When depressed people stay in bed and say they can’t get up, is it “all in their head”? Well, yes, it is in their heads, but not just in their heads. Depression, anxiety, and addiction are Neuro-biological conditions that affect the brain. And, since the brain controls our entire organism the pain of depression shows up in our entire body. The part of the brain that produces motivation and energy shut down. A state of inability to feel hope, or pleasure sets in like a dark cloud. It drains your body of energy. You feel nothing, except waves of muscle pain, exhaustion, and agitation, all at the same time. When a person is overcome with panic from anxiety, it accelerates the heartbeat and cuts off our breath, and it runs through the body like electricity.
When you suffer from addiction the cravings that addiction triggers take over the body, it narrows the vision, makes the stomach turn, triggers waves of unbearable anxiety, feels like you have the flu, multiplied x 10, and creates a feeling of unbearable hunger, and thirst. And, desperation for relief that would come with a drug. They are all very physical. This means that if you want to help a person who is dealing with depression, anxiety, or addiction, please don’t tell them that it’s all in their head. To do so is like telling someone that had a brain stroke that their resulting lack of speech or paralysis is all in their head. It dismisses their suffering and promotes anger, loneliness, and even more hopelessness. It is not helpful.
So what is helpful?
Ask them how they are. Listen to the answer. Don’t tell them what to do. Let them know you care. Say that you don’t know how they feel inside (unless you live with depression, anxiety, and addiction). But, you can see the suffering it causes for them. And, you want to learn how to help them. You have no idea what a gift that would be. And the relief it would bring.
Yes, the problem is in our heads, our bodies, our losses, and the destruction that it creates in our world. It’s in our heads, and everywhere else.