Keep Holding Hope – Get Whole Therapy With the First Three Chapters Free
Chapter 1: Facts on Depression
|Symptoms of a Depressive Episode|
|depressed mood||loss of interest or pleasure||significant weight change|
|Women are 2x more likely to develop depression.|
|About 1 in 10 people will experience depression during their lifetime.|
|Most people experience their first depressive episode between ages 20 and 30.|
|Risks for Depression|
|Family history of depression or similar disorders.|
|Poverty, unemployment, social isolation, and other stressful life events.|
|Regular drug and alcohol use.|
|Psychotherapy (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)|
|CBT works by changing self-defeating thoughts and behaviors.|
CBT has been found to be equally, if not more effective than medicine in many cases.
CBT is the most researched form of psychotherapy for depression.
|Medication (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors)|
|SSRIs increase the level of serotonin (a chemical related to depression) in the brain.|
Studies suggest that SSRIs are the most effective when used to treat severe depression.
SSRIs don’t work overnight—it might take up to 6 weeks before they reach their full effect.
A combination of both psychotherapy and medication has been found to be the most effective treatment for depression.
|Over ½ of those diagnosed with depression also suffer from anxiety.|
|60% of those who die by suicide suffer from depression or a related mood disorder.|
|Physical exercise has been found to have a significant antidepressant effect.|
|Depressive episodes also occur during bipolar disorder alongside manic episodes.|
Chapter 2: Don’t Stop Holding Hope – Fighting the Lies of Depression
Cognitive distortions are irrational thoughts that have the power to influence how you feel. Everyone has some cognitive distortions—they’re a normal part of being human. However, if you have too many or they are extreme, they can be harmful. One common type of cognitive distortion is called catastrophizing. When catastrophizing, the importance of a problem is exaggerated, or the worst possible outcome is assumed to be true. By learning to question your own thoughts, you can correct many of these cognitive distortions.
How can you tell if you’re using cognitive distortions? You most certainly are! We all do at some point. Most negative thoughts are caused by these mistakes. The best way to stop thinking negatively is to figure out which distortions you use most, and which ones may be affecting your mood the most. At first, it might be hard to figure out what they are because they often feel like logical, correct thoughts. You believe them because, on some level, they make sense to you.
- Read yourself
- Identify the type of distortion
- Change roles
- Examine the evidence
- Sum of its parts
- Skip generalizations
- Avoid speculations
- No more “shoulds”
- Cost-benefit analysis
If you feel anxious all day without a clear cause or trigger, you may be using cognitive distortions. You might feel “stressed” or have physical symptoms like tense muscles or a racing heart, but not realize it’s anxiety. If you have anxiety but don’t know why, you might want to check in with yourself by asking yourself:
- Am I paying attention to this task, or is my mind elsewhere?
- Should I relax?
- Do I feel strange, like if I have a stomachache or my heart is beating fast?
- When did I first start to feel this way?
If you’re feeling anxious, pay attention to what you’re thinking. Think about asking yourself if these thoughts might be making you feel the way you do. Over time, you’ll be able to figure out which thoughts cause you to feel anxious or sad. This is the first thing we want to work on.
Find Your Most Common False Thoughts
It might be helpful to figure out what kind of negative thought you usually have. Metacognition is the key to this. This means to pay attention to what you’re thinking. Keeping a daily log of your feelings and thoughts could help. Step 1: Think about writing down your most important thoughts as they come to you. Don’t add to the thought when you do that. Instead, try to write down the idea exactly as it came to you. Step 2: Try to connect the idea to a place or event. Answer the following:
- When and where was the first time you had the bad thought?
- How often have you thought about it since then?
- Do you often think the same way in the same situations?
Step 3: Figure out how you feel when you have the thought and the situation. Step 4: After a while, or by the end of each week, try to put these ideas into groups based on a common theme. All “always” or “never” thoughts go together. “I always miss important meetings,” “I never say anything smart,” and “No one likes me.” This activity will help you figure out which thoughts you keep having and which ones make you feel worse.
How would you feel if someone said these bad things about someone you care about? For example, what would you say if your neighbor told your best friend, “Your partner doesn’t love you,” or “You always embarrass yourself in front of your boss,” and your friend believed them? Putting yourself in different roles can help you see different parts of the same situation that you might be missing. It can help you stop thinking bad things and replace them with thoughts that are more realistic and hopeful. For example, you might want to find counterarguments like, “They show you love. They called you twice today to see how you were doing and brought you dinner after working for more than 8 hours.”
Examine the Evidence
Most of the time, negative thought patterns aren’t based on facts. Examining the evidence is like switching roles in that you look for signs in the situation that go against your negative thoughts. If you find yourself criticizing or putting yourself down in your thoughts, for example, look at the evidence. Write down all the ways you’re helpful, loving, productive, or successful. If you’re thinking about something you said in a meeting this morning that might have been wrong, think about all the interesting things you’ve said and how much you’ve helped your team. You could even talk about how everyone felt during the meeting. Did they really pay that much attention to the bad things you said? You might also want to keep facts and opinions separate. “I’m so silly” is an opinion. It is true that “I didn’t turn in the report on time. “Most cognitive distortions are based on opinions that have nothing to do with the facts.
Sum of its Parts
As you find these bad ways of thinking, you’ll notice that they often have names. “You’re a failure,” “They’re losers,” and “I’m so boring” are all examples. These labels don’t describe the whole person. Someone might lose their job, fail a test, or want to skip a party sometimes. That doesn’t mean it’s always like this, though.
Overgeneralizing or thinking in black-and-white can make you think that a bad thing that happened to you applies to everything and everyone. For instance, just because you say something that isn’t true doesn’t mean that everything you say is false. If you can tell the difference, you can change the way you think about any situation. The “opposite threes” strategy might be useful. When you find yourself making a broad statement, think of three things that are the opposite of what you said. For example, when you think, “I never do anything right,” you might try to think of three times when you were correct, efficient, or successful.
We’re pretty sure you can’t read people’s minds. But there are many times when you may act or think the way you do. Because of this, it can be a good idea to do a “reality check” before jumping to conclusions. You can start by asking other people what they think about it. For example, instead of assuming your partner is losing interest in you, you could ask them if this is the case. If you’d rather not be so direct, you could ask how they’re feeling, how their day is going, or if they’re okay. When you do this, it’s very likely that you’ll find evidence that shows how wrong your thinking is. Believing what people tell you is, of course, a key part of this exercise. You can also ask other people what they think about a situation. For example, if you think your partner is losing interest in you because you’ve had some fights this week, you could ask your other friends who are in relationships what they think. It’s possible that your way of thinking starts to fall apart once you find out that other couples also fight. In other words, learning about other people’s experiences and opinions can help you figure out when your negative thoughts aren’t based on facts.
No More “Shoulds”
“Shoulds,” like “I should go to the gym every day” or “They should talk more during work meetings,” are a common way of thinking that leads to negative thoughts. These “shoulds” are like hard-and-fast rules that may set you and others up to fail. Try saying “I’d like to…” or “It’d be nice if…” instead of “I should.” This could change how you see things and take some of the pressure off, which could make your mood and outlook better.
A cost-benefit analysis usually means figuring out how much a decision will help and how much it will cost. In this case, you would take the ideas you’ve come up with and think about their pros and cons. Ask: “How does this thought help me and how does it hurt me?” If you realize that some of these thoughts hurt you more than they help, it may be easier to fight them. You might also find that you use some of these ways of thinking because they help you in some way.
When trying to get rid of bad thoughts, many people find it helpful to work with a mental health professional. If you feel like your distorted thoughts are affecting your relationships or how you see yourself, it might be a good idea to get help from a professional who can walk you through the steps. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the best way to fix distorted ways of thinking. If this sounds like something you’d like to do, you can use the Find a Psychologist tool from the American Psychological Association to look for a cognitive behavioral therapist. As you stop thinking negatively, you may find that your mood gets better in many ways.
Here is list of some of the most common cognitive distortions:
1. All-or-Nothing Thinking / Polarized Thinking
Also known as “Black-and-White Thinking,” this distortion manifests as an inability or unwillingness to see shades of gray. In other words, you see things in terms of extremes – something is either fantastic or awful, you believe you are either perfect or a total failure.
This sneaky distortion takes one instance or example and generalizes it to an overall pattern. For example, a student may receive a C on one test and conclude that she is stupid and a failure. Overgeneralizing can lead to overly negative thoughts about yourself and your environment based on only one or two experiences.
3. Mental Filter
Similar to overgeneralization, the mental filter distortion focuses on a single negative piece of information and excludes all the positive ones. An example of this distortion is one partner in a romantic relationship dwelling on a single negative comment made by the other partner and viewing the relationship as hopelessly lost, while ignoring the years of positive comments and experiences. The mental filter can foster a decidedly pessimistic view of everything around you by focusing only on the negative.
4. Disqualifying the Positive
On the flip side, the “Disqualifying the Positive” distortion acknowledges positive experiences but rejects them instead of embracing them. For example, a person who receives a positive review at work might reject the idea that they are a competent employee and attribute the positive review to political correctness, or to their boss simply not wanting to talk about their employee’s performance problems. This is an especially malignant distortion since it can facilitate the continuation of negative thought patterns even in the face of strong evidence to the contrary.
5. Jumping to Conclusions – Mind Reading
This “Jumping to Conclusions” distortion manifests as the inaccurate belief that we know what another person is thinking. Of course, it is possible to have an idea of what other people are thinking, but this distortion refers to the negative interpretations that we jump to. Seeing a stranger with an unpleasant expression and jumping to the conclusion that they are thinking something negative about you is an example of this distortion.
6. Jumping to Conclusions – Fortune Telling
A sister distortion to mind reading, fortune telling refers to the tendency to make conclusions and predictions based on little to no evidence and holding them as gospel truth. One example of fortune-telling is a young, single woman predicting that she will never find love or have a committed and happy relationship based only on the fact that she has not found it yet. There is simply no way for her to know how her life will turn out, but she sees this prediction as fact rather than one of several possible outcomes.
7. Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization
Also known as the “Binocular Trick” for its stealthy skewing of your perspective, this distortion involves exaggerating or minimizing the meaning, importance, or likelihood of things. An athlete who is generally a good player but makes a mistake may magnify the importance of that mistake and believe that he is a terrible teammate, while an athlete who wins a coveted award in her sport may minimize the importance of the award and continue believing that she is only a mediocre player.
8. Emotional Reasoning
This may be one of the most surprising distortions to many readers, and it is also one of the most important to identify and address. The logic behind this distortion is not surprising to most people; rather, it is the realization that virtually all of us have bought into this distortion at one time or another. Emotional reasoning refers to the acceptance of one’s emotions as fact. It can be described as “I feel it, therefore it must be true.” Just because we feel something doesn’t mean it is true; for example, we may become jealous and think our partner has feelings for someone else, but that doesn’t make it true. Of course, we know it isn’t reasonable to take our feelings as fact, but it is a common distortion, nonetheless.
9. Should Statements
Another particularly damaging distortion is the tendency to make “should” statements. “Should” statements are statements that you make to yourself about what you “should” do, what you “ought” to do, or what you “must” do. They can also be applied to others, imposing a set of expectations that will likely not be met. When we hang on too tightly to our “should” statements about ourselves, the result is often guilt that we cannot live up to them. When we cling to our “should” statements about others, we are generally disappointed by their failure to meet our expectations, leading to anger and resentment.
10. Labeling and Mislabeling
These tendencies are basically extreme forms of overgeneralization, in which we assign judgments of value to ourselves or to others based on one instance or experience. For example, a student who labels herself as stupid for failing an assignment is engaging in this distortion, as is the waiter who labels a customer rude if he fails to thank the waiter for bringing his food. Mislabeling refers to the application of highly emotional, loaded, and inaccurate or unreasonable language when labeling.
As the name implies, this distortion involves taking everything personally or assigning blame to yourself without any logical reason to believe you are to blame. This distortion covers a wide range of situations, from assuming you are the reason a friend did not enjoy the girls’ night out, to the more severe examples of believing that you are the cause for every instance of moodiness or irritation in those around you.
12. Control Fallacies
A control fallacy manifests as one of two beliefs: (1) that we have no control over our lives and are helpless victims of fate, or (2) that we are in complete control of ourselves and our surroundings, giving us responsibility for the feelings of those around us. Both beliefs are damaging, and both are equally inaccurate. No one is in complete control of what happens to them, and no one has absolutely no control over their situation. Even in extreme situations where an individual seemingly has no choice in what they do or where they go, they still have a certain amount of control over how they approach their situation mentally.
13. Fallacy of Fairness
While we would all probably prefer to operate in a world that is fair, the assumption of an inherently fair world is not based in reality and can foster negative feelings when we are faced with proof of life’s unfairness. A person who judges every experience by its perceived fairness has fallen for this fallacy, and will likely feel anger, resentment, and hopelessness when they inevitably encounter a situation that is not fair.
14. Fallacy of Change
Another ‘fallacy’ distortion involves expecting others to change if we pressure or encourage them enough. This distortion is usually accompanied by a belief that our happiness and success rests on other people, leading us to believe that forcing those around us to change is the only way to get what we want. A man who thinks “If I just encourage my wife to stop doing the things that irritate me, I can be a better husband and a happier person” is exhibiting the fallacy of change.
15. Always Being Right
Perfectionists and those struggling with Imposter Syndrome will recognize this distortion – it is the belief that we must always be right. For those struggling with this distortion, the idea that we could be wrong is unacceptable, and we will fight to the metaphorical death to prove that we are right. For example, the internet commenters who spend hours arguing with each other over an opinion or political issue far beyond the point where reasonable individuals would conclude that they should “agree to disagree” are engaging in the “Always Being Right” distortion. To them, it is not simply a matter of a difference of opinion, it is an intellectual battle that must be won at all costs.
16. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy
This distortion is a popular one, and it’s easy to see myriad examples of this fallacy playing out on big and small screens across the world. The “Heaven’s Reward Fallacy” manifests as a belief that one’s struggles, one’s suffering, and one’s hard work will result in a just reward. It is obvious why this type of thinking is a distortion – how many examples can you think of, just within the realm of your personal acquaintances, where hard work and sacrifice did not pay off? Sometimes no matter how hard we work or how much we sacrifice, we will not achieve what we hope to achieve. To think otherwise is a potentially damaging pattern of thought that can result in disappointment, frustration, anger, and even depression when the awaited reward does not materialize.
Chapter 3: Supporting Someone with Depression
Recognize that depression is an illness. Just like a cold or flu, a person cannot simply choose to “get over” depression. Also like other illnesses, depression can affect anyone. A person can develop depression even if they seem to have a good life, with little to be upset about.
Make a point to reach out. Many people with depression will isolate themselves, often falling out of touch with friends and family. That’s another time to remember that depression can affect anyone. You can’t make someone accept help, but you can provide the option. Check in regularly, invite them to talk, and reemphasize your support.
Just listening can help. You don’t have to fix your loved one’s problems or convince them that their negative feelings are wrong. Even if you disagree with some of their thoughts or feelings, respect and acknowledge that these experiences are real to them.
Be supportive of healthy habits. Exercise, healthy sleep habits, and socializing all contribute to mental health and combatting depression. Support these activities by giving encouragement, offering to accompany your loved one, or providing positive feedback.
Encourage professional help. Mental health counseling and medication are effective when treating depression. If your loved one is unsure where to start, offer to help them find the right provider, such as a physician, mental health counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist.
Connect your loved one with social support. In addition to professional help, your loved one may benefit from other sources of support. These could include community organizations, religious groups, or mental health support groups.
Take any mention of suicide seriously. Symptoms of depression include intense sadness, despair, and thoughts of suicide. If you feel that someone is in danger, don’t hesitate to call 911, take them to an emergency room, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for free and confidential support available 24/7. Again, take any mention of suicide seriously.
Make time for self-care. Supporting someone with depression can be frustrating, tiring, and emotionally draining. It’s okay to take a break just for you. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep, eating properly, exercising, and taking time to relax. This is especially vital. Make time for self-care.
You are not responsible for curing your loved one. Your love and support are valuable, but ultimately, you cannot make them better. It is unfair to yourself to take responsibility for another person’s depression, or their recovery. Make time for self-care.
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