Psychological Self-Help

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rejection less painful (especially if new exciting plans are also being
Desensitization and stress inoculation. If the depressing event
is anticipated, desensitization and stress inoculation could be used in
advance to reduce the impact. Example: Suppose you suspect that you
are about to be fired. Advanced planning of how to handle the
situation could help, e.g. requesting that your work be evaluated by an
unbiased outsider, offering to work for less, insisting that the decision
be taken to the next higher level, or threatening to sue. Also, you can
rehearse ways of calming yourself and responding to criticism.
Planning or actually starting to search for another job might also be
Whenever possible, anticipating, talking with a friend, and
"emotionally working through" a loss in advance is usually a lot better
way of handling the situation than pretending the loss is not going to
Express feelings. Some feelings can be reduced by getting them
off your chest--getting them "out of your system." A good cry can
sometimes relieve sadness. Beating a pillow can release rage. 
Get plenty of rest. Insomnia, especially waking up early, plagues
many depressed people. Relaxation and stimulus control procedures
have helped many people get the sleep they need (see chapter 5 and
Bootzin & Nicassio, 1978, or Catalano, 1990, or Perl, 1993). 
Pursue happiness. Overall happiness is not produced by
occasional intensely positive events but rather by frequent mildly
positive experiences. Many people feel those pleasant moments must
be unplanned and spontaneous but the evidence is otherwise, namely,
happiness can be self-generated. How? (a) Focus on achieving
emotional closeness with loved ones. (b) Find things about work that
you enjoy and want to work hard on. (c) Help others. (d) Exercise,
doing something you enjoy. (e) Plan to do new fun things too. (f) Have
lots of nice "moments," not just big highs (Diener, Sandvik, & Pavot,
The above isn't just the opinion of therapists. Many people who
have overcome depression say that the best signs that the depression
is over are re-engaging and enjoying the family, finding new career or
hobby interests, exercising, and getting involved in community
service. In short, they are enjoying life and people again. Anyone who
has been depressed realizes it is vastly different from being fully
For some people, the return of the joys of living seems to
automatically occur after getting over the basic physical aspects of
depression (feeling really down and tired, loss of appetite, under or
over sleeping, lacking interests, negative thoughts, especially of
death...). For other people, they need to find hope and to be given
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