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How This Lesser-Known Type of Depression Affects Me

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I thought I had affective depression, after dealing with fibromyalgia for the past six years. Turns out, I have another type: congruent depression. I discovered this type after watching this video on Youtube by Dr. K, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and therapist: “Therapist Answers: What is Congruent Depression?

Basically, it’s depression a person feels in a circumstantial way in response to an event or situation. If everything’s going good (you have a good job, an income, good friends, a partner, etc.), but you feel sad, that might be clinical depression. Congruent depression is when there’s a slew of bad things happening all at once. For example, in my case, no job, no friends, not where I want to be living, no book published, no partner, this pandemic, etc.

Some of this, like the pandemic and the economy, I have no control over. I’m an introverted highly sensitive person (HSP) and finding friends who get me is hard, so I really can’t control that either. I have fibromyalgia on top of this and moving will cause a flare. My relationship with my emotionally immature mother who has narcissistic tendencies is also a factor in all this.

In congruent depression, sometimes therapy and prescriptions are more like costly Band-Aids that may or may not help. If you’re still in a place you don’t want to be, you’re still in a toxic relationship, you’re going about your day with nothing to do, it can still feel like you’re not making progress. Often, the solutions to this include things like relocating, breaking off toxic relations, finding a job/quitting a job you hate, making connections with people, learning about yourself and not comparing yourself to others. Using astrology and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I’m learning about myself. So, that’s one thing checked off. I’m working on the others.

Dr. K explained our brains have not caught up to our current sophisticated social systems. Our “purpose” in life was to survive, so that meant doing actual hard labor. Every day. We had very few jobs and we spent an entire day doing our jobs of keeping warm, feeding ourselves, making weapons, tending livestock, making clothes, etc. We didn’t take a drive down to a store and buy food, and then load it into a fridge. Rather, we often went into a field, harvested food and then preserved it for when the snow came. In this way, we all worked together and were connected, which often helped to keep loneliness at bay. Neither did we have the technology and time to snap selfies all day, thus most of our ancestors didn’t struggle with comparison in the same way we do today.

This lack of survival activity leads to boredom, human disconnection and time to compare ourselves to the top dogs of society: celebrities and other top influencers. It’s no surprise when people struggle with their survival (for example, lack of money), there’s an increase in depression, anxiety and suicide. There are sometimes valid reasons for these states to be experienced. This pandemic is making everything worse, and we need to support people who are going through normal patterns of feelings because bad things have happened to them in the past and bad things are going on in the present.

Getty image by Mimomy

Originally published: February 3, 2021
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