Formulas That Can Lead to Depression



Brian M. Murray, MS, IMH

If you are feeling depressed there may be something you can do to relieve it. Feeling depressed can be due to an imbalance in the brain neurotransmitter called Serotonin of which medication from a medical doctor can help to stabilize. While antidepressants can help lift mood this is often not the sole culprit for depression. Studies show that the most effective way to relieve depression is through both mood stabilizers and talk therapy such as mental health counseling. Talk therapy helps bring a person to understanding and healing of why the depression is occurring in the first place with a goal of getting off of being dependent on mood stabilizing medications. There are times however when the body has a chronic problem with producing enough Serotonin to hold the lifted mood. In this case long term treatment with medications may be necessary under a medical doctor’s care.

When focusing on talk therapy there are three ways (formulas) that can help to relieve some of the depressive feelings. The first formula is about trying to change what cannot be changed. The Serenity Prayer is a brilliant piece of literature for addressing the worry that leads to depression. In this prayer part of it reads “to accept the things I cannot change.” Sometimes people can have the propensity to mull over things that they want changed and they hyper-analyze it to death. In the process of analyzing there is an absence of realizing that nothing ever happens and nothing ever changes. Over time it begins to weigh down the psyche, aka depressed. Sometimes we have to learn how to accept the things we cannot change, let it go, leave it in the past and move on.

Another formula leading to depression is unmet expectations. Unmet expectations fall into basically 3 common areas; expectations we have of ourselves, we have of others and those others have of us. Expectations are commonly grounded in childhood experiences when we learn how to handle life as it comes to us. However, when some needs become unmet they can turn into something else such as anger, anxiety and depression. One way to counter this is to begin to think or explore other alternatives to gratify the need.

The third formula is based on a cognitive distortion also known as unhelpful thinking habits. There are many of these patterns that can lead to mood problems, however there is one aptly named “compare and despair” which can be a real culprit when comparing our situation to others. What happens in a situation like this is people have a tendency to see the good in others, compare to what they have in themselves, and then come to the conclusion that they are not as good as others. If this goes on for too long and forms into a habitual way of thinking it can create a long term pattern of negative thinking. If everyone in the world around us is better than us, the underlying message often translates into something along the lines of “I don’t measure up” or “I am not good enough.” A helpful way of looking at a situation would be to strike a balanced way of self examination. If focused on just the negative, what are some positive things to help offset those things?

About the author- Brian M Murray is a devoted professional helping to empower people and overcoming difficult obstacles in life. He is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern located in Orlando and Winter Park Florida working as a counselor in a private practice setting at The LifeWorks Group.

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