Understanding what depression is.
We all know what it feels like to be depressed from time-to- time. We understand the heartache and depression coupled with the death of a loved one, the anguish we experience following a romantic breakup, or the utter despair after losing one’s job. We know this because we have all been there. We have been that person. Over time the feelings subside, we regain our composure, and eventually return to our old, normal selves. Yet, for many of us this does not happen. Instead of progressing through the natural recovery phase, we get stuck in a dark, gloomy place. This is what is meant by the term ‘clinical depression’.
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Reinvesting in activities that are incompatible with depression.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the most prevalent mental health condition in the world at the present moment. Is therefore, not surprising to learn that nearly one in every ten South Africans suffer from clinical depression (South African Stress & Health Study, 2008). But how do we go about treating depression from a therapeutic standpoint? Well, the first step is to identify any negative thoughts maintaining our depressed mood. The basic premise is that it is not the situation that causes us to feel depressed, but rather our interpretation of the situation. Secondly, we look at replacing these negative interpretations with rational alternatives, i.e. thoughts that are more in line with the facts of the situation. And lastly, we start reinvesting in activities that are incompatible with depression, e.g. pleasurable and meaningful activities.