A Therapists Thoughts on Overcoming Depression
Depression is often depicted as a heavy feeling, a weight on the mind. But it doesn’t have to weigh you down forever.
Sometimes depression is due to mental disorders or chemical imbalances. But in many cases, it comes from somewhere else. After years of working with people suffering from this condition, my belief is that the second kind of depression is something that develops through a sense of helplessness -- in psychological terms, an external locus of control. The depth of someone’s depression is determined by how far they are from where they think they should be.
This is why a reality check is necessary. I try to get clients to ask themselves, ‘Is it really true that I should be over there at this time?’ It’s not easy: When you’re depressed, it is unrealistic to expect yourself to be able to ‘figure it all out.’ You’re depressed because you feel overwhelmed, and that overwhelm is what needs to be addressed first.
This means a refocus of thinking, a gaining of perspective, and some logic, so that the sufferer can see what is actually realistic and probable. One important thing for a depressed person to realise is that given the same skills and situation, anyone would have made the same decisions as they have. But coming to this conclusion and finding that logic and perspective isn’t easy. We have to move out of the emotional and into a practical mindset. Once this happens, it is possible to create a plan of action.
Yes, a plan. Depression often means inactivity, feeling stuck in dark thoughts and tormented emotions. Understanding what’s at the root of those emotions is important. But it’s also important not to dwell on that for too long. Instead, once they’ve had a little time to take stock of their situation, a person trying to overcome depression has to begin to focus on a solution, putting their energy into that.
When I work with people who are suffering from depression, I often take on more of a coaching role. I support them and help them identify the path forward. Then, I help them -- as appropriate -- gather or build up the resources and skills they need to move along the path to where they think they should be.
Here’s the process, step by step:
- Get Real: Ask yourself honestly, with no BS and no fantasy, ‘Where am I, and where do I want to be?’
- Clarify: Ask yourself, ‘What do I need that I don’t currently have, that will support me to get THERE?’
- Commit: Commit to doing what’s necessary so that you can muscle up and do the stuff required to get THERE.
- Implement: Do the stuff.
- Accountability: Knowing that you will be held accountable and that someone has your back, helps to ensure that you will follow through.
The process itself is simple, although it can at times be a challenging journey. But the destination is immeasurably worth it. When your thoughts are clear, when you’ve overcome the obstacles keeping you from where you really should be, mud has been wiped from a car windshield. You can see the path ahead of you – and you can take it.
If you’re suffering from depression, I hope this post has given you pause. Maybe you could even try to apply the list to your own situation. Working with someone can be immensely helpful, as well. Whether you confide in a loved one, ring a helpline, or come to work with a therapist like myself, remember that you’re not alone, and that there is hope. With the right amount of energy and strategy, the heavy weight of depression can be lifted.