I was a very anxious child. When I was five years old, my mother took me to a child psychiatrist. After we each spoke with him and we were ready to leave, he turned to me and said, "Tell your mother not to yell at you." I clearly remember thinking, "I'm only five years old and she doesn't listen to me. You tell her!" And my next thought was, "I can do a better job than you!" From that moment on I knew that I wanted to be a therapist.
I struggled with much anxiety and some deep depression for much of my life, until 28 years ago when I discovered the underlying causes and the secret to healing.
Statistics in the U.S., with similar numbers around the globe, are alarming:
• 18.8 million American adults, or about 9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a depressive disorder
• Approximately 40 million Americans age 18 and older (18.1%) are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in any given year
11 percent of Americans take anti-depressants, an increase of nearly 400 percent over the last two decades, (http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/10/25/antidepressant-use-up-400-percent-in-us/30677.html), and an equal number are on anti-anxiety medication.
Part of the reason for this surge in numbers is that many people are being diagnosed with these disorders who were formerly undiagnosed, and many more of those who are diagnosed are being prescribed medication –- mostly due to intense advertising by the drug companies (despite the fact, which Dr. Irving Kirsch proves in his book, The Emperor's New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth, that the drug companies largely created the myth of 'chemical imbalances' and that antidepressants work mostly as placebos). Yet the fact remains that many people around the world are anxious and depressed.
While there may be many causes of this, in the 44 years I've been counseling people, I have discovered two major causes. Both fall under the heading of self-abandonment.
When children are physically, emotionally or sexually abused, they generally become anxious and depressed. The same is true of the way we treat ourselves, as adults, on the inner level. Imagine your feelings as being an inner child. When you emotionally abandon this child in various ways, you end up feeling anxious and/or depressed. Our feelings are our inner guidance system, letting us know when we are being loving or unloving to ourselves.
I have discovered four major ways we emotionally abandon ourselves which can lead to anxiety and depression.