- How does my depression manifest itself?
- What are some causes of my depression?
- What irrational beliefs lead me into depression?
- What are some negative effects of depression?
- How can I overcome depression?
- What steps can I take to overcome depression?
How does my depression manifest itself?
When depressed, I experience:
- a loss of enthusiasm for life.
- a lack of energy for self-growth.
- confusion as to what is the meaning of life for me.
- a blue funk.
- a lack of excitement or appreciation for my accomplishments in life.
- lethargy, tiredness, and exhaustion.
- an inordinate desire to sleep.
- a flat emotional affect.
- boredom with my life, job, family, friends.
- the absence of spontaneity or joie de vivre.
- a lack of desire to keep on keeping on.
- the feeling that the world would be better off if I no longer existed.
- the desire to run away or end it all.
- the feeling that I am only an observer of life and not involved in it.
- a sense of living in slow motion.
- a feeling of energy and drive in the midst of a crises, deadline, or tragedy.
- tearfulness and weeping for no apparent reason.
- loneliness, isolation, a lack of being connected to the others in my life.
- apathy, discontent, and a hollow feeling regarding my day to day existence.
What are some causes of my depression?
I feel depressed when I:
- have a chemical imbalance, physical or biological, needing medical attention.
- have experienced extended time periods of being shut in the house due to seasonal conditions and lack appropriate amounts of sunshine and clean air
- experience a failure or loss in life.
- hold in my anger.
- review my past life and fail to see a meaning or reason for it.
- have a conflict, disagreement, or fight with those I either live or work with.
- feel guilty over something I have done or said.
- have been criticised or found to be lacking.
- doubt my ability to be successful.
- let myself down by not being as perfect or as accomplished as I would like to be.
- face the futility of the human condition.
- don’t feel approved by someone whose approval I am seeking.
- experience a major change in my life.
- have accomplished something that has taken much energy and effort, i.e., the birth of child, a marriage, a divorce, landing a new job, graduating from school.
- have to deal with death.
- experience rejection in a relationship.
- sense that I have no control over the negative experiences in my life.
- realise that others question my competence, judgment, knowledge, ability, or worth.
- doubt my decisions, actions, or accomplishments.
- recognise that I am powerless in the face of addictive or compulsive behavioural problems.
- am on vacation or have a day off.
- experience the “holidays” (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, etc.)
- continue to respond with the behavioural role pattern I learned in my dysfunctional family.
- am ill or disabled.
- hear news that has affected others adversely.
- realise that my dreams for the future are unrealistic; fantasies with no possibility of ever being accomplished.
- am confused over my direction, goals, or priorities in life.
- learn something new about life, something which if I had known earlier would have made my life more pleasant or successful.
- continue to not know what “normal” is, have no idea of “normal” behaviour, or “healthy” behaviour.
- am unable to connect with people in healthy relationships.
- can’t identify the reason for my unhappy, sad, or worried feelings.
- ignore my need to express anger in a healthy, productive manner.
- feel inadequate.
- continue to rely on crises, deadlines, or tragedies to overcome my lethargy and lack of energy.
- am jealous of those I perceive to have achieved the “ideal” life.
What irrational beliefs lead me into depression?
- I should not make mistakes.
- People should automatically recognise my worth and value.
- It is wrong for me to show my anger.
- It is a sin to be angry at my parent’s behaviour toward me.
- I should not disagree with others.
- People should accept me the way I am.
- My loved ones should not leave me, should not die.
- I should not get sick or disabled.
- What I do should be done perfectly.
- I should be rewarded in life for my hard work and sacrifices.
- Things should not change.
- I should be happy when I am successful.
- The “holiday” season should be the happiest time of my year.
- I should be in control over all aspects of my life.
- I work best under pressure.
- If you want a thing done, give it to a busy person.
- I am unable to avoid the crises in my life.
- I should be able to solve problems that come my way.
- I am only worthwhile if I accomplish something visibly productive on a daily basis.
- I should not consider my current problems or behaviour as a reflection of the way I was reared.
- My goals in life should be clear.
- I should not be suffering today because of the way I was reared.
- Relationships should be established and maintained with ease.
- Others should know what I need from them without my having to ask; it’s perfectly clear.
- I should have been more successful, but others held me back.
What are some negative effects of depression?
When I feel depressed I:
- find others unwilling to get involved with me, actually avoiding me.
- have self-destructive or suicidal thoughts.
- escape into unhealthy behaviour patterns.
- withdraw from life, face my problems passively.
- escape into watching TV, reading, daydreaming or other obsessive but passive behaviour.
- ignore my creativity, imagination, and ingenuity in facing my problems.
- procrastinate, feeling overwhelmed by my responsibilities, duties, and tasks.
- turn off my positive emotional response to life.
- ignore my personal health with poor personal hygiene, no weight control, and lack of proper exercise.
- get hooked on the need for the adrenalin rush that comes with a crisis, a deadline, or other pressures, even tragedies to get me through life.
- am anxious, nervous, tense, and uptight for no apparent reason.
- feel like a loser.
How can I overcome depression?
In order to overcome depression I need to:
- recognise that I am depressed.
- have a complete physical exam to rule out some other physiological cause for my depression
- be willing, under the supervision of an appropriate physician, to use an anti-depressant medication to help me get over the “hump” of my current bout of depression
- determine whether the depression is situation specific (related to a current situation in my life) or chronic (a part of my behaviour for a long period of time).
- identify the causes of my depression.
- change my irrational thinking and develop a more realistic perspective.
- accept that anger is the basis for my depression, and make a concerted effort to do anger work-out sessions daily to lessen its impact.
- realize that depression is a fact of life, that it accompanies loss, grief, and even success.
- find a place in my life for relaxation efforts such as self-hypnosis, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation.
- use visual imagery to see my life without depression and put my energy into the pursuit of a positive goal.
- develop a crisis prevention, time management, and catastrophic intervention plan of action.
- develop a balanced lifestyle with good nutrition, a balanced diet, aerobic exercise, adequate sleep and stress reduction.
- work at self-esteem enhancement, self-affirmation, self-reinforcement.
- commit myself to a specific plan of action to overcome my depression.
What steps can I take to overcome depression?
Step 1: I will review this chapter, then answer the following questions in my journal:
- How effectively do I cope with life?
- How can I recognise depression in my life?
- What symptoms of depression do I currently experience?
- What current life situations contribute to my depression?
- What explanations clarify my chronic state of depression?
- How does my current situational depression exacerbate my chronic depression?
- How do I feel about admitting that I am depressed?
- What hinders my efforts to overcome my depression?
- What feedback do I get from others that alerts me that depression is a problem for me?
- How is my depression related to my low self-esteem?
Step 2 Once I have explored the symptoms of depression and admitted that I am depressed, I will attempt to identify the causes. I will answer the following questions in my journal:
- How did life in my family of origin result in my current depression?
- What losses have I experienced in the last five years to explain my current depression?
- What successes or achievements in the past five years have I experienced that might explain this current depression?
- What does my family doctor or psychiatrist say about the physical, biological or chemical contribution to my depression? How do I feel about the need for medication to keep me in chemical balance?
- What is my family history of depression? Which relatives had depression or had “breakdowns?” What is my family history of suicide? How do I feel about the concept of having a genetic predisposition to depression?
- What are the causes for both chronic and situational depression in my life? (Put these in your journal in separate lists.)
- How does my need for excitement in crises, deadlines, pressures, and tragedy relate to my depression?
Step 3: Once I have identified the causes of my chronic and/or situational depression, I need to identify my irrational beliefs that contribute to my depression. I can work to refocus my thinking. To do this I will answer the following questions in my journal:
- How rational or realistic is my current thinking?
- What beliefs contribute to my current depression?
- What is the source of these beliefs?
- What is the worst thing that could happen if I no longer hold on to these beliefs?
- What rational beliefs could I substitute to overcome my depression?
Step 4: Once I have begun to rethink and rewrite my irrational beliefs, I need to address the negative effects of depression in my life by answering the following questions in my journal:
- What effect does my depression have on my relationships? In my marriage? My family? My friends? My co-workers?
- In what self-destructive behaviour do I currently engage?
- How withdrawn or passive have I become? How can I become more assertive?
- How does escapism defer my personal growth and happiness?
- What keeps me from taking control of my time, eliminating procrastination, and facing my depression?
- What positive aspects of my life do I seem to ignore?
- How does the condition of my body reflect the state of my depression? What positive steps would improve my physical response to depression?
- How is my anxiety and tension manifested? How can I reduce its impact on me?
- How often do I feel like a loser? At what am I a “winner”? How much do I work at being a winner? How deeply can I commit to the following belief: To be a winner in life you only need to be a winner at what you do best and admit that you are a winner.
- How committed am I to overcoming my depression?
Step 5: Now that I have reviewed the negative impact of depression in my life, I will record my plan of action to overcome my depression.
Action Plan for Overcoming Depression
- I am depressed.
- I have the following forms of depression:
(1) Chronic depression:
(2) Situational depression:
- The causes of my depression are:
- 4. The irrational beliefs that contribute to my depression include:
- 5. The new beliefs I need to help lessen my depression include:
- 6. I will work on the following anger to uproot my depression:
- 7. I will perform the following anger work-out activities to reduce my depression:
- 8. I will use visual imagery daily in the following ways:
- 9. My plan for a balanced life includes:
(1) nutrition and diet
(2) exercise, aerobic and other
(3) adequate hours of sleep
(4) relaxation activities
- 10. My plan for building self-esteem includes:
(3) visual imagery
- 11. I will take the following steps to determine if there is a physical, biological, or chemical basis for my depression:
(1) appointments with family doctor for complete physical exam
(2) lab work as needed
(3) prescriptions as needed
(4) therapy as needed
- 12. I commit to this plan and will review it on a monthly basis.
Step 6: I will lessen my depression using the tools I have been given. I will assess the status of my depression. If it has not improved, I will go back to Step 1 and begin the steps again.