4 Tips To Cope With Depression

4 Tips To Cope With Depression

by Dr Emma Gray - 18th May, 2018

It is estimated by the World Health Organisation that if current trends continue, by 2020 Depression will be the second most disabling condition in the world, after heart disease. There are however some very effective strategies that can help you to cope with Depression, in this blog I am going to share 4 of the best.

1. Activity Scheduling

Research has shown that regularly engaging in activities that give us a sense of pleasure and achievement significantly improve our mood. When we feel depressed our natural inclination is to hide away which makes ‘doing’ things hard. So, make a list of the things that you used to enjoy and that made you feel as if you were achieving something, rank them in order of how much of your effort/time they require and then slowly work through them starting with those that need the least amount of effort/time. Try to do one activity, however small, each day. If you do this consistently over a couple of weeks you will start to notice your mood improving.

2. Identify Thinking Filters

When we feel depressed it is usually a direct result of the way that we are thinking about things and our thinking at these times often involves what psychologists call ‘thinking filters’. Thinking filters are patterns of thinking that filter out the information that could make us feel better and highlight/exaggerate the information that is likely to make us feel depressed. Here are some examples of common thinking errors:

All or nothing – thinking
You see things in black and white categories, if a situation falls short of perfect, you see it as a total failure.

Overgeneralisation
You see a single negative event, such as a romantic rejection or a career reversal as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using words such as ‘always’ or “never” when you think about it.

Mental filter
You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively, so that your vision of all of reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolours a beaker of water.

Discounting the positive
You reject positive experiences by insisting they ‘don’t count.’

Mind reading
Without checking it out, you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you.

Fortune telling
You predict that things will turn out badly.

Magnification
You exaggerate the importance of your problems and shortcomings, or you minimize the importance of your desirable qualities.

Emotional reasoning
You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are.

Personalisation
Personalisation occurs when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn’t entirely under your control.

Identify the thinking filters that you use most regularly and try and reintroduce the information that is being filtered out, over time you will notice that this leads to an improvement in your mood.

3. Identify your Self-Critical Voice

Depression is often a direct result of a self-critical internal voice. This is a pattern of thinking that involves one or more of the following:

  • Hyper and unrelenting criticism of everything that you do
  • Negative comparisons with other people
  • Predictions that you will be disliked and rejected by others
  • Predictions that you will fail at any task that you attempt
  • Labelling you as inadequate, useless, defective in some way

Identify your self-critical voice, write it down and try and assess how accurate it is by looking at the evidence that supports it and then the evidence against it. Then try and construct an alternative thought that takes into account all of the evidence that you have uncovered. Write these more accurate alternative thoughts down and regularly review them. Over time this will lead to a gradual improvement in your depression.

4. Keep a Positive Log

As an antidote to your Self-Critical Voice keep a daily Positive Log to highlight to yourself all of the things that you have achieved, however small. This will draw your attention away from your perceived inadequacies and towards your strengths, which in turn will lead to an improvement in your self esteem and confidence and as a result your depression too.


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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