Depression and Retreats
anonymous Asks ...
I am depressed I think but I am not into the idea of taking drugs that might affect my personality. I am considering doing a month long meditation retreat as a way to deal with my depression. Is this a good idea? I am not sure if it is me dealing with my problems or me running away from my problems.
Loren Gelberg-Goff Says ...
I applaud your willingness to explore options for dealing with your depression. There can be many reasons for feeling depressed, not all biochemical in nature,but depressed feelings none-the-less. Meditation can be very effective in getting centered, focused and gaining insights into yourself, your feelings and your needs. However, it is not enough on its own.
I hope that you have spoken with a therapist to determine the nature and causes of your depression. Retreats can be a wonderful way to get within yourself to explore who you are from within and come to new awarenesses about yourself, your life and your world. However, I believe that it also depends on the kind of retreat you go on, what support you'll have and what professional interventions would be available to you. All this matters because when you describe yourself as depressed, it tells me that something is going on within you and in your life that needs to be addressed and not just with meditation alone.
There are many retreat centers that offer professional services as well... certain therapeutic sessions, some hypnotherapy, guided meditation, groups, etc. These are important because you are saying you want to go to deal with or heal your depression. Then please make sure that if you choose to go away for a month, it is to a center that is equipped to work with people who are looking for healing.
Your question also includes the concern that you might be running away from your problems. There are a number of therapeutic interventions that can be helpful to you that do not necessarily involve medication. Whether or not medication becomes needed may depend a lot on the nature and cause of your depression. You don't say what kind of therapy (if any) you have done prior to determining you might want to go on a month long meditation retreat. Do you have extreme stress in your current life situation? Are you struggling with relationships (personal, professional, platonic), that you need help working through? Retreats are wonderful, but we still have to come back to our "real" lives and face re-entry into our world... Most people need help with that. Therefore, before I'd sign up to go away, I would recommend that you
1. explore which retreats are the most therapeutically oriented so that you get the best possible outcome for yourself.
2. explore some at home therapies: Talk therapy... that will help you gain insight and understanding into the issues triggering your depression. Hypnotherapy... helps you get to the root of the issues that seem to be emerging now... Neurofeedback... in conjunction with therapy is very effective in overcoming depression and many of the associated symptoms and feelings... There is also EFT (Emotional Freedom Therapy) that many people find effective. Attending and participating in local daily or weekend workshops that address your needs and feelings.
3. Finding the right therapist for you is a process. Therapy works when you feel comfortable with and trusting of your therapist; that you feel your therapist understands you and your needs, and you do the work between sessions to bring about the changes you need, want &/or desire in your life.
Please feel free to contact me should you have additional questions, and continue to be committed to your good health and mental health. Wishing you all the best, Loren M. Gelberg-Goff, LCSW