How To Cope With Depression (Part One)

How To Cope With Depression (Part One)

by Dr Emma Gray - 27th May, 2014

How to Cope with Depression

Depression results from a combination of negative and/or self critical thoughts and self defeating or self destructive behaviours. Successfully resolving depression therefore involves resolving at least one of these issues. Often the first step in a person’s battle to overcome depression is to address the self defeating behaviours that are fuelling their low mood. This article will therefore focus on identifying and eradicating the self defeating and destructive behaviours associated with depression.

When a person becomes depressed they usually stop engaging in behaviours that provide them with a sense of either achievement and/or pleasure. Sometimes, without realising it, they will gradually start to avoid and withdraw from all activities which they previously enjoyed and which gave them a sense of fulfilment or self worth.
A reasonably simple first step towards tackling depression is therefore to re engage with tasks and experience that not only allow you to achieve small and measurable goals (i.e. tasks or activities where a positive outcome can be readily identified) but those that you have enjoyed in the past. The steps below have been specifically designed by a Clinical Psychologist and expert in treating depression to help individuals to tackle depression by adjusting their day to day behaviours and activity.

1. Write a list of tasks and activities that you have previously enjoyed but have not engaged in since becoming depressed.

2. Rank these activities in order or how challenging it would feel to restart these using a scale of 1-10.

3. Write a list of tasks and activities that have given you a sense of achievement in the past before you became depressed or that need to be done (e.g. household chores).

4. Ranks these tasks in order of how challenging it would feel to do these using a scale of 1-10.

5. Identify a time each day when it may be the easiest to initiate action and get something done. This may be a time when your mood is less bad or when you have some support from a friend or family member.

6. Starting from the bottom of each scale (i.e. the least challenging end) schedule in a task from each list on alternating days.

7. After a week of successfully completing 1 item from 1 of your lists per day, increase this to 2 and so on until you are filling your days with activities that give you a sense of pleasure and achievement.

Note: initially tasks from the lists may not lead to a sense of achievement or pleasure or a change in mood. However, if the steps above are followed closely over the course of a month, in most cases a change will be noted.

This is only 1 part of a 2 part approach to tackling depression, however for milder cases evidence suggests that it can be very effective in elevating low mood. For moderate to severe cases it provides an important first step and foundation for further work and possibly professional help, for example Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

If you are considering professional help for depression The British CBT & Counselling Service offers a range of counselling service including, therapy in Richmond (Surrey), therapy in Clapham North (London), therapy in Clapham South (London), therapy in Fulham (London), therapy in Marylebone (London), therapy in Islington (London), therapy in Canary Wharf (London), therapy in West Bridgford (Nottingham) and therapy in Stamford (Lincolnshire).

Clinical Psychologists and Counselling Psychologist specialising in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and with a wealth of experience in treating depression are offering appointments in our clinics across the country .


Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleague once described me as natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.


Read more about my approach to counselling here...


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