It is interesting how most people have a basic understanding, to say the least, of depression. Depression has been known as the most common disorder around the globe, so it’s no wonder that a lot of research has been conducted around this topic. The popular belief is that depression is experiencing low and sad feelings, and perhaps sleeping all day! Although this can be true in some cases, there is a lot more to it than that. As you may already know, depression is usually associated with low self-esteem, poor self-control, and a complexity of emotions, poor decision-making, poor cognitive process, and low motivation. In addition to mental symptoms, there are some physical symptoms such as having low energy, headaches/bodily pain or sensations, change in appetite, fatigue and sleeping problems, losing interest in previously enjoyed activities, withdrawal and/or isolation.
Some common thoughts of people who experience depression may be:
“Nothing works out, this is a disaster”
“I don’t want to do anything, I just want to sleep all day long”
“ I am a failure, I am a total loser”
“Life is just too hard, I can’t get things done. I don’t have any energy/motivation”
“I have nothing to look forward to”
“Everyone just bug me, I feel so irritated with everything and everyone”
“I can’t decide; I cannot think straight”
“ I feel suffocated”
“ I am a burden to others; I wish I did not exist”
“I don’t feel like eating; everything I want to eat just tastes bland and uninteresting”
“Nobody cares for me; no one ever has, no one ever will”
“I was always a failure, I failed in my relationships, I failed in my job, I just fail…fail…and fail”
Do some of these thoughts sounds familiar to you? You might now ask yourself “I was not like this two months ago, how did I get here?” To answer that, let’s see how depression works and how external factors as well as negative automatic thinking (NATS) that you may have about yourself, people, the world and future can affect your mood. You might have heard of Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is deemed to be the most effective approach for treating depression. This approach focuses on the relationship between thoughts, actions/events, and feelings. This therapy uses the ABC model – A for the “Situation”, B for “Beliefs & Thoughts” and C for “Consequences”. To understand how this model is used let’s go over an example:
Let’s say you are walking down the street, and you recognize your friend from a distant but then (s) he passes by you without recognizing you. This is the situation (“A”) in this model. The next two steps, beliefs/thoughts and consequences, are affected by the interpretation and meaning you give to the event. Let’s consider two scenarios:
The first scenario, you tell to yourself that your friend might have been so busy with his/her own errands that they did not even see you! This interpretation can thought of as a rational and healthy belief, hence it does not affect your mood.
In the second scenario, if you are struggling with depression you may have what CBT calls cognitive distortions. As such when your friend walks by you, you may in engage in such thoughts that cause you to domind reading, fortune-telling, catastrophizing, and so on. For example, you might doubt yourself that there must be something wrong with you or that your friend could be mad at you and you start ruminating or continuously thinking about this event. Regardless, you can imagine the unhealthy and negative emotions you could be experiencing.
As you can see, negative thoughts can trigger negative emotions therefore, affecting our mood, which then leads to our behaviour. It is fast and automatic and outside of the conscious awareness of the person doing the thinking. This doesn’t mean that these thoughts aren’t there, as a matter of fact they are and they can have a great influence on emotional states. The good news is that you can learn techniques to have power over your negative thoughts or what we like to call “stinkin’ thinkin”. All you have to ask yourself is are you ready to take this first step towards improvement? Of course it takes a lot of courage to take the first step and we are here to help you walk through each step! If you believe that you are ready to take the first step, contact us today to begin this amazing journey!