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Depression becomes increasingly immobilizing as it deepens.  Energy often declines and people increasingly don't feel like doing anything.  It is imperative to fight this feeling of "Do Nothingness" as much as possible.  Make an effort to get up, bathed, dressed, and out of your home most days.  Try shifting your focus away from your miseries and towards others.  Increase your activity level with things that you normally enjoy and/or find meaningful, even if only for a few minutes at a time.  Check out and follow Weekly Depression Busters Checklist.

Rather than to continue to focus on what you feel that you cannot do, shift your focus to what you CAN do and then DO it.  A more formalized method of doing this is called Activity Scheduling.  Research demonstrates that getting people to do this is a very effective method of combating depression.  For specifics, click on the first link, below. 

Many might be surprised that there are decades of research that show exercise to be a great anti-depressant.  As a matter of fact, some studies indicate they work better than medications! Studies generally utilize 20 to 60 minute sessions at least three times a week.  Sleep quality and insomnia often improve with exercise.  If you have concerns about depression, consult with your physician and begin a mild to moderate exercise, such as walking, today.  The self-help group Recovery, International (formerly Recovery Inc.) has taught for over 70 years that when depressed, to "move your muscles.

Individual counseling/psychotherapy is also very effective.  Two brief therapy techniques that have been rigorously studied and compared to anti-depressant medications for people with moderate to severe depression are Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT). 

CBT entails becoming more aware of your thoughts, make sure that they reflect reality and are generally working for you.  Depressed people often have at least moments where they think that they can't do ANYTHING right.  This is almost always a strong feeling that goes unchallenged and is never true.  Realizing and remembering that "Feelings Are Not Facts" is in itself a powerful intervention.  Check other cognitive distortions  that may be causing you difficulties.  I strongly suggest that any depressed adult or older teen read Feeling Good by David Burns.

IPT is a psychodynamic approach that focuses on relationships.  It helps identify the main difficulties the person is having and helping them deal with loss, understand how differences in relationship expectations are causing problems, and sometimes to teaching communication and social skills to overcome interpersonal deficits.

All of the techniques referenced have proven to be as effective (and sometimes more) as anti-depressant medication.  Nothing here should be misinterpreted as anti-medications.  Sometimes, a combination of the two is the best approach. This is especially true with increased severity and chronicity of the depression.
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Activity Scheduling



Adult children of depressed parents

NIMH Depression Information

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