I love dark nights in all their forms for there is such a collapse of the ego-self that this gives us the bonus of a rare spot of relief from ourselves. In a die-off or dark night striving and hope cease. One could be in hell, but the relief of not having striving or hope is enormous. In this way death too must be the ultimate relief and release from regret and confusion. A dark night is like living through a death.
Dark nights help us get in touch and accept our loneliness. No one is going to go with us into our Dark Night...and any help just serves to distract us. Coming out of a dark night we realize we don't really need anyone anyways, infantile need is burnt off, so dark nights are possibly essential to mature relationship based on Being Values rather than Need Values. As long as we don't get stuck in them leading to extended depression I think dark nights are both essential to growth and provide the fastest growth curve.
A brilliant description of the extreme form of dark night and its value is found in Robert Augustus Masters' book, Darkness Shining Wild, An Odyssey to the Heart of Hell and Beyond. Here is what he says of the ego: "Regardless of its appearances to the contrary, egoity is little more than personified separation trauma, made bearable by its compensatory addictions and capacity for psychoemotional numbing and dissociation. A cult of one." No wonder there can be such shock and dread at letting go of this defensive position and why it can simultaneously be such a relief.
I would say that not everybody needs to experience demons, die-offs and dark nights. It just depends on our chemistry, programming and situation. But the standard cycle is to rise to heaven, cavort with angels then later to descend to hell. This hyperbolic flip can occur within hours, days or months...the period for the major die-off associated with ones lifetime kundalini peak is probably around three months between the up-peak at summer solstice to the down peak at fall equinox. Believe me you are not less of a person because you didn't go down. You may do so on another cycle or if your pace accelerates. Going down is just as fascinating as going up.
Well after our dark nights and die-offs are finished we intuit the benefits of the hell aspect of metamorphosis. We slowly become nondual about the difficulty of the journey. If one is not "afraid" of pain, loneliness, alienation, confusion, loss, being lost, grieving, shadow, lower nature--then this might speed synchronicity, the acausal connecting principle. Synchronicity, the intimate dance between Self and All, lies under all our reactivity to our perceived demons.
We have been trained in the black and white doctrine of either "sickness or health." Transmutation however teaches us the need to actually "die" in order to "transform." There is such Grace in the die-offs if only we don't interpret them as being a problem. This secondary layer of assuming the die-off is " wrong" is the main cause of our inertia to transmutation. If we consciously and piously surrender to a die-off, then there is less chance of emotional, mental and physical damage. With knowledge of the process we can proceed with less friction and hell into the realm of light. If the die-off is aided and allowed to run its full cycle then resurrection is able to proceed smoothly. If we resist the die-off, we interfere with the next stage of metamorphic growth and development.
A die-off may feel like a depression because the cerebral cortex is not in normal operating mode and the energies and functions of the body are drawn away from egoic operation. Some misinterpret the die-off as depression, and this does this holy event great injustice and people will start medicating and resisting the Dark Night (die-off) rather than honoring and assisting it. Also the depression of the existentialists is a malaise of the ego, not the actual ego-death associated with a die-off. Some people because the way their neurochemistry is primed will always flip into a depression after the electrical initiation of the influx. This is unfortunate...but we tend to make people this way with our unnatural diet and removal from natures vital forces.
Compounded onto the primary incapacitation of the bodymind during a die-off, there might be a secondary depression or sense of "dark night" which comes about through a lack of understanding and acceptance of the die-off process. The ego essentially gets a "shock" over its loss of faculty and tenacity. And considering the fragile nature of our modern bodies, this secondary depression could last for an extended period due to our misunderstanding and mistrust of metamorphosis.
If there is fear, ignorance, a severe reaction or psychotic reasoning around a die-off, there may be an extended depression involved, which is in a way the ego self trying to maintain the "smallness" of the id and prevent the limitless "space" involved in stepping out of the cocoon. It's not a conscious decision to remain small, it's the rigidity and inertia of the unconscious. Part of the resistance to growth is due to the lack of loving-telepathic peer relationship that allows us to transmute naturally as nature intended.
When society knows about the catabolic die-off and can appreciate it as necessary to growth, then it will be respected and revered and this secondary fallout won't happen as much. It will be known to be a simple metabolic process of the morphing individual, with little story and meaning attached to it, other than we cannot grow one inch without it.