As a cognitive behavioral psychologist, I view most depressions as the result of negative or maladaptive thinking. However, whenever someone is referred for depression, I always take a full history and do a comprehensive evaluation to determine the type of depression and how serious the depression is.
Depression is characterized by a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. In extreme forms, the individual may have serious thoughts or plans to commit suicide. If this is the case then coordinating treatment with a psychiatrist for medication and/ or hospitalization is the first order of business to stabilize the person so that they are still around to benefit from psychological treatment.
Most depressions are based on the perception of a serious loss such the death of a child, spouse, parent, etc. If the loss is very recent, such as a few weeks or even months, it is normal and healthy to grieve. If the level of depression is severe and extended than a psychologist can be of significant help in coping with the loss. Other types of losses can include situations like getting divorced (when you didn’t want to) or losing a job you really enjoyed and/ or needed.
Another type of depression is characterized by negative or irrational beliefs the individual holds about themselves, others or the world in general. For example, if someone believes he or she or others must be perfect, they will invariably be repeatedly disappointed. Unrelenting standards and being overly critical is a well-known recipe for depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy is quite effective in teasing out negative, self defeating beliefs and helping individuals develop healthier attitudes and ways of thinking.
As a psychologist and writer, I have published two brief guidebooks that provide tips, strategies and recommendations for depression. One is written for the general public, both for clients and for those wanting to better understand depression and what to do about it. The other book on depression is written specifically for those who serve in the military and their families. Many other psychologists and other therapists have used these along with my other self-help guides in their work with clients. They are available on the self-help section of my website, www.cognitivetherapy.cc.
Depression is like quick sand, if you do nothing, you are likely to sink deeper. With the right helping hand you can pull yourself up and recover to lead a happier and more satisfying life regardless of your circumstances.