As I continue to suffer and weep in the cold hands of a relentless depression, I have took it upon myself to read a self-help book on cognitive psychology. The book, Feeling Good by David Burns is an excessively long look at the causes and solutions for depression. Although I have completed only about 300 pages of the roughly 700 pages, I can confidently summarize the book here for you.
From the standpoint of cognitive psychology, emotion and behavior derive from thought. Thus, the cause and solution for depression is thought. Sounds simple. It really is.
See, the problem is that depressed individuals don’t think straight. For example, they think:
1. No one loves me
2. Nothing is going to get better
3. I am totally useless
4. Even that stranger on the street dislikes me
Looking at these examples, let’s see what’s wrong:
1. That’s an exaggeration. Someone must love you
2. That’s an exaggeration and you can’t predict the future. Something will probably get better.
3. That’s an overgeneralization. You have at least some use
4. Unless you can read minds, you don’t know that. And it’s most probable that that stranger didn’t even have an opinion of you.
Make sense? The solution to this distorted thinking is to write down any negative thought and write out how it’s distorted. If you’re simply feeling negatively, then think why you’re feeling that way. According to cognitive psychology, you’re feeling bad because of a thought. So once you realize what that thought is, you can analyze the cognitive distortions.
Keep writing all this analysis out until your mind naturally filters out the bad thoughts and sets you back on the right track. Time-consuming? Perhaps. Tiring? Yeah. But what excuse do you have not to try? Wait! That excuse is a cognitive distortion. You have no excuse!
As for my experiences with this, I’m sure you want me to say I’m cured. Psh, I’d like to say that too. It’s only been a few days, though. Still I feel so weighed down by my emotions that I can barely speak to my own friends, let alone think of something to say to them. Even so, I don’t have any other options. It’s cognitive correction or nothing at all.