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Robin Williams tragic death and why shame is so important to combat in depression.

Posted: 13/08/2014

The sad and tragic death of actor Robin Williams by suicide is a powerful reminder that depression is a serious mental health problem affecting most people at least once in their lives.   Such deaths may leave you feeling worried about people in your life who you are close to who are suffering from depression, or way re-awaken painful feelings about love ones you may have lost to suicide.  This is understandable.  You may be someone who has or is suffering from depression and Robin Williams suicide may have left you feeling perhaps frightened or hopeless about overcoming your own depression.  One of the things that his death got me thinking about again is how often because of feelings of shame and stigma about having depression, people can struggle to open up and talk about their feelings.  Shame can make it very difficult to let someone in and for you to feel able to acknowledge to yourself what you are feeling.  Sometimes people feel they have to put on a front to the world and be cheerful, whilst on the inside they may be feeling terrible or perhaps shut-off or disconnected from their emotional pain.  To some extent we probably all do this sometimes to some degree – after all, have you ever said “I’m fine” to someone who asked how you were, when you were feeling bad?  I certainly have.  The relationship you have to your feelings will be influenced by the kind of upbringing you have – were you taught to keep your feelings to yourself because feelings were “embarrassing” or did it feel like you had to please others by keeping your feelings inside or putting your own needs aside?  In my experience as a Clinical Psychologist and Cognitive Analytic Therapist – the ways you relate to difficult feelings and to those close to you can make a difference in depression and indeed any other psychological problems you may be facing.  You can change these relationships for the better.  If you are concerned about someone else or worried about your own depression then I would encourage you not to suffer in silence.  Help is available – and please do contact me at www.become-psychology-london.co.uk if you want to discuss arranging an appointment.  Helpful information about Cognitive Analytic Therapy is available at www.acat.me.uk including a directory of therapists.

Dr Robert Watson, Clinical Psychologist, 13/08/14

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