Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

The depressive spiral

This was mentioned earlier in the section “Working with depression”. One of the ways that we stay in a depression is because we have continuous negative thoughts that keep us from feeling better. They have the effect of keeping us in the depressive spiral. These thoughts are semi-automatic: they seem to just happen.

However, they can also be challenged: they have to be challenged, otherwise we will not get out of the depressive spiral and we will just carry on down. Since they are yourthoughts, you have to challenge them. But they are also notyour thoughts, they are “the depression speaking”. So, try to distance yourself from these thoughts. Challenge them. What is the evidence for this? Are there any other possible views? What would you have thought about this in the past, before you were depressed? What would someone else say—someone who you trust and who is not depressed? What would you say to someone else, if they said that to you? These types of challenges will help you to break the depressive spiral. Please also remember that it is not just our thinking that keeps us fixed into our mood.

Our behaviour patterns reinforce our thinking, and our thinking is reinforced by our behaviour. Just changing our thinking is often not enough; we have to make a physical change in our behaviour as well. Often our feelings will affect our thoughts, and these have an effect on our behaviour. You can envisage a triangular relationship between thoughts, feelings (mood), and behaviour. Each affects the other.

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