Depression and anxiety can be subtle or debilitating. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’ve been defined and curtailed in our life by our emotional attitude. There are many schools of thought around treating anxiety and depression. Two basic approaches view the disorders as bad neurochemistry (traditional psychiatry) and/or bad thinking (cognitive behavioral). For both these models of treatment, the goal is to eliminate symptoms, one with medication, and the other with cognitive restructuring techniques. Often times both are used together and there can be positive results with changing people’s lives. How Jung viewed these symptoms provides the perspective that our human imperfections and deepest suffering has also has meaning and purpose.
While Jungian Analysts are certainly not anti-medication or against cognitive restructuring techniques, we do consider anxiety and depression as valued material from the unconscious. Such symptoms are viewed as reflections of something much deeper in the psyche that may be trying to emerge to encourage the individual to become more whole as an individual. Jung’s idea is that symptoms of anxiety and depression are sometimes purposive and functional.
Working analytically with depression and anxiety is oddly similar to opening unwanted gifts to see what they have to offer us. Some gifts are unexpected or difficult to receive. Committing to a period of consistent analysis or psychotherapy provides the safe place to dig into difficult issues, making for long-lasting results. Such symptoms herald in the message that a change in our life must be made and with the support of treatment, we can make the necessary changes sustainable. The time frame for depth work is determined by your psyche and cannot be determined by anyone, not even mental health professionals. Through the changes you make and your dreams, you will come to know when your therapeutic work is coming to a close.