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What Can Existentialism Teach Us About Anxiety and Depression?

Key Shared Insights & Perspectives

We started our discussion exploring the base level of unhappiness to being human and how the entire existence of the mind is crafted around the ability to suffer.

Today, there is a really strong invitation out there to not think about our pain and challenges and instead seek medical treatments which don’t address the causes and invite us to think of ourselves as objects.

Could anxiety or other various forms of mental illness not actually be illness but an adaptive response to the way the world is?

The Dizziness of Freedom

Some of the major themes in existential therapy are responsibility and freedom.

How does the idea that we're responsible to create our own meaning build a foundation for positive mental health?

Listen to Yannick share his view on the question.

Coping Mechanisms

There are no free rides with medications and although sometimes they might be needed on a short term basis to be able to function, learning to manage our anxiety is the path to true freedom.

Coping can include physical exercise, as Eric suggests, “Depression hates a moving target.” Listen to Eric’s personal experience and the distinction he draws between depression and anxiety and his tactics for dealing with each.

Mind over Mind

Before our group passed the mic to share their discussion take-aways, Melissa described her personal theory about an interesting paradox in human nature involving the subconscious and conscious minds.

Individual Take-aways

As we came to the end of the hour, our group closed the discussion in the same way we started, with a tour de table. Each participant had the opportunity to reflect on what they heard and share their take-aways from the conversation.

Listen to the last 10 minutes of the episode.

Final Thoughts to Consider

It seems that no one is immune to feeling anxious and even depressed during their lifetime. Some people are better equipped and have learned at a young age to be more resilient than others.

However, today, learning how to cope with these feelings is a personal responsibility and a path to freedom and personal growth. After all, one can wonder if pain is just a problem to solve or perhaps a message to translate?

Existentialism is, in a way, a form of learned optimism helping us make sense of something that happened or is happening now.
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