Identify the Individualized Causes of Your Depression


No two depressions are alike. Like thumbprints, they are exquisitely individual, with unique variations from person to person. Even within the same individual, two episodes of depression, occurring at different times in life, can be very different than one another - having a different combination of causes and influences.  

That is why, even in the same individual, what works to ease one depressive episode may be useless or even counter-productive in dealing with another episode. On the other hand, some factors causing depression may recur over and over again until they are resolved. In that instance, individuals can be benefited by remembering strategies that helped them through the last hard season, and re-applying them.

 ThumbprintDepressions, then - even within the same individual - are as unique as snowflakes. Literally, no two are alike - and it is vitally important to understand the full range of causes that can trigger and maintain this depression, in this circumstance, with this individual, in order to create effective resolution.

Over my twenty-plus-year career as a counselor and mental health educator, I have found it useful to identify causal factors with the help of an instrument I created for that purpose. I call it "The Diamond." It pulls together insights from many different treatment systems, and blends them into a single, integrative model that can be used to first assess, then treat, then prevent a wide range of emotional difficulties, including depression.

Here in Step 2, we will use "The Diamond" as a tool for identifying the individualized causes of depression. In Step 3, we will use the Diamond to plan a healing process; and in Step 4, we'll use it to help shore up emotional wellness, to help prevent future depressive episodes.

The Diamond - A Tool for Understanding the Causes of Your Depression

hammer--The Diamond is a practical tool that is useful for many purposes. Like a hammer or screwdriver, once you learn to use it for one purpose, it becomes easier and more natural to use it for others.

Here we will use it to identify the various factors that trigger, complicate, and perpetuate your depression. Remember - your depression is different than another individual's; and this particular depressive episode is different than others you yourself may have experienced. Each depressive episode will have a different set of causes (though there may be some similarities from episode from episode), and should be assessed individually, with care and respect - and with sufficient time to do a comprehensive assessment.

Whereas the "TV version" of depression, popularized through paid product advertising, suggests that depression is something that randomly "happens" to you, when something inexplicably "misfires" in your brain, that you must thereafter "manage" with the advertised product - the truth is much more understandable and hopeful than that.

DiamondThe truth is that depression tends to follow a very logical, sequential progression through a series of causal factors, symbolized in "The Diamond." Each causal factor leads to the next, one after another. Then, if uninterrupted, the cycle repeats back around, again and again. This cycling can cycle through an individual's lifetime.

It can also create depressive cycles infamilies and relationships, in which one person's depressive cycle kicks off another person's cycle - and so on, and so on. (Depression is notoriously "contagious," for that very reason.) It's a cycle that can – and must – be interrupted, for the emotional health of individuals and families.

Let's explore the cycle of causes, element by element - beginning with the first:

Arrow Red1-Triggers> 2-Thoughts > 3-Behavior > 4-Impact


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