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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
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Feeling Depressed and The Importance of Voting

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Sep 14th 2012

Feeling Depressed and The Importance of VotingOne of the major ways of thinking that underlies feelings of depression is the belief that we are helpless and, therefore hopeless. Helplessness is the conviction that there is no way for a person to change the  circumstances of their life. If you feel depressed or have spoken to someone who feels very sad and down then you know how hard it is to believe that you have any ability to influence what is happening around you. Then, you throw your arms up and say, "what's the use." Often, this is not true. In my work with people in the throws of depression it has been possible to find creative ways to take action and resolve problems that seemed to have no solution. Much of this negative thinking pervades politics and individual citizens.

Democracy is defined as a form of government in which the people hold the supreme power. Consequently, people are expected to participate in the workings of a democratic form of government like we have in the United States. On every level of government from the town council meetings to the meetings in the United States Senate and House of Representatives in Washington D.C., people have the right to participate and vote on issues, especially at the local council meetings. With regard to the Federal Government we can contact our representatives and senators about issues important to us.

In November, American citizens have the right to vote for the next president of the United States. The election is important because the results determine how the country will function for the next four years. How it will function is based on the vision that each candidate and his political party has with regard to the economy, taxes, education and dozens of other important issues that affect everyday life.

Yet, I often hear people say that, "my vote doesn't count. How could one vote make any difference. Many of the people who think this way opt to not take part in the election. In other words, this is the description of depressive ways of thinking. As in most examples of depressive thinking there is little truth to the dismal conclusions. There are even psychologists who believe that the vote of one person is statistically insignificant. Therefore, they do not understand why people vote unless its due them deluding themselves that a vote counts.

In actuality, voting is an affirmative action. To affirm is to state something in terms that are positive. In that way, it's the opposite of depression which is extremely negative. Voting has to do with a group process. In other words, there is a group of other people with like-minded beliefs and attitudes. That group votes for the same candidate and their vote counts from a collective point of view. It's not that my vote counts, its that all the people who vote like me make a combined difference.

The main point here is that it's important to vote. It beats feeling helpless and hopeless. It's an affirmative or positive action to take. It helps knowing that we are part of something bigger: all those who think the way I think. It's also a way to express yourself.

Vote: It makes a big difference.

Your comments and opinions are encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

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