The negative effects of emotional abuse can be overwhelming and debilitating. This can lead to a state of depression when the effects of the abuse compromise your ability to hope, cope, envision a future, and to find the strength to carry on each day. Without optimism, it is difficult to drown out many of the negative messages you heard growing up that damaged your emerging sense of self. When these negative messages become too loud and strident to overcome, physical depression can be the result.
In my counseling experience, people are baffled as to why they are feeling depressed. They are unsure how to get over it. They want answers to “fix” the problem; they want drugs to “fix” the problem. At the heart of so much of the depression I have treated is emotional abuse as children. Because they are now adults, they can’t see how what happened to them twenty, thirty, even forty years ago could make such a difference. Often they have spent their adult lives “moving on” and attempting to put the past behind them. What I help them learn is that it is only possible to move on from the past once you have acknowledged and dealt with it.
I also help them to see that the ways they have chosen to put the past behind them end up pushing patterns of the past to the forefront. Ignoring the past doesn’t make it go away. Accepting the past does.
Depression has been described as a deep, black hole you find yourself falling into. The sides are steep and slick. There doesn’t seem to be any way to stop your descent. It happens in slow motion — flailing of the arms, twists and turns of the body, agonizing movements that produce no results. Eventually you stop fighting and just slide down into the pit. No light, desires, energy. No hope.
But also no pain. No anger. No emotion to deal with at all. Just a numbing grayness hanging over your life. When pain is too great, anger too consuming, and emotions too conflicting, the blurry haze of depression has an allure.
Emotional abuse leads to intense feelings of anger, rage, resentment, and bitterness. Submerged feelings of guilt and fear of your abuser can lead you to choose a safer target for your anger than your abuser. All too often that target is you. Unspent anger continually works inside the body, using up energy, causing feelings of fatigue and apathy. Unable to see any hope in your life, you slowly begin to isolate yourself from others, from getting out and socializing, from exercising or taking care of your body. So often in your abuse nothing has seemed to work. Every time you thought it was going to get better, it got worse. So what’s the use? you wonder.
This world we live in can be a difficult place. Pressures and stresses that come from everyday living are enough to temporarily sideline even the healthiest of us. When emotional abuse has battered your defenses, maintaining a successful stand against those forces can be almost impossible. That is why it is so important to gain support from others: from healthy relationships, from friends who love you, even from caring professionals who can assist you in rediscovering your strength to face each day successfully. You may also need a professional to assist you in rebalancing your body’s natural chemistry when necessary.
The Center • A Place of HOPE specializes in the treatment of fear, anxiety and depression, and uses a whole-person approach that allows you to discover what is truly going on in mind, body and spirit. Contact us today at 1-888-771-5166 and begin the healing process.
 For a thorough discussion of the effects of depression, see Gregory L Jantz with Ann McMurray, Moving Beyond Depression: A Whole-Person Approach to Healing (Colorado Springs: Shaw, 2003)