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Treating Depression: What to Do When You Can’t Look on the Bright Side

Treating Depression: What to Do When You Can’t Look on the Bright Side Image
Susan Vachon

Medically reviewed by Susan Vachon, PA-C on February 25, 2022

Written by Nurx
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Just cheer up. Have you tried being happier? You have a great life; you shouldn’t be depressed. If you’re a person suffering from depression, you’re probably tired of hearing all of these things. If treating your symptoms was as easy as simply wishing them away, no one would struggle with depression.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. For most people, they’ll require depression treatment before they can see a reduction of their symptoms. That could mean anything from depression medications to therapy to lifestyle modifications.

In particular, when you’re specifically struggling with seeing the positives in life, there may be a few evidence-based practices you can try. Keep in mind, these won’t work for everyone. If you are still having trouble seeing the good parts of life, you and your doctor can work together to find another type of treatment for you.

First Stop: See a Doctor

Because depression is a serious mental health condition, you shouldn’t try to treat it yourself. You should always see a medical professional to make sure you get the treatments that would work best for you. While there are some things you can try on your own, like eating healthier and working out more, only a doctor can prescribe medication, which in combination with therapy can be a more effective treatment.

At your initial visit, your doctor will discuss your symptoms with you. They’ll want to know how long you’ve been feeling this way and how bad it gets. They’ll also ask for details about your medical history. This can help them discern if there might be an underlying medical cause for your depression. It can also guide their prescription of treatments.

Once your doctor understands your specific situation, they’ll make a few suggestions on how you can start feeling better. Together, you can work through your struggles and find a combination of treatments that get you see the positives in life again.

How CBT Might Help You See Things in a Different Light

One thing your doctor might recommend is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of psychotherapy that’s meant to help you change your patterns of thought. Typically, people with depression are stuck in a negative thought rut.

You know how some people see the world through rose-colored glasses, thinking everything is positive? Depression is a bit like looking at the world through black-colored glasses, where you only see the negative parts of everything.

With CBT, you’ll work to change that. No — you won’t be taught to rose-color your vision, as that isn’t realistic or practical. Rather, you’ll just learn to see things for what they actually are — not what you’re perceiving them to be.

CBT is effective because it can actually rewire your brain by modifying your brain’s neural circuits, which can help create more positive though patterns. If you have depression, you’ve probably been thinking negatively so long that these neural pathways are extremely developed. CBT creates new, more positive pathways to help you better regulate negative emotions.

In a typical CBT session, you’ll learn how to face your fears instead of avoiding them, as well as how to calm yourself in stressful situations.

Try Distancing Yourself From People Pushing You to Be Happy

This idea may seem a bit odd at first. However, research shows that when people value happiness too much, it can be self-defeating. One study took a look at how valuing happiness affected people’s well-being and noted that when expectations for happiness were high, people were more disappointed in themselves for not being happy.

In other words, people who valued happiness more were less satisfied with their lives. They had more depressive symptoms and lower psychological well-being.

Certainly, this doesn’t mean you should remove every happy and positive influence from your life. But if you’re surrounded by acquaintances who are only making you feel like you aren’t happy enough in life, this can be detrimental to your recovery.

Instead, try to surround yourself with people who are supportive yet realistic. Your loved ones should be there to help you, but not try to force you to feel happy when you’re not.

Consider Keeping a Gratitude Journal to Record Your Daily High Notes

Even if you don’t notice them in the moment, you likely have at least a few positive things happen to you each day. In most cases, this won’t be as dramatic as winning the lottery or finding out you’re the heir to a kingdom. It might be something as simple as you finding a quarter on the ground or having a good hair day.

Whatever the case, it’s important to take note of these things and be thankful for them. Jot them down five or so in a journal and explain why each occurrence was a positive.

Keeping this kind of journal likely won’t be easy at first. You’ll probably struggle to come up with anything, especially if you’re going through a real low point. However, this is one way to help yourself start to identify positive aspects of your life. Over time, you may begin to see more and more high points, and hopefully those high points will eventually out number the low points.

Know That Things Can Get Better

While there is no quick fix, there is hope when it comes to treating your depression. If you’re willing to enlist the help of a medical professional and implement certain lifestyle changes, you can eventually start feeling like yourself again.

 

 


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