I’d like to discuss these 2 categories in a different way here which might be insightful to readers. Then I will describe an exercise using this information that you might find insightful.
I’m going to give descriptive words to convey depression, instead of using clinical language. This is how I would describe depression. ( It will be different for each person) For colors: I would use: very dark colors especially dark gray. Possibly no color at all or even black if the depression is severe. Outside weather descriptors would be: rainy, cloudy and gray, no sun, no white puffy clouds, just gray and what most people would describe as “dismal”. Music wise it would be anything mournful and sad. If you know the music of the amazing Joni Mitchell, it would be her song “Wish I had a River”. Or most anything on Leonard Cohen’s album Song’s of Leonard Cohen. If it was poetry, perhaps Sylvia Plath’s “Tulips”. Emotional words: sadness, emptiness, loss, hurt, grief, hopeless.
For anxiety: I would use words like worry, lots of worry, insomnia, tense, stress, self-doubt, thinking the worst is about to happen. Fast breathing, impossible to relax, hard to sit still, feeling trapped, mind racing, for some individuals- panic. Feeling fearful. Colors: most would say “who the heck cares what color something is”. Outside weather: “expecting a downpour anytime now”. Music: That’s a tougher one. Could be the song Pressure by Billy Joel as representing anxiousness (but without the resolution of the final chord.) I’ll have to ponder that one.
Here’s why looking at the problematic feeling this way can be helpful. Some clients find it difficult to put in words what they are feeling. Or they might be able to describe it to a point, but since they are in the midst of feeling it so much, they find it hard to be objective and find more descriptors. It can be helpful to due the following exercise:
For example if you are feeling “sad” but can’t come up with more descriptors, get a piece of paper and write down the answers to the following questions: How big is the sadness?, Can you draw something, (perhaps a symbol) that represents your sadness?(if so, do). What color is it? What is it’s texture?, If it made a sound what sound would it be? Lastly: if it were a book what would it’s title be?
You would do this exercise for what ever the feeling is, including anxiousness. Feel free to come up with your own additional questions and then answer them.
This might sound like a very trivial or perhaps “silly” exercise. But I can tell you that is amazingly powerful and can be insightful. Some of the specialized techniques I’ve been trained in as a therapist I will incorporate into session when I feel it to be helpful. This is a simplified version of one of them. Try it out for yourself the next time your particular problematic feeling raises its head. You may well learn something new about what it is trying to tell you.