6 Simple Steps

• Get help.  Find a good talk therapist—a psychologist or clinical social worker—who is experienced with depression.  Ideally, this person should be trained in Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) and in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression.  You should also consult a psychiatrist and consider starting an antidepressant medication.

Identify your feelings and moods. Depression is a self-destructive effort to avoid feeling. Accept that emotions are natural and helpful. Learn that mood changes don’t come “out of the blue” — they are always started by an event, a memory, a dream. Use the Mood Journal ([link] to identify what starts your mood changes.

• Challenge depressed thinking. People with depression remember and blame themselves for bad events, while they forget about and give others credit for good events. Their low expectations mean they often don’t prepare adequately and give up too easily.  They are plagued by guilt and self-blame.  Worst, they think they are essentially different — damaged somehow — from other people. These are all learned habits of thought that can be unlearned. Pay attention to your assumptions and beliefs.  Learn that your thoughts are not objective and not true.

• Let others know. Depressives fear intimacy more than most people. We put on masks for the world, because we believe our true selves to be shameful, unworthy. But this belief is wrong. When we’re with someone we can trust, sharing our thoughts and feelings — even if they seem unimportant — is good for us.

• Take care of your self. Learn to pay attention to messages from your body. Depressives abuse themselves by not eating right, not exercising, then expecting to work 12 hours straight. They will deny a minor ache or pain until they have an ulcer or a chronic back condition. Take time for moderate exercise, eat healthy but delicious meals, and allow yourself some pleasure in life.

• Practice mindfulness. We spend far too much time and effort trying to control things that aren’t worth the struggle. Many things that worry us are really unimportant; we’ve just gotten overinvolved and lost our bearings. We may find that we’re trying to change things that we realistically cannot change. Instead of battering your head against a brick wall, learn to walk away.