Monday, 9 July 2012

Beating Depression

At the start of this year I was diagnosed with mild depression. It took me a long time to even think that I might be depressed.   Like many people I originally thought depressed meant being sad all the time. It does not. My depression manifested as a lack of motivation and desire to do things. An overwhelming feeling of ‘Meh’ that could make it hard to get up in a morning.

After I realised what was going on in my head I looked for ways to fix it. I visited my doctor and talked to several of my mates who had or are suffering from a similar thing. Talking about it helped a lot and thanks to them I agreed to investigate Therapy.

Having spoken to my doctor I arranged a consultation with Talk Plus. They had no places available for more traditional chatting to a psychologist so I signed up for CBT. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

CBT is built around the idea that Behavior, Thoughts and Feelings are all interlinked and changing one can influence the others.

Without knowing it about a week before my first appointment I had already begun the behavioral part of CBT.   I had put together a list of my Dreamlines and started making changes to achieve them. Starting my diet and the fact that I was making deliberate, positive changes to the way I did things was also reinforcing the behavioral side of it.

Therefore they asked me to start with the cognitive side of things. The first exercise was deceptively simple; every time I thought of something that made me feel upset in some way I had to write down the thought and the feeling and try to rate its severity.

The 2nd part of the assignment was to take the thought and weigh up whether or not it was true.  Note down evidence for or against it and then use that evidence to re-frame the thought into something more useful or true. That week I had also read this post from Tim Ferris about words you shouldn’t use as they are poor shortcuts to proper thinking.

It was a simple exercise about changing or paying attention to the way you think.

Altogether the therapy, addressing the issues that were causing my depression and the support of my friends and family have allowed me to overcome it. I can't say it is beaten because it doesn't go away you just learn how to deal with it, but I am beating it.