiety and the signs you hate talking on the phone, so that the frequency of you asking “why do I hate talking on the phone” lessens. So, are you ready to know more about this? Let’s get started, then.



Up Next

10 Warning Signs Of Abandonment Issues In Adults And How To Heal From The Pain

Warning Signs Of Abandonment Issues In Adults

Imagine you are sitting in a bustling coffee shop surrounded by lively conversations, and laughter filling the air. There’s a group of people that catches your eye. They seem to radiate an invisible energy, an unspoken longing for reassurance and connection. Welcome to the world of adults struggling with abandonment issues. Today, we are going to talk about the signs of abandonment issues in adults.

We’ve all heard the phrase “abandonment issues” tossed around, but what does it really mean for grown-ups? They are actually the hidden battles that play out beneath the surface, and which end up shaping your emotions, relationships and self-perception.

Let’s explore some of the biggest signs of abandonment issues in adults, and how the fear of abandonment influences their lives.