Yes, You Can “Spring Out” Out of Depression (And Two Common Factors That Prevent It)
Despite popular belief, “springing out” of depression is possible and may not require a lengthy course of treatment including medications and years of psychoanalysis—you can actually start to change how you think (and feel) in this very moment. Depression may no even be a mental illness, but instead a state of mind.
As humans, we have the gift of executive functioning in our evolved brain, which is a function of the frontal cortex, the newest evolved portion of our brain. Executive functioning, among many other things, gives us the capacity to think in abstract terms: for example, thinking about the future without the need for the future events to even have happened yet; or being able to attach more importance to events, or lessen their importance, per our own judgment. These are among the super sophisticated abilities of our frontal cortex. Unfortunately, our sophisticated brains can also engage in negative thought patterns, which are the creations of our own imagination.
The trouble arises when those thought patterns are twisted, or mistaken. With negative thoughts, we can create such strong, painful, and debilitating emotional experiences, which we call clinical depression. However, we can indeed “spring out” of those painful moments by closely examining our thoughts and using our judgment in ways that work to our advantage, as opposed toward our demise.
Here are two common factors that prevent people from moving quickly out of depression:
2 Reasons why people can’t change out of depression:
Diagnoses: It’s commonly the case that patients say something like: “I was diagnosed with Depression by my doctor.” And their outlook from then on is that this diagnosis has a sense of permanency to it.
It is as if they are saying “I was diagnosed with depression, and so now I have depression.” Clinical evidence has shown, however, that clinical depression is not a permanent mental illness.
In fact, the more evidence-based practices such as TEAM-CBT (founded by Dr. David Burns, M.D. Professor Emeritus at Stanford) shows that patterns of negative thoughts such as “Discounting the Positive”, or “Taking Blame for Everything,” are the causes of depression—in fact, sometimes even deep depression.
The moment, though, in which the patient notices how distorted their view is, they begin to see the light and suddenly their depression vanishes, right there on the spot!
Medical Model: Despite overwhelming evidence that shows patients who use medications to treat their depression continue to experience depression years after being on their meds, there is still a common belief that their brain either lacks or over-produces certain neurotransmitters—a condition that should be treated by medications that theoretically corrects the imbalance.
However, clinical evidence shows that the only time symptoms of clinical depression can successfully be subsided is when the patient recognizes the negative thoughts and assumptions they had, which caused them to feel quite depressed and hopeless in the first place.
So, in light of starting a new day or a new beginning this spring, I encourage people to ask themselves what thoughts or assumptions they are holding onto during those moments they are feeling depressed.
I know some people might say they are not aware of any particular thoughts during those difficult moments, and that they only know how badly they feel. In response, I would say, just take out a pen and paper, and jot down the emotions you are experiencing during those upsetting moments. Then ask yourself:
Why Am I Feeling That Way?
And whatever answers you come up with are the exact thoughts and assumptions that are running through your mind.
Next, take this one step further and ask yourself, would I talk that critically or negatively to a beloved friend? And you might notice you are engaged in distorted, negative thoughts that you wouldn’t ever think about someone else who you were judging or criticizing. You can then come to understand that your mind had fallen for those negative assumptions about yourself, and had accepted them unquestionably.
As you begin to practice shining some light onto your thought patterns, you’ll start notice the errors in your assumption, correct the errored ways of thinking, and instantaneously notice your depression lifting.