Depression is a signal that one has gotten off track – that your life is not in alignment with your deepest needs, values, interests and gifts. What does that mean? What track have you gotten off of? One way to think of it is to think of people you know who have obviously gotten themselves into situations that are a mismatch for them. For example, an artistic person who works in a Fortune 500 company for job security would be an example of a person who is off track. Sometimes people make marriage choices for all the wrong reasons.

Two reasons your life may get off track is because of conformity and the need for security:



One of the main reasons you might make a bad choice that is out of line with your own real interests and desires is to conform to the expectations of others. Many times, parents’ expectations set a person on a life course. Conformity may also come from friends, peers, media or other larger cultural forces.

Need for Security

Another reason you might ignore your own internal signals is that the need for security can overpower your own sense of what is essentially meaningful. The need for security can take other forms such as staying in relationships that are familiar or safe. Or you may fail to take necessary risks to make your dreams come true. Sometimes depression occurs and makes you so miserable in your current lifestyle, to make it clear to you that the comfort of familiarity also comes with a price. Depression can serve as an inducement for taking risks. You begin to realize that though there are costs to moving away from security, the cost of depression for not taking any risks is already a high price to pay. Depression reminds you that you are losing your life while you are not risking.

Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist. She is author of The Gift of ADHD: How to Transform Your Child’s Problems into Strengths, the forthcoming Listening to Depression: How Understanding Your Pain Can Heal Your Life and more than twenty-five scholarly articles. Her work has been featured in Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and Publisher’s Weekly as well as newspapers across the country and local and national radio and television. She specializes in the treatment of ADHD and depression and the psychology of pregnancy and motherhood; she speaks regularly on her areas of expertise. Honos-Webb completed a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship at University of California, San Francisco, and has been an assistant professor teaching graduate students. Visit her website at

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