Many people with anxiety and depressive illness disorders very often negatively evaluate themselves for their illness. This self-criticism is called “meta-emotion” and is secondary to the original illness.
For example, “meta-fear“ is the anxiety a person feels when they even think about being afraid. It’s the further anxiety we feel when we judge ourselves because of our depression.
When I suffered from depression, I was ashamed of it. My life was good. “No reason to be depressed,” I told myself. Consequently, I didn’t receive the help I needed. I felt hopeless.
Judging our emotions
Emotions are complex and multidimensional: we not only feel an emotion, such as anger, fear, or sadness as a response to a stimulus, but we also judge and feel emotions about our emotions.
Appraisals about our emotional states have long been recognized and described as meta-emotions. Perceiving an emotion as problematic, aversive, or unacceptable, instead of normal, comprehensible, and acceptable can influence the way we regulate that original emotional state itself. It’s kind of like when we say something is “on steroids.”
It’s fear on steroids. It’s depression on steroids. That kind of thing.
Medical health clinicians commonly accept that patients may “disturb themselves about their disturbances”. This phenomenon has been defined as a secondary problem or meta-emotional problem and it is considered a common feature of many affective disorders.
In other words, when we criticize ourselves about our depression (or fear, anxiety, etc.), we make the original condition worse.
For example, someone might be depressed because they are laid off but also because they consider their depressive reaction further evidence of personal failure. They unintentionally give themselves a ‘double dose’ or ‘two problems for the price of one.’
As a common example, depressive rumination (thinking the same negative, destructive thoughts over and over again), a key risk factor for clinical depression, is related to self-critical thinking about one’s depressive symptoms.
Self-criticism has mostly been described as a personality trait that leads people to experience frustration and anger toward themselves when they face setbacks and failures. A growing number of studies confirm that the trait of self-criticism intensifies emotional reactivity.
One study asked a group of people with social phobia to judge another’s social phobia. As it turned out, the first group was much less critical of others than when they judged their own phobias.
We are often more understanding of another’s fear than we are of our own.
So if you’re looking for a surefire way to make your depression worse,
- Make yourself judge and jury of your own depression.
- Don’t give yourself a break.
- See yourself as a failure because of your depression.
But if you want to get better, remember God doesn’t judge you because you are depressed. On the contrary, He sees your pain and hates it every bit as much as you do.
You will get better in time. Just don’t delay the process by making it worse.
(If you want to read more in detail on this subject, here’s a site to visit)
God bless, and I hope you have a really good day.