Depression is a lonely road, traveled by a one-trick pony. Whether depression is a nagging symptom or completely disabling, it is one of the most common reasons people seek counseling.
Most often, people think medication is the first line of treatment, but that is rarely the case. I like to think of treating depression like planning a route on a map. Typically, depression results from the mind’s defense system against chronic frustrations. Basically, depression is a dead-end street, a resting point, after some attempts to make life changes to meet needs have been ineffective.
Are you feeling depressed? It’s time to get off that one-trick pony and slide behind the wheel of a tricked-out roadster.
Finding these alternate routes to wellness is where counseling can be useful. In our culture, we tend to blame others for our unhappiness. How often have you heard someone say, “If he would just do (fill in the blank) then we would be fine!” The truth is, you can’t force anyone to change. What’s more, someone else changing doesn’t cure depression. There’s no one else on your path back to wellness. It’s just you.
Now, you could see this as depressing in and of itself, or you could see this as simple and freeing (a good example of changing your perception). If the changes you will make are only your own, and you dump the heavy baggage of frustration from hoping others will change, it is likely you will discover some energy to start your journey.
Sometimes this insight brings total recovery; sometimes it is just the start. Either way, the first burst of energy you feel with depression recovery is critical. Do something. Exercise is enormously helpful, assuming you are healthy enough for it. Making sweeping declarations and changes in your relationships can be useful but is a high-risk, high-energy move. Maybe there’s a third avenue. Often, the “something” is to consciously change the way you think about your relationships or situation.
The key to recovery from depression is to be aware of energy and frustration. Feeling a little Freudian? Not to worry, we’re not going that deep and I’m not blaming anyone’s mom. In fact, I’m not blaming anyone. Remember, this is a lonely road. When I talk about energy, I am talking about the energy you need to get through the day. The energy to handle your job, the kids, relationships, laundry. This change can happen all from the comfort of your non-Freudian couch.
To start your journey back from depression:
- Think about a situation that depresses or frustrates you (actually two sides of the same coin). It likely is sapping your energy—which is a strong warning that depression is lurking. Since we know the only real control you have is the way you think about something, it’s a perfect starting point.
- Express your complaint (to yourself or a counselor) and then ask, “Is there another way of looking at this issue?”
- When you think of a fresh perspective, it is often instantly followed by an excuse. Tell that excuse-making voice to hush, and enjoy the new perspective.
- Try it on for a while. See how it feels. Journaling through this process is enormously useful.
- Remember, this isn’t a one-shot deal—changing your thinking and perspective takes practice. You may have to travel down a few roads to see which way of connecting feels best.
The benefit here is that as you spend less energy feeling frustrated, mad, and ultimately depressed, you will have more energy to handle your daily life. The more energy you have, the more potential for success and happiness. Try these ideas out in your life and let me know how they work for you. If you’re not finding the recovery you’re seeking, try talking with an experienced counselor who can help you bypass any roadblocks in your journey.
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Kelly Baez, PhD, LPC, NCC, therapist in Atlanta, Georgia
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