Depression is a tricky one, mainly because of the stigma attached to it. We’re much more comfortable as a society admitting that we caught a cold or broke a leg to explain an absence. But calling into work because we feel deep seated guilt, shame, and self-loathing? Forget about it. It’s time we know how to cure depression.
Here’s the thing, man. After reading Dr. David Burns’ masterpiece, Feeling Good the New Mood Therapy, I’m convinced depression is much more prevalent than we may think.
I find no coincidence (after I wrote the above paragraph) that I log into my Twitter account and find this tweet at the top of my feed:
— MentalHealthAmerica (@MentalHealthAm) October 27, 2017
Just a quick show of hands, but do you ever find yourself:
- Feeling bad about yourself after you fail a project or task?
- Catch yourself being worse off after receiving criticism?
- Feeling responsible for other people’s suffering?
- Labeling yourself and others with black and white titles like “loser, bad, unworthy, evil, etc.”?
- Focusing on all the things you aren’t as opposed to focusing on your strengths?
- Allowing your emotions to operate as fact and exclusively guiding your actions?
- Feeling certain that past results absolutely equal future results?
- Blinded by road rage?
- Letting the bad news in your personal life (or media) sour the rest of your day?
- Waking up feeling dread?
- Giving into guilt trips, especially when it comes to friends and family?
Well, I answered “all of the above”, how’d you do?
The missing link on how to cure depression alone
I think I found the best supplement to a healthy life, and the best part is it helps us to master our moods and cure depression by ourselves.
It’s called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and it’s a mightily powerful tool we can use to cure depression, loneliness, guilt, shame, anger issues, and self-loathing.
I have a good feeling most of us know about the benefits of exercise, healthy eating, and sleep on our moods. But it blows my mind how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is not a household term. It’s so easy to understand and just as easy to implement.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Here’s how Dr. David Burns sees it in Feeling Good the New Mood Therapy:
“The first principle of cognitive therapy is that all your moods are created by your “cognitions,” or thoughts.”
“The second principle is that when you are feeling depressed, your thoughts are dominated by a pervasive negativity.”
“The third principle is of substantial philosophical and therapeutic importance. Our research has documented that the negative thoughts which cause your emotional turmoil nearly always contain gross distortions…twisted thinking is a major cause of your suffering.”
The photo below may seem overly simple, but that’s what’s so appealing about CBT to me. The concept is so easy to understand.
Photo taken from Feeling Good the New Mood Therapy, p. 30.
Essentially, you’ll have a thought about whatever is happening, and that thought is going to create an emotional state. The twisted part is that if your thought is distorted, it’s going to create a related, distorted emotional state. This (distorted) emotional state then reconfirms the original thought that created it, and that’s where depression does all its damage.
Faulty thoughts creating faulty emotions. Faulty emotions reconfirming faulty thoughts.
To heal the emotional state, we’ve got to revisit the thought we created and recondition it to a more realistic, supportive state.
How to use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to cure depression
If you can afford a therapist, I recommend searching your city for therapist trained specifically in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Another option, if you’re more of a self-starter and prefer to do the work yourself, is to buy a copy of Feeling Good the New Mood Therapy. If the book costed $100, it would still be a bargain. I practically felt like I was stealing it for what you can get it for.
I was very refreshed to find how easy the book reads. It’s almost like a friend is talking to you. It’s very easy to understand and implement, and I can’t recommend it highly enough as a consistent aid to cure depression.
I went out and bought a $2 college ruled journal specifically for doing the exercises in the book. Any time I notice my mood shift to a more subdued state, I instantly start asking myself: “What negative belief do I have about myself right now?” Dr. Burns does an amazing job of taking it from there and leaving you with a more realistic, supportive view of yourself and the world around you.
Either way, you’ll begin identifying faulty thinking habits you have about yourself and the world around you and recondition them through simple journaling and diagramming exercises. If you have a therapist or friend that can help, there are conversations you can craft from the book to recondition how you respond to things in real time.
Other tools that may help to cure depression
I gotta admit, I love some greasy food from time to time. But as a habit, I’ve found healthy eating as a necessary tool that creates noticeable effects on my mood. To help you get started with keeping some healthy food around the house, check out my post: Healthy Grocery List: Why it’s Worth It and How To Put It All together.
Cod Liver Oil
I was really skeptical of how cod liver oil would taste, but it’s really easy to get down! I don’t know how they do it, but it just tastes like lemon oil to me. Just pour a TSP onto a spoon and swallow after a meal. It’s really easy to integrate into your routine.
To this day, I haven’t found a better supplement in terms of overall value of nutrients for the cost and ease of consumption. Not only are the high amounts of Omega 3’s super healthy for your brain and cognitive ability, but you also get an outstanding value of immune boosting Vitamin A, D, and E in each serving. It also helps promote heart, vision, and joint health. An overall outstanding health tonic I highly recommend and take daily!
If you’re looking for an alternative that you don’t have to refrigerate, I recommend Barlean’s Organic Oils Fresh Catch Fish Oil. I found it to be easy on the stomach and cost effective for the quality. The drawback is it won’t provide the additional, necessary fat-soluble vitamins that Carlson Cod Liver Oil offers, but again, it does have the luxury of not needing refrigeration if that’s a concern.
Vitamin B Complex
The closer to nature the better for me, and that’s why I’m a fan of Garden of Life products. They craft their vitamins from whole foods and toss in a probiotic and enzyme blend which helps your body assimilate nutrients more efficiently.
I’ve tried a few different B-complex supplements and found this one to be the most gentle on the stomach. The B vitamins help in proper function of our nervous system and help cognitive function. A supplement including all the B vitamins can be a great addition to helping us feel more balanced with our moods.
There’s times I notice a slight buzz after taking these, and I’m going to guess it’s when I’m deficient. I like to take them just to be sure I’m covering the bases with such a necessary group of vitamins.
As a Man Thinketh
Man, I love this book. It’s simple, short, timeless, and powerful! CBT shows us how our thoughts can cure depression, and this book helps build our understanding of the power of thought.
The benefit of buying this book is you get a unique code to take an online test which shows your Emotional Intelligence score. This lets you focus in on specific strategies in the book that are tailored for you specifically.
There is a direct correlation between our Emotional Intelligence and how much we get paid as well as the strength of our relationships with ourselves and others.
The book reads very easily with simple and effective strategies to begin using right away. This book is yet another rich tool we can have to strengthen our connection with the whirlwind of emotions that storm in our head.
Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life
It’s written by a Navy Seal, but it’s not a “Rah-Rah” kind of book, and that’s a good thing. If you can be honest with yourself while reading this one, you’ll reap some crazy, powerful realizations. This is Jedi level wisdom. I’m on my 2nd time through reading it, and I can already tell there’s many more levels to uncover. If you’re in a rut, this book has some real life love to give.
A heart-warming companion written from the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism. Accepting things as they are and spending more time in the moment can have a profound healing effect to cure depression and rid anxiety. It’s easy to read, but there is a lot to contemplate.
For some reason, it doesn’t seem society educates the necessity of consistently tending to our emotional health. It may be common knowledge to understand our muscles atrophy if we stop exercising, but it’s a less known fact that our self-esteem can diminish if we don’t exercise our emotional health.
One thing I’d really like to see going forward as a society is the integration of emotional maintenance habits into our daily routines (and ideally our school curriculums). Let’s practice emotional health, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with the same level of consistency, commitment, and normality as brushing our teeth.
I’d like to turn it over to Dr. Burns one last time in support of this amazing tool we have in CBT:
…”bad things do happen, and life beats up on most of us at times…you can learn to change the way you think about things, and you can also change your basic values and beliefs. And when you do, you will often experience profound and lasting changes in your mood, outlook, and productivity. That, in a nutshell, is what cognitive therapy is all about.”
Please share this post if you or someone you know is struggling with depression.