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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Been Depressed? What You Need to Know to Prevent Relapse

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Jan 5th 2012

 

depressedA shocking fact that most people who have experienced depression in the past have to contend with is that if you've experienced depression in the past, you are susceptible to experiencing it again. Here’s what you need to know and how you can stave it off.

What you need to know:

There’s a cycle to depression. Depression is experienced as a combination of thoughts in the mind, emotions, and physical sensations. The thoughts may be self judgments like I am worthless or hopeless, the emotions may be sadness, guilt, and shame, and the sensations may be tiredness and tension. During a time of depression these all get tied in together, when one gets ignited the others do too. 

For example, if you felt extra tired one day, this might spark off memories of when you were depressed. The thought may arise, "Oh no, maybe I'm getting depressed again". Your mind may flow with a snowball of memories and associated thoughts from the time you were depressed and how difficult it was along with emotions of sadness and shame.  At this point, your body is either feeling tense or even more tired and you don't feel like being around anyone, so you isolate which is a behavior that can deepen depression.  In the end, you're on the road to a self fulfilling prophecy of depression and anxiety. 

What you need to do:

The first step to intervention here is being aware of this cycle and noticing when it is occurring. If you catch your mind caught in self-judgments, see if you can get some space from it by noticing those judgments as part of an old conditioned cycle. If you catch this cycle occurring, you may already be a bit affected by it as it can be scary to have thoughts and feelings of heading into depression.  

Here’s a 4 step formula that can help:

 

  1. Notice the cycle occurring, naming it is the first step.

  2. Acknowledge that it scared you if it did. Opening yourself up to uncomfortable emotions can have a healing effect as it helps you cultivate compassion for yourself. 

  3. What are other reasons you might be feeling tired? You may also ask yourself, what may be some other reasons I feel tired? Think of a pie chart and see if you can fill in the other pieces of pie. You might have gotten a bad night's sleep or maybe were more active the day before, or maybe there are some extra stressors in your life. 

  4. Try and treat yourself with an extra bit of kindness that day. You may also remember the things that helped you get out of depression the last time and try and make sure you are integrating those practices into your life as well.  

 

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 

 

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    Enjoy your crappy day - Sharryn - Jan 5th 2012

    We spend so much time having high expectations and fearing depression we forget having a bad day once in a while is ok, delve into your bad day and cry, be sad, but don't beat yourself up, don't let the guilt rule you, aspire to get up the next day shake yourself off like a duck or puppy and head on out to embrace the new day. 

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