Reconceptualizing And Deconstructing Mild Depression

SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION

  • Appetite variation, eating less, or comfort eating, eating more
  • Sleep disturbance, difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much
  • Lack of concentration, poor memory
  • Irritability
  • Loss of libido\Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed, as they do not produce pleasure.
  • Social isolation, withdrawing from friends, family.
  • Self-neglect, poor grooming, neglecting to take care of your environment
  • Decreased motivation and activity levels, feeling lethargic, feeling hopeless, lacking in future thinking
  • Strong negative thoughts about self, feeling guilty
  • Flattened emotions, feeling numb, suicidal thoughts, not caring if you live or die, or wanting “this” to end, or go away.

CHECK FOR OTHER MORE SERIOUS FORMS OF DEPRESSION THAT MAY REQUIRE MEDICAL ASSISTANCE. 

Do you have periods of severe depression or depressive symptoms that may alternate between depressive periods and periods of hypomania, or mania? If so, you may want to use this information to address your symptoms with a doctor or a psychiatrist. They would be able to properly assess you and provide you with a treatment plan that may involve anti-depressant medications. 

UNDERSTANDING HOW DEPRESSION WORKS, WHAT FUELS YOUR DEPRESSION?

When you try to minimize your depression; when you try to alleviate your depression, it might strengthen your feelings of depression. You focus on doing what your mood dictates, when in fact, you want to override, fight through, and push yourself to do the opposite of what you feel to do. By adding the following actions to your depression, you “fuel” your depression. You are putting “gas in your car.”

  • Rumination – hooked into repetitive negative thinking, repeatedly going over your problems
  • Negative thinking – your negative thoughts are based on cognitive schemas, or your core beliefs that say you are worthless, helpless, or a failure. You might feel the world is unsafe, and even feel like a failure or not good enough. 
  • Inactivity – you struggle with day-to-day tasks; you lose interest in activities you liked in the past. You stay in bed because you believe that’s all you are able to do. 
  • Social withdrawal – you avoid people, you do not interact with people around you, or with family or friends. 
  • Procrastination – when you feel helpless, you might avoid specific tasks, such as being too overwhelmed to do the dishes, pay bills, or take a shower.
  • Shame – your depressive feelings bring on shameful thoughts, as you may believe people will judge you for having depression. You could blame yourself if you overestimate the inconvenience of your depressive symptoms on your family members. 
  • Hopelessness – thinking you will never feel better, and your situation will never improve. So you think, “What’s the point?”

If you compare driving a car to having depression, the car is the depression, and the actions listed above is like the “gas” you put into your car to be able to drive it. Negative thinking, inactivity, shame, guilt, and hopelessness fuels your depression; it maintains your depression. Also, what about a driver that is needed to drive the car? What drives your depression? Rumination drives depression. Rumination is the chasing of your worrying; it is the chasing of all the “what ifs,” it is the circular thoughts that run rampant in your head. Instead of fueling and driving your depression, do the colossal – do the opposite. Doing only what you feel like you can do, only maintains your sense of hopelessness, it sustains your thoughts of procrastination or your feelings of loneliness and subsequent social withdrawal, which obviously supports your feelings of guilt and shame. 

Do something! Even if you do not receive any pleasure from it. Remember, the lack of motivation is a symptom of depression, so depression is dulling your ability to enjoy doing anything. You have to spark yourself back up. Trust yourself and learn to believe in yourself all over again. 

TIPS FOR HEALING

  • Learn about ruminative thinking – the mental thought processes of repeating similar thoughts over and over. Ruminating is about contemplating the negativity that comes out of being depressed and think about how life could have been done differently. This circular thinking is believed to engender a solution for the problem.
  • Understand when you are compelled to ruminate, you might believe it is the only way your problems will get fixed, and thus your depression will go away. The key is to know when you ruminate, you drive your depression; thus the key is to “stop driving” to  un-ruminate” yourself.
    • Pay attention when you get stuck or stop moving.
    • When you slow down, when you feel you have to pause in life, your concentration can be affected by rumination. 
    • When you are very sad or very tired you will have a better chance to ruminate
    • You repeat the same old thoughts, you might believe you must answer questions about the meaning of life.
    • Remember what you worry about is not the problem. The rumination process is the problem, So, just disengage with your ruminating thoughts by letting them pass by.
    • So get busy – do something outside yourself, force yourself to do any physical activity. Even doing the dishes with the radio on works or make a phone call to your friends.
    • Work out- exercise, walk or run, just keep moving. 
    • Get up and out – get outside, be in the company of others, you will find you ruminate less. 
    • Let your negative thoughts go – let them pass you by, do not engage with your thoughts or judge them. Just accept their existence.
    • Re-direct your attention – strengthen your attention, deliberately focus on some positive things.
    • Tell yourself, “My depressive thoughts are symptoms of my depression. I have made them up, so I can unmake them. Even though they feel true and important, my thoughts are untrue, and not important, 
    • Do not act mindlessly – act mindfully. So, pay attention to the smallest details of whatever you are doing.

Observe your negative thoughts and accept them and let them pass by. Do not judge.

  • Practice acceptance – accept your depression, accept you are not lazy, accept your depression is an illness. Do not demand yourself to feel better.
  • Give yourself credit.

Honour your compassion towards yourself. 

  • Give yourself a pat on your back whenever you do anything different
  • Compliment yourself, say “Bravo” when you get the dishes done.
  • Be wary of poor coping tools, such as alcohol or drugs.
  • Get a new outlook on life, post it on your fridge for extra reminders every day.

DO BEHAVIOURAL ACTIVATION 

  • Create a calendar of everything you currently do all day. 
  • Write down everything you do on an hourly basis, Tuesday  – 9:00 – 11:00 on my phone.
  • Gradually replace some of your activities with something else, 9:00 – 10:00 on my phone go for a walk
  • Socialize with people and remember you don’t have to talk about your depression. Listening to others can take you away from your own thoughts.
  • If you want to feel normal again, you have to “act” normal again.
  • Make a schedule to take care of yourself, put “take a shower” in your calendar. 
  • Work on sleep hygiene – to get a good night’s sleep you want to establish a schedule, avoid lying in bed awake, establish a bedtime routine, set realistic sleep expectations. Make you bedroom your sleeping room.

ACCESS THERAPEUTIC ASSISTANCE

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Mindfulness Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.