Depression and Meeting Your Needs
Arguably the most damaging aspect of continuing depression is how it impacts the issue of having our needs met. All of us have basic needs for survival. According to Professor Abraham Maslowe, there are 5 levels of human need, called a hierarchy, and each level must be met or actualized before an individual feels the desire or urge to move up to try to fulfill the next level of need.
The first level of need is physiological: food, water, warmth and rest. If these survival needs are not met, they are all we can focus on. Homeless persons have a daily quest for food and water, and a place to sleep and stay warm. Not having food and water could mean death, and sleep is essential to physical and mental health. Being able to stay warm can also prevent death by freezing.
After basic survival needs are met, the next level is security and safety. This need will drive a person to find a source of income that can pay for safe housing and other items that bring a feeling of security, such as a bank account or insurance.
Once an individual feels secure and safe, and basic needs continue to be met, the desire increases to fill needs of belongingness and love, which includes friends and other intimate relationships. What this implies is that we cannot focus on our relationships with others; friends or family, and these relationships may suffer if any of the needs below that level are not being met. Our energy and attention will be on how to meet those lower level needs that are most basic to survival and safety.
Beyond belonging and love needs are needs of esteem and feelings of accomplishment and then an individual can aspire to achieve their full potential, which includes using all your talents, be it athletic or creative. Only by this self actualization can a person feel contentment with themselves and their situation in life.
Why You Feel Tense and Anxious
Maslowe referred to the top 4 levels on his hierarchy as d-needs: if these needs are not met, there are no physical symptoms, but individuals feels anxious and tense. Relating that to an everyday situation, you might know that you have enough food and water for today, and you have a place to sleep where you aren’t going to freeze or be exposed to the elements. But it’s in the back of your mind that you need a job to find a place of your own, or you need an income source to continue to pay for your utilities, so that you really can feel secure. Once you have an income, that need is met and you feel a lessening of that tension in your body. After you have relaxed and that tension is gone, you gradually begin to focus on other needs that have not been being met. They weren’t being met before, but only now do you have that energy to focus on them because you are not using that energy to worry about basic lower level needs.