What is the meaning of all this? Find answers to Depression in Logotherapy.

Individuals suffering from depression often report a persistent line of thinking, a despair that comes with the inability to find meaning in life. What is it all for? Why bother to get up in the morning?

Victor Frankl, a survivor of the Holocaust, faced these questions from his fellow prisoners while in concentration camps during WWII. It was during these times that Frankl understood that suffering itself is not the root cause of despair, rather, Frankl identified feeling a lack of purpose and a failure to find meaning in life's challenges as the root cause of psychological distress.

According to Viktor Frankl, depression occurs on three levels: psychological, physiological, and spiritual.

On a psychological level, Frankl believed feelings from inadequacy arise from undertaking a task beyond our abilities. At the physiological level, a vital lowering of physical energy occurs. At the spiritual level, a deep tension is felt as a result of who a man is in relation to who he should be. Frankl described this tension as a gaping abyss. If goals are unreachable, a loss of meaning occurs and is accompanied by a loss of a sense of future. With the loss of meaning and future comes the loss of the will to live (Frankl 1986).  

Logotherapy helps people address the root of these issues. The loss of meaning in one’s life is one of the major challenges of living in modern times and creates an existential emptiness.

Group Logotherapy and Depression

Logotherapy is an effective treatment approach for depression. In a recent study, a group of 10 college students with symptoms of depression and significant feelings of meaninglessness participated in group Logotherapy.     

The goals of the program were as follows:

  1. Help find and clarify values that were meaningful

  2. Set reasonable goals that would actualize the participant’s values

  3. Set practical plans to achieve these goals

  4. Identify the participants' assets and deficits that would affect their ability to achieve their set goals.

  5. Intentionally incorporate the assets and deficits in the plans to achieve set goals.

Over 10 sessions, the group participated in exercises designed to expand conscious awareness, stimulate creative imagination, and project personal values (Robatmili, Sohrabi … & Hasani, 2015).

At the end of the program, the students measured lowered rates of depression and felt an increased sense that life was meaningful.

Why do we need meaning to be psychologically healthy?

It is human nature to need and want life to be meaningful. Without meaning, we feel empty and we are apt to lose our sense of direction. Frankl understood that the key to survival was to maintain an inner hold on our moral and spiritual self. This could be accomplished by setting realistic, achievable goals.

In society, many people have lost their direction. No one wants to feel like we were born to work, pay bills, and then die. This view can develop if we are stuck in what we experience as an unsatisfying job. Additionally, if you are unable to meet the goals you have set for yourself this may lead to a sense of hopelessness.

Frankl coined the term “Existential Vacuum” to describe what happens with a frustrated will. You don’t know what you are living for and may resort to substance abuse, suicidal ideation, violence, boredom, or pleasure-seeking, and power-hungry behavior. These are attempts to fill a hungry heart for those who have been disillusioned with life and lack a sense of direction and purpose.

During his time in concentration camps, Frankl understood that it was not the suffering itself that caused despair in himself and his fellow prisoners; it was the feeling that they had nothing to give and no one to love. These feelings led them to believe they had nothing to live for. 

How does Logotherapy help?

Logotherapy heals because it teaches us to celebrate life. In Hebrew, the word for gratitude is hakarat hatov literally meaning recognition of good. The person feeling gratitude enjoys more than the gift; he or she also enjoys the love that comes with the gift. Giving increases love in the world, not just for those who receive but also for those who give.

Logotherapy is designed to help you find meaning and give your life purpose. Each of us has a unique role to play and it is our responsibility to find and choose our own authentic path. The spiritual focus of Logotherapy is neutral and non-denominational, and aims to assist in shifting the question from “Why me?” to “Who am I?”

Find your own meaning

If you are struggling with depression or other mental health issues, or if you would like to learn more about Logotherapy, contact one of our therapists today. Or learn more about online therapy.




Frankl, V. E. (1986). The doctor and the soul: From psychotherapy to logotherapy. Vintage.

Robatmili, S., Sohrabi, F., Shahrak, M. A., Talepasand, S., Nokani, M., & Hasani, M. (2015). The effect of group logotherapy on meaning in life and depression levels of Iranian students. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, 37(1), 54-62.



Be the first to review this item!

Bookmark this

12 Sep 2018

Popular Articles - Recommended for You

How to increase psychological flexibility

How to increase psychological flexibility

Changing the way you think using these techniques to increase psychological flexibility can have a significant impact on anxiety, depression, work performance, & overall quality of life. You can learn to stop unhelpful thoughts from holding you back.

November 13, 2017 By Francisca Oredeko

How to stop passive-aggressive behavior

How to stop passive-aggressive behavior

Because passive-aggressive behavior is not overt, it can be hard to recognize and even harder to stop. Below are some tips to stop passive-aggressive behavior.

September 4, 2017

The connection between Asperger's and gluten; Henry's story

The connection between Asperger's and gluten; Henry's story

More and more parents are reporting a connection between Asperger's and gluten. Could a gluten-free or casein-free diet be a solution for your child with autism spectrum disorder?

November 13, 2017 By Wendy Frank

Featured Listings more listings

Arlene Hirsch, MA, LPC

Arlene Hirsch, MA, LPC

in Career Counseling

Arlene S. Hirsch, a Chicago-based career and psychological counseling firm, provides a range of individual career counseling and psychotherapy, vocational forensics, and job search coaching. She offers coaching in person and online.

Center for Therapeutic Services & Psychodiagnostics – Dr. Amanda Karlen, Psy. D, LCPC

Center for Therapeutic Services & Psychodiagnostics – Dr. Amanda Karlen, Psy. D, LCPC

in Marriage/Relationship Counseling/Therapy, Anxiety, Depression

Are you ready to make a change for the better in your life? We are committed to helping you with the most comprehensive, holistic services in McHenry that are established in evidence-based treatment. You are unique and we provide unique treatment.

Dr. Michael Ascher – Board Certified Psychiatrist in Philadelphia

Dr. Michael Ascher – Board Certified Psychiatrist in Philadelphia

in Anxiety, Addiction, Depression

Dr. Ascher will provide a careful diagnostic evaluation tailored to your individual needs and goals and make detailed treatment recommendations so that medications and psychotherapy are prescribed only if necessary.

Amy Barth - Wholehearted Therapy

Amy Barth - Wholehearted Therapy

in Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Depression

I provide therapy online and in Kennesaw, Georgia. My role as your therapist is to help you cope with life’s challenges so that you can start healing. In therapy with me, you can expect to move forward towards self-actualization and gratification.