Effective depression self help must involve changing depressive thinking
Successful depression self help requires changing one's way of thinking.
It has long been recognized by those who research and treat depression that depressed people think differently than nondepressed people. Aaron Beck, one of the developers of cognitive therapy, observed that his patients had a unique depressive way of thinking.
He called this depressive thinking the "cognitive triad." (Beck, 1970) The cognitive triad involves how those who are depressed view themselves, their world, and their future.
Firstly, the depressed person thinks that there is something wrong with him or her that makes happiness impossible. He or she has a self depreciating attitude.
For example, a depressed person thinks, "I am a loser" or "I am stupid."
Secondly, because of this personal inadequacy the depressed person notices negative, misfortunate circumstances but ignores positive, fortunate circumstances.
In our example, the depressed person may frequently receive positive feedback concerning his or her performance at work. One day a customer -- who is obviously in a bad mood -- complains. The depressed worker can only think about the complaint and sees it as confirming what a loser he or she is. The many positive comments that have been made are not even remembered.
Thirdly, because of the belief that he or she is inadequate, and his or her tendency to only notice negative experiences, the future is viewed as certain to be gloomy, dismal, and painful.
Back to our example. The depressed person thinks, "See there, Mr. Jones noticed how stupid I am and complained. That just confirms what I have known all along. I am stupid. Therefore, things will never be any better for me."
It is important to understand that this depressive thinking is "automatic." It is not the result of thinking the situation through objectively. It just happens rapidly without any reflection.
The negative attitude is learned from early life experiences. Because it is so automatic, it seems perfectly logical to the depressed person. He or she thinks, "That's just the way it is. Its obvious."
Someone else, however, can easily see how irrational the thinking is.
They may say, "I see you do good work almost all of the time. I have heard customers compliment you repeatedly. Mr. Jones was just having a bad day."
The depressed person responds, "I just can"
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