Some people find that depression is blighting their lives. They wake up in the morning feeling that they can hardly face the day. Life feels like an uphill struggle and devoid of pleasure.

The roots of depression are usually deep in childhood. Our early experiences remain with us in the form of feeling states, deeply held beliefs, and habitual ways of functioning. A harsh attitude towards yourself, for example, both expresses and perpetuates depression.

Recovering from depression requires a deeper inquiry into your inner life and processes. I believe that depression needs to be brought into relation with another person, the deep sadness heard and responded to empathically, and the causes understood. Gradually some movement can come about where there was inertia and repetition. You can find better ways of functioning and learn to support yourself.

Sometimes important feelings and needs have been suppressed and denied, and these need to be brought into the open. The loss or absence of a person you needed in childhood, for example, can be an underlying cause. The absence can be an emotional absence, even when the person was physically still present. For example, a woman who loses her husband might struggle to cope with her own feelings, and with the practicalities of providing for herself and her children alone, and therefore become less emotionally available for her children. The child copes as best he or she can, but perhaps by ‘battening down the hatches’ and suppressing feelings. This limited functioning works up to a point, but eventually may restrict development and become visible in later life events.