If you want to excel in this area, you ought to print out this list from Bill O’Hanlon.
How to do a good depression:
- Stay still, don’t do anything that makes you breathe fast or hard
- Stay in bed if you can; if not, sit in the same chair or lay on the couch
- Isolate; avoid other people
- If you can’t avoid other people, try to talk to the same person or few people
- Talk to hem about the same topic, usually how depressed/unhappy you/they are
- Sleep during the day and have insomnia at night
- Brood on the past, fears, faults and resentments
- Imagine the future will be the same or worse than the past or present
- Eat terribly; overeat or under eat (whichever one you specialize in), eat junk foods, sugar, fat
- Don’t pursue hobbies, passions or spiritual interests
- Drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and/or use other drugs
- Don’t ask for help
Behavioral Activation is an important part of treatment for depression. Why? Because depression makes you want to do things that make you more depressed. Think about it. If you feel depressed and don’t feel like getting out of bed all day and you go with that, your day spent in bed leaves you feeling depressed AND worthless. If you feel depressed and then eat an entire cheesecake, then you are depressed AND loathe yourself—not to mention what you’ve done to blood sugar levels! Central to treatment for depression is making a plan to GET MOVING and develop a system of accountability that helps the client avoid depressed behaviors. Some research shows that 45-60 minutes of vigorous exercise daily can be as effective as taking an anti-depressant!
Russ Harris, in The Confidence Gap, says this about motivation, “Unfortunately, if we equate motivation with a feeling we will soon get stuck. Why? Because it pulls us back into the trap of trying to get the right feelings before we take action.”—P.212 Consider the staying in bed example. I don’t know about you, but my cozy bed is the worst place for me to muster the motivation to get up. It’s a nice bed!
I don’t say any of this lightly. If you’ve suffered with depression, then you know how hard doing this can be. Maybe today is the day that some of you reading this blog will ask for help. If that happens, I will be very glad. Far too many people live with untreated depression too long. It’s time to take renounce the shame around getting help and acknowledge the courage it takes to face depression squarely.
This list comes from a Bill O’Hanlon lecture. He is a psychotherapist, speaker, author and an expert on the treatment of depression.