The way the I describe depression to others is that it is an anger that is turned towards the self. If you think about it, when you are angry at someone else, you will likely use words like "hate" and "resent." When you feel depressed, you are likely to use similar words. The feelings are not the same, but often related.
The significant in how we feel about ourselves comes from problematic thinking patterns. Hopelessness and helplessness is likely related to thought patterns where we tell ourselves what we should have done. If you tell yourself that another person should have done something that hey did not do, you are likely going to feel angry towards that person. The same thing can happen when we do this to ourselves. What we call shoulding is a problem that can start and keep you stuck in this depressed cycle.
In order to change this, you have to recognize the problem. Many times people are so accustomed to a certain thinking pattern, they do not realize that they are thinking in such a way. As a result, they think that the outside world is leading them to feel depressed. The truth is that they have a feeling that comes from thoughts that they do not realize occur. These thoughts and beliefs come from pre-conceived notions that were likely learned from a very early age. Therefore, learning to recognize the thoughts can be a big part of the challenge. Therapy and counseling can help with this process. A therapist can help you identify these thoughts, so that you can then do something about them.
Once you do recognize the thoughts, you will be able to understand that the world is how it should already be. Saying that you should have done something else implies that in a magical world you would change how you handled the situation. We don't have "do-overs" however. You, nor I, live in that kind of a world. People make mistakes, and they hopefully learn from them. This is how you will grow as a human being. Looking at guilty and shameful thoughts as an oppoturnity, rather than a burden will help you to feel more content. You will be able to move on past the depression that is holding you back, and experience the kind of life that you want to. And most importantly of all, you can learn to let yourself off the hook.
Michael J. Salas is a Dallas Counselor who provides counseling and mental health services to individuals and couples in the Uptown area of Dallas. He primarily utilizes a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy approach to help people learn how to deal wtih their thoughts in a way that helps them change their lives.