Getting Unstuck From Depression


I know there will be some folks that are taken back by this statement, but I am going to say it anyway…talking about your depression only keeps you stuck -- not talking about it also keeps you stuck! Depression hurts, it hurts the one depressed, their families, the workplace, productivity, cities, communities and our planet as a whole. If you think that you can fix things by talking it out with wives, coworkers or best friends, think again. Because talking doesn't help so much, it inflames, fans the emotions and prolongs healing. Does bottle these feelings up work better? Not at all, better to set a new direction that puts the issues of life in its perspective. Recognizing the feelings helps, but don't get stuck there.

Like the Law of Attraction, what you think about and talk about comes back to you like a bad penny. Fueled by the negative hypnosis of the stream of consciousness, the constant restating of the issue, the pain, the heartbreak, over and over again provides only temporary relief, if at all. Friends and coworkers end up feeling guilty, because the temporary relief they offer doesn’t change anything, and trying to constantly reassure loved ones brings their own energy down. The truth is when people are very depressed; it is better to leave this work to a professional.

Unfortunately, stories of depression are not isolated, our headlines are full of these stories, and Robin Williams comes first to mind in a long line of suffers of depression. Band-Aids don’t help, because you cannot be with someone 24-7 at some point they need to manage what they are thinking about. That comes through challenging those thoughts, changing them to make them different. I encourage anyone that feels lost and alone; feels depressed or suicidal, to get help ASAP. First by acknowledging the feelings, and cognitive help to restructure those thoughts. This will empower you beyond what I can say here, although, I will qualify this with there is work that has to be done, it is not magic!

So how do you know there is a problem, beyond a situational experience that leaves one feeling bad for a few days? Let’s look at the telltale signs; feelings seem to stay with you no matter what you do or whom you are with, its overwhelming. If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.

  • You can’t sleep or you sleep too much

  • You can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult

  • You feel hopeless and helpless

  • You can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try

  • You have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating

  • You are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual

  • You’re consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behavior

  • You have thoughts that life is not worth living (seek help immediately if this is the case)

Whether you or someone else is depressed, the first step is to admit there is a problem. If you are talking with a family member or friend, colleague or child, identify the situation and get commitment to get help. There are many different ways to address depression and there is help available, so don’t lose hope. From my experience and after years of work and research that CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works quickly and without aftereffects.

During NIMH's Depression Research and Treatment Program, of about 1000+ patients that went through it, we found some interesting things. We used 4 major common therapeutic techniques: Social (talking), Drug (medicine), CBT (thought restructuring), Placebo (sugar pill). What we found is that all worked to some degree, but talking worked far less and took longer. The other three modalities yes even the placebo (when used in a supportive environment) worked better then rehashing the things that made people feel depressed.

Oddly enough, those who are situationally depressed get addicted to the pain they are feeling and don’t realize they can get free of a constant loop of depressive thinking. Even those who are biochemically depressed also get stuck in this never-ending looping cycle. We think we are helping by listening to the same stories over and over again, but letting someone stew in the juices of their pain is counter-productive, and unkind. The reason this is so, is that as soon as you have soothed someone's depression and they have to be alone again, they are left with those "hot" painful thoughts, all alone with their misery. Life is so changeable, even feelings and to illustrate, understand that feelings come after a thought, the formula goes like this:

We have a Thought, then Feeling and lastly Action or behavior! So if you change the thoughts or cool them down, you will neutralize or make more pleasant each feeling, turning them from hot and painful, to cool and neutral. This doesn't mean to deny a feeling, but to find a different way to look at a situation. Of course, there is more to it, finding the evidence for the feeling, and otherwise strengthening executive functioning and the ego, also contribute to healing, because depressive thinking can color the way we perceive the world! So to recap, reframing is not denial, it is turning hot depressive or angry thoughts into cool and more pleasant thoughts, to make new, more useful thoughts that work for you and not against you.

Lastly, there are many types of depression, some are life long, some are mild, situational, biological, short term, etc. Typically however, there are ways to manage depression that actually cure. In this video from Ted Talks, Kevin Breel, Comic/Activist shares his story, and I applaud and solute his efforts here.

If you are depressed say something! Tell a friend, tell a family member, clergy, etc, but don't think this is a cure. Once depression is identified, and owned, please know the work has just begun. I have seen Cognitive Behavioral Therapy work in thousands of cases. I agree with I Kevin Breel that we need to get rid of the stigma of surrounding depression and mental illness However, not everyone is stuck with it for his or her whole life.

Changing ones thoughts about life through restructuring works. So, if you are depressed, get help and if you know someone who is depressed, help him or her find a good cognitive behavioral therapist and get to work towards freedom. With a little dedication, they can restructure their thoughts in 20 weeks!

Note: Shirley Ryan, PhD, CCHt is a hypnotherapist, spiritual mentor and educator who is located in the Greenhaven-Pocket area of Sacramento, CA and offers services via teleconference. Find out more at ShirleyRyan.net, by emailing shirleyryanphd@gmail.com, or call 916-706-2287.

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