Into the Void and Back Again: Understanding and Recovering From Depression

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In this episode of Psychology Now, Dr. Witt and Dr. Forman dive deeply into the topic of depression, including the following key topics:

  • What is depression? How have psychologists/therapists historically understood depression?
  • How common is depression here and abroad? Has its prevalence been changing over time?
  • Are there any differences between how men and women experience depression?
  • What are the social factors influencing depression?
  • What are the biological factors influencing depression?
  • Is there a genetic component to depression?
  • What about medication (antidepressants) and depression? Do they work?
  • What are the practices and habits we need to engage to help with depression? What actually helps?

Depression is a powerful mood disorder and – after anxiety – the most prevalent of all mental health challenges. The most common symptoms of depression include:

  • Low mood
  • Persistent sadness or crying
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness and guilt
  • Loss of pleasure (anhedonia)
  • Changes to sleep and eating patterns
[Note: Many people with depression will have only some of these symptoms]

Depression takes an enormous toll on individuals, relationships, and society – in the United States, costing as much as $80 billion dollars per year in losses to the economy (Finch & Phillips, 2005). Depression is especially dangerous in its all-too-common connection to suicide (Oquendo et al., 2001). Evidence from around the world also tells us that depression is becoming increasingly prevalent in our disconnected, competitive, and stressful modern societies (Kessler & Bromet, 2013).

The hopeful news, however, is that treatment for depression works (Yapko, 2009). When we are able to identify depression, engage healing practices, and receive caring support we can and do recover.

Appropriate care allows us to find ourselves in the void of depression and make our way out again. When we emerge, we may do so with deepened commitment to change, heightened self-understanding, and increased empathy for the suffering of others.

Come join us and our ongoing inquiry into self, other, and world on Psychology Now!


Finch, R. A. & Phillips, K. (2005). An employer’s guide to behavioral health services. Washington, DC: National Business Group on Health/Center for Prevention and Health Services.

Kessler. R. C., & Bromet, E. J. (2013). The epidemiology of depression across cultures. Annual Review of Public Health, 34, 119-138.

Martin, L.A., Neighbors, H.W., & Griffith, D.M. (2005). The experience of symptoms of depression in men vs women: Analysis of the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. JAMA Psychiatry, 70, 1100-1106.

Oquendo, M.A., Ellis, S.P., Greenwald, S., Malone, K.M., Weissman, M.M., & Mann, J.J. (2001). Ethnic and sex differences in suicide rates relative to major depression in the United States. American Journal of Psychiatry, 158(10), 1652-1658.

Yapko, Michael, D. (2009). Depression is Contagious, Free Press: New York, NY.

Dr. Keith Witt

About Keith Witt

Dr. Keith Witt is a Licensed Psychologist, teacher, and author who has lived and worked in Santa Barbara, CA. for over forty years. Dr. Witt is also the founder of The School of Love.

Mark Forman

About Mark Forman

Mark Forman, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist whose text — A Guide to Integral Psychotherapy Complexity, Integration, and Spirituality in Practice – is considered one of the seminal works in the field of Integral Psychotherapy.

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