Finding meaning amidst depression and/or anxiety?

by Grace on December 5, 2012

Journey out of depression


What is depression, what is anxiety?

One of the problems we have in dealing with anxiety, regardless of its intensity and duration,  might be the difficulty in pin pointing not only its source but what maintains it. The puzzle can feel so complex that any answer to the problem can appear to be elusive.  As a consequence we might seek out others to enlighten us with their wisdom and therefore helps us understand ourselves and our anxiety better. However, we tend to forget that we have an ability or instinct that is there to help us find answers within ourselves about our own dilemmas.

Ignoring our instincts and negating our abilities can only lead to negative sense of well-being. It will make us feel like something big is missing. A further sense of emptiness and anxiety will follow.  Our need to take control might lead us to establish an object to somehow displace this emptiness or anxiety.  For the purpose of this article I will refer to anxiety as stemming from three sources. In today’s article I will present the source Meaninglessness.


One of the sources that anxiety might stem from is when we lose our sense of meaning in our lives, if we had one, or a lack of meaning all together. It is not surprise therefore that when we lose a job, a relationship, ability, we experience depression and anxiety. Unfortunately we cannot pull ‘meaning’ from a hat like a rabbit is pulled from a hat by a magician. Meaning is a creative process and this creative process, together with the end result, is what gives our lives the vitality that helps us maintain a balanced level of anxiety.

It is common to hear people say: “what is the meaning of life?” or “what is the point?” The good news is that meaning can be created by you. I know that for some of us it would be so much easier if meaning was given to us so that we would not have to deal with creating one. But like I said before it is the process of creating that builds our self-esteem.  Being cut off from this creative participation within our social context whether is as a consequence of external or internal causes will leave us anxious. Each time we create a meaning we are re-energized with love, each time we lose this creativity we mourn in anxiety and depression.

One way in which a person might deal with this dilemma of meaningless (creative participation) might be by surrendering himself and his/her instincts. In doing this the person puts their trust on another person they see as an ‘authority’. In other words the difficult tasks of asking themselves questions, doubting, and answering for themselves are surrendered to another.  A sense of loss of freedom can be experienced when we surrender our responsibility to think for ourselves. It is an escape sometimes necessary in order to escape anxiety caused by lack of meaning. Meaning might be restored momentarily but we might feel compromised in the process if the escape is too long and becomes avoidance.

Therefore when exploring the issue of anxiety and/or depression within the context of ‘meaninglessness” I would advise an approach where you create your own meaning instead of it being given to you by what you might see as an ‘authority’. In the case of counselling/psychotherapy the experience will need to be one whereby you feel engaged in a process of self-discovery where you are the expert of your life story and the counsellor  assists you in reflecting on the unreflected.

Stay tuned for my next post on “guilt”

Melbourne and Prahran Anxiety and Depression Counselling Services

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