It’s not difficult to see how feelings, thoughts, physical sensations and behaviours are all part of depression. As many of us are only too aware, being “down” can make it hard to do much of anything or to make choices that get us where we want to go. What’s harder to see is how any one part of this anatomy can trigger the downward spiral and then how each components feeds into and reinforces the others. By the process the state of mind that keeps us unhappy or leaves us vulnerable to depression gets stronger and stronger.
The feelings by which we generally define depression are usually thought of as an end point. We’re depressed; we feel sad, low,blue,miserable,despondent,desperate. But they’re also a starting point: The research has shown that the more we’ve been depressed in the past,the more sad mood will also bring with it feeling of low-esteem and self-blame. Not only do we feel sad, we may also feel like failures, useless, unlovable, losers. These feelings triggers powerful self-critical thoughts: we turn on ourselves, perhaps berating ourselves for the emotion we are experiencing: This is dumb, why can’t I just get over this and move on? And, of course,thinking this way just drags us down further.
If you feel crappy it’s because your brain is telling you that there’s a problem that’s unaddressed or unresolved. In other words, negative emotions are a call to action.
Our emotional reactions depend on the story we tell ourselves,the running commentary in the mind that interprets the we receive through our senses. If something happens when we’re in a good mood, the running commentary in our mind is likely to tell us that it was merely unintentionally. We might feel little or no emotional reaction.
If we are feeling a bit down that day anything happen and the self-talk say we’ve been ignored, we may feel angry and in some way we may feel guilt. Many situations are ambiguous, but the way we interpret them makes a huge difference in how we react. The fact that we often take these toxic and distorted thoughts about ourselves as unassailable truth only cements the connection between sad feelings and self-critical thought stream. Knowing this is vitally important to understanding why depression takes a hold in some people and not in others or on some occasions and not in others.
“Negative thoughts can trigger depression or feed it once a low mood is upon us. We might sink into a glum mood by thinking nothing ever goes right for me. That mood may then trigger self criticism like why am I such a loser? As we try to unravel the causes of unhappy state, our mood plunges. As we investigates questions about our worthlessness, we form a whole scheme of negative thoughts, ready to be recruited at a moment’s notice in the future.”
Automatic thoughts of depressed people
- I feel like I’m up against the world.
- I’m no good
- why can’t I ever succeed?
- No one understands me.
- I’ve let people down.
- I don’t think I can go on.
- I wish I were a better person.
- I’m so weak.
- My life goes the way I don’t want it to.
- I’m disappointed in myself.
- Nothing feels good any-more.
- I can’t stand this any-more.
- I can’t get started.
- what’s wrong with me?
- I wish I were somewhere else.
- I can’t get this together.
- I hate myself.
- I’m worthlessness.
- I wish I could just disappear.
- what’s the matter with me?
- I’m a loser.
- My life is a mess.
- I’m a failure.
- I’ll never make it.
- I feel so helpless.
- Something has to change.
- There must be something wrong with me.
- My future is bleak.
- it’s just not worth it.
- I can’t finish anything.
“Automatic Thoughts questionnaire” by Philip C. Kendall and Steven D. Hollon
*depression and the body
Depression affects the body, demonstrated by the symptoms of major depression disorder. It rapidly leads to dysregulation of our eating habits, sleep, and energy levels. We might not feel eating, which can eventually result in severe and unhealthy weight loss. Or might feel overeat, gaining inordinate amount of weight. Our sleep cycles can be disrupted in either direction too: either we feel low energy at most of time and sleep too much, or we find it difficult to get enough sleep. We may find ourselves waking in the middle of the night or early in the morning and being unable to get back to sleep. The bodily changes we experience in depression can have profound effects on how we feel and think about ourselves..
The research shows that 80% of those who suffer from depression consult their physician because of aches and pains in the body that they cannot explain. Much of this is linked to the tiredness and fatigue that come with depression. In general when we encounter something negative our body tend to tense up.
Once the body reacts in this way to negative thoughts and images, it feeds back to the mind the information that we are threatened or upset. Research has shown that the state of our bodies affects the state of our minds without our having awareness of it.
“It’s not just that patterns of negative thinking can affect our moods and our bodies. Feedback loops in other direction, from the body to the mind, also play a critical role in the persistent return and deepening of unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
*The close links between the body and emotion mean that our bodies function highly sensitive emotion detectors.
*depression and behaviour
When we feel downhearted or miserable. Perhaps, somewhere along the way, we picked up the that it was shameful or weak to show our emotions. We naturally assumed that people would think the worst of us if they knew we were depressed.
Depression makes us behave differently, and our behaviour can also feed depression. Depression certainly affects the choices we make regarding what to do and not do, and how to act. If we’re convinced we’re “no good”or unworthy, how likely are we make choices informed by depressive state of mind, they’re more than likely to keep us stuck in our happiness.
If we have been depressed before, a low mood can become easier and easier to trigger over time, because each time it returns, the thoughts, feeling, body sensation, and behaviours that accompany it form stronger and stronger connections to each other. Eventually, any of this element can trigger depression itself.
What can we do to prevent the normal and understandable emotion of unhappiness from persisting or spiralling down from depression?
Our first challenge will be to understand why it is that we feel so powerless to change how we are feeling and why. The moment we accommodate mindfulness, a simple yet powerful way of paying attention to your most difficult emotions and life experiences, can help you break the cycle of chronic unhappiness once and for all.
Author: Kwizera Rulinda GUEST BLOGGER INTRODUCTION
LINK BELOW PROVIDED BY THE AUTHOR
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