Anger and Depression
What's their relationship and the
best way to work with them?
By Jon Terrell, M.A.

Suppressing anger can lead to depressed feelings. Anger and depression are interconnected. At my retreats I often see people suffering from depression release years of pent up anger and come alive again. When they finally explode, in a safe environment, they start their journey towards freedom, aliveness and passion.

Working with Depression

Sign that says "No Way"

Typical ways that therapists work with anger and depression include medication, physical health suggestions such as increasing exercise, and, of course, talk therapy. While these can be helpful the process is often hit and miss...what helps one person may not work for the next.

Antidepressant medications can help many people. But research shows they don’t help everyone and can have harmful side effects. Often several medications need to be tried to find one that is effective in relieving the symptoms of depression.

Talk therapy can be helpful, especially if focused on training people how to redirect thoughts in new positive directions. But you can spend years in therapy without getting relief from difficult emotions.

For many people, the best way to heal depression is to free up their life force caught up in old, stuck emotions. We do this safely, lovingly and effectively at our deep emotional healing retreats.

Each person’s journey is unique. Underneath the surface of depression people often have suppressed anger that is held within the body. Anger can be held in the clenched jaw, tight shoulders, upper arms and hands, in the belly and other places.

As the anger is worked through depression lifts, and the person has access to much more energy and aliveness.

Working with Anger

Most therapists that work with anger try to “manage” it. Anger Management is a whole field. They teach techniques and strategies to keep people from damaging behaviors. These techniques include relaxation methods and ways of slowing down our emotional reactions and redirecting thoughts.

The effort is directed towards working with thoughts in different ways. If you go to your local bookstore, or browse Amazon you will find almost all the books use these indirect methods.

In my experience there is a better way to work with anger and depression.

Healing Anger And Depression:
A Better Way

While these methods can be helpful, especially with those people who have trouble containing their anger, they don’t address the anger directly, like we do at our retreats.

At our events anger is worked through, revealing its gifts of passion, aliveness and vitality, which lifts depression.

We take the time to create a safe and supportive environment so that deep work can happen. Once you feel safe enough, your stuck emotions can begin to naturally come into awareness and be expressed.

With the support of the group, the retreat leader can encourage the expression of anger in a way that doesn't harm anyone. As anger and other feelings are externalized, or expressed outwardly, participants feel relief...they feel lighter, more relaxed, aware and open.

[Note: Some research seems to show that “expressive” approaches that “vent” anger don’t decrease anger in the long run, but actually increase their expression in certain individuals, people who express hostility as their prime emotion. For most of folks the situation is different--most people have suppressed a lot of feelings, especially anger, that need to be worked through, expressed in a safe environment and owned so they are not acted out unconsciously in relationships. Hostility comes from suppressed anger. Current research, such as that of Allan Schore at UCLA gives credence to this approach. And my personal work over the past 12 years with hundreds of individuals at Shalom retreats is extremely encouraging--people can heal by working through these "difficult" emotions. Suppression or unconscious expression are not the only choices!]

What Are Our Emotional Healing Retreats and Who Can Benefit?

We offer retreats that help people work through painful, stuck feelings. In a safe, supportive and loving environment adults rediscover lost gifts that have been trapped in old emotions such as grief,  anger and depression.

Grief, Loss and Other Difficult Emotions Retreats are 3-4 day events held in Massachusetts, and occasionally in Florida and California. These retreats are usually limited to 10 participants. Go here for more information.

For more information about anger and depression contact Jon Terrell using the form below. Jon leads emotionally healing retreats on the East Coast and in California. His private practice is in Northampton, Massachusetts (serving the Pioneer Valley), and in New York City. 

Jon Terrell, M.A.
Star Dance Ranch, Sunderland, Massachusetts

Go From Anger and Depression To Grief, Loss and Other Difficult Emotions Retreat Page

Go to Anger Page

Go to Anger Triggers Page

Go to Fear of Intimacy Page 

See this page on the Stages of Grief

Go to Home Page


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