How To Defeat Depression

I spend my days teaching clients how to use skills … to reduce tough symptoms of depression. One day, one of those same clients taught me a valuable lesson — it’s not about the individual skills, it’s about what they can do in combination.

A mighty oak will not fall in one swing of the ax; a formidable foe will not fall after a single punch; a powerful army will not raise the white flag after one shot fired; and a chess master will not resign after the very first move. In that same regard, depression will not be quelled following a single application of a therapeutic intervention – not a fact I like very much, but a fact nonetheless.

As a therapist who specializes in treating intense and unrelenting depression and anxiety often associated with chronic mental illness and personality disorders, I spend my days teaching clients how to use skills like deep breathing, distraction, positive activity scheduling, thought restructuring, and mindfulness to reduce tough symptoms of depression. One day, one of those same clients taught me a valuable lesson — it’s not about the individual skills, it’s about what they can do in combination.

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Dysregulation in the Workplace: An HR Nightmare

Working together, we developed a plan, based largely on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) strategies we therapists use when working with self-destructive clients. DBT lends itself to the needs of HR departments because it is behaviorally based and translates well into policies and protocols.

As a therapist specializing in the treatment of patients with Borderline Personality Disorder, it is not uncommon to get phone calls from frustrated friends, perturbed partners, exhausted parents, and discouraged roommates of my clients. I even get those calls from my own friends and family who have found themselves in a confounding situation with a neighbor or co-worker who seems to be suffering from features of the disorder (i.e. big fluctuations in mood, angry outbursts, extreme evaluations of others, dangerous and impulsive behaviors, etc).

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Changing Negative Thoughts

Your thoughts are just thoughts. They have no meaning other than the meaning you give to them. You are not the sum of your thoughts. Your thoughts do not define who you are. They are fleeting, here one moment, gone the next. They are neither good nor bad.

Depression debilitates. It saps your energy, erodes your confidence and leaves you in a mental haze that makes it impossible to do the things you once took for granted.   You become a prisoner to your racing thoughts and lose interest in the people and activities that used to satisfy you.  It’s hard to pick up one foot and put it in front of the other.  Just getting out of bed can be overwhelming.  Taking a shower and going to work can become impossible.  Even mindless TV doesn’t hold your interest.  The thoughts just won’t let you go.  You beat yourself up for not being able to do the things you once did with ease.  You ruminate about conversations that happened decades ago and what you should have said.  You can’t let go of the question, “what if this never ends?”  Life just doesn’t seem worth living.

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