RECOGNIZING DEPRESSION: SOME THOUGHTS ON THINKING

Depression may be considered a state of emotional distress that manifests itself in a variety of self-defeating language and behavior. Frequently, it relates to someone's "belief system".
<?xml:namespace prefix = o /> We do not operate directly on the world but experience incoming data through our senses--primarily, vision, sound and feeling. From this data, we form a model or "understanding" of the world through the processes of generalization, deletion and distortion; and our language, "internal" and "external", is the most complete representation of that model. That is, the best way we have of expressing them. The generalizations, deletions and distortions that form the model of a depressed person’s world are highly negative.
 While we learn to function in the world by generalizing (i.e., turning one door knob, then recognizing other variations of it; reading different books, driving several cars, etc.), we limit ourselves when we fail at something once and decide we are "no good" at it; or when we are the victim of one indiscretion by a particular person and decide he or she is "insensitive."
 At times, it is useful to selectively pay attention to certain aspects of our experience, and ignore others. This is the process of deletion. So, for example, you might be able to fall asleep with the t.v. on, or drive while someone is talking, or speed-read; or play tennis in the presence of an audience. However, when one acts depressed, he may "delete" his impact on other people, and simply conclude, "I am unloved", "I am unworthy", or "I am stupid."
When modeling, it often becomes necessary to distort our experiences. This is a process of making shifts in the way our senses receive information. Without this process, we could not plan for the future, write fiction, paint or invent. Distortion becomes detrimental to one who dissociates an event from his ongoing experience in a categorical fashion. For example, after divorcing his wife, one might conclude, "I am no good at relationships." In creating generalizations, deletions and distortions that lead to depression, an individual is creating internal experiences-pictures, sounds and feelings-- that continually get "replayed."
 Every time you want to feel bad, you only need to stack those negative pictures and negative "self-talk" and the bad feeling (depression) will emerge. Depression actually requires adequate planning! Whether or not you fully realize it, you need to create the experiences related to depression in order to have those feelings. Consider some of these experiences: "I'm such a lousy salesman. I cost the company money through my mistakes, and the boss just keeps me on because he feels sorry for me."
 "My wife left me because I'm no good. I'll never be able to have a relationship "No one ever agrees with my point of view. I guess they just don't like me."
 "My children misbehave. I'm just not a good role model or mother."
 "I almost never have a date, I'm so unpopular."
 Hear the negative modeling? This becomes translated into emotional distress and inactivity. One might appear frequently sad, dejected, apathetic and lethargic; cry for no apparent reason, make critical self-statements, and withdraw from others, feeling "alone" in the world. When feeling depressed, it might help to:


  • (1) Begin to recognize your "negative" experiences and replace them with more positive internal pictures, sounds and feelings.
  • (2) In order to accomplish this, consider actively challenging your model of the world. In the cited examples above, one could ask, "How specifically do you know your boss "feels sorry" for you?" "How did you relate to your wife? Do you relate to everyone in this manner?" "Do you ever disagree with those whom you like?" "You are a poor Mother, according to whom?" "What, specifically, could you do to date more often?"

 Alternative experiences lead to new ways of modeling the world. Try re-thinking your thoughts in more positive ways. You may begin to believe that you are living someone else's life from inside your body, since you couldn't possibly feel this good...or can you?