learned through self-help education are needed. There is neverwell, rarely
a single cause for depression; the person him/herself and the therapist have
to look for hurtful childhood experiences, upsetting current situations, and
The needed skills arent just uncovering childhood hurts and anger. Learning
ways to express ones feelings is very important and counter to the
depressives tendency to suppress feeling. Not having feelings is an unhealthy
condition. Writing feelings in a journal may teach you how to better express
feelings to yourself and with others. Learn to use several
social/communication skills in chapter 13 that deal with handling emotions. If
you are uptight, learn to relax. However, OConnor makes a good point when
he says some of the skills we develop with depression in a vain effort to save
ourselves painemotional over-control, isolation, putting others first, being
over-responsibleprevent our recovery. So one has to look for traits and
habits that stand in the way of tactfully expressing ones feelings and then
develop ways to experience and share feelings.
Since so much depression occurs unconsciously, it is reasonable to seek
professional help with this problem. This doesnt mean you are hopeless
without an insight oriented therapist. What I hope I have made clear is that
mastering self-help techniques can increase the efficacy of psychotherapy and
improve the eventual outcome.
Conclusion: Final words of advice
Don't let your computer get overloaded looking at all these
methods. Remember just reading will not make you happy; you must
DO SOMETHING with the ideas you read! You must change how you
act and think. Find two or three methods that seem practical to you
and give them an earnest try! If your first attempts don't work, try
something else until you feel less depressed.
Don't assume that the psychological methods above will instantly
change or overcome the ways you have been acting, feeling, or
thinking for many years. You can't just plan one active, fun weekend
and, then, expect the depression to lift forever. You can't try stopping
depressing thoughts for two or three hours and, then, expect these
upsetting ideas to stop forever. You can't just try for an hour to think
of positive things about yourself and, then, expect to like everything
about yourself ever after. It is a major undertaking to change yourself
from a pessimist into an optimist. We are talking attending to details
for weeks or months.
Note again: If your depression is serious or dangerous, get professional help immediately.
Even if your depression is not serious but a support group and/or your self-help efforts are
not helping, get individual therapy from two experienced professionals--a MD and a
psychotherapist. If medication has not helped, see a psychotherapist. If several sessions