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Why Am I Depressed?

Are you constantly typing into Google “Why am I depressed?”

Do you worry that you may ‘have depression?’ 

The Oxford Dictionary defines depression as “feelings of severe despondency and dejection”.

If this sounds familiar, then read on.

Depression is often a symptom that something in your life needs to change.

I say often as this is not always the cause, but it is the cause for many.

We live in a society where more often than not, the solution is to take medication to help us feel happier.

Medication may alter brain chemistry, but it doesn’t solve the problem that caused the negative feelings (though there may be a few exceptions to this rule).

I want to share with you the story of Peter, a 55-year-old male.

Peter came to see me 5 years ago concerned he ‘had depression’.

He had ‘googled it’ and was pretty sure that his symptoms matched the description.

Peter definitely felt feelings of severe despondency and dejection.

He was having trouble sleeping at night and his marriage was breaking down because of his negative feelings.

He woke every morning dreading his work day.

He avoided his friends because he didn’t want them to know how he felt.

He wondered if his life was worth living.

After working with Peter, it quickly became evident that his depressive symptoms were caused by the way that he was living his life.

He was living a life incongruent with his values.

Our values drive our life, along with our beliefs and unless you have worked with a life coach then these may well be out of your conscious awareness!

Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way that you live.

You may recognise values by words such as:

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Love
  • Freedom
  • Connection
  • Stability
  • Achievement
  • Kindness
  • Adventure
  • Fairness
  • Security

We all have our own independent values, and none are right or wrong.

During one of our coaching sessions, Peter discovered that his core values were:

  • Love
  • Freedom
  • Adventure
  • Excitement
  • Creativity
  • Security
  • Relaxation
  • Contribution

This process helped Peter to see that his behaviours working a 70-hour week away, in a job that brought him little reward was causing his negative feelings.

He didn’t have time for love, so his relationship was breaking down.

He had little freedom and no time for adventure or excitement.

And his certainly didn’t have a way to unleash his creativity, relax or contribute to society.

You may notice that I didn’t mention Peter’s 6th core value, security. P

Peter identified that he was placing so much value on security that it drove him to work long hours.

He wanted to put as much money as possible into savings in order to provide for his future; what he realised was that this behaviour was ‘taking away his today’.

His depressive feelings were a sign that he wasn’t living life according to his values.

He took immediate action to change his job and his life.

He went on to find another job that gave him flexible working hours, allowing him more freedom.

He booked an adventure holiday for his family.

He ‘played more’ and worked less.

His happiness increased substantially as a result. No longer did he find himself asking “Why I am depressed?”

If you are concerned that you have depression, it may be worth asking yourself, “Could this be a symptom that that something needs to change?”.

Then discover your core values by following this process:

  • Write down a list of things that are important to you in life. (If you struggle to answer this then ask yourself “Who or what couldn’t I live without?”
  • Next to each answer, write down WHY this is important to you. What does it get for you? Is it security? Or love? Maybe it’s a sense of achievement or self-worth? Your aim is to identify your core values.
  • Put these values in order of importance to you. Put the most important at the top and the least important at the bottom. Fill in the rest of the values between these.
  • Then ask yourself, “Am I living my life in accordance with my values?” And then, “Am I living my life placing the most attention on my highest values?

This will help you to identify behaviours and habitual patterns that could be contributing to depressive feelings and compromising your happiness.

As the quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions that you ask yourself. Rather than ask yourself “Why am I depressed“?,  ask yourself, “What actions can I take to live a life more congruent with my values?”

Knowing your core values will enable you to make life decisions that benefit you most which could potentially and substantially increase your happiness.

Can you afford to NOT KNOW your values?

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