Thursday, March 11, 2010

Therapy for Depression (Part 2)

"But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, 'It is enough: now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers' " (1 Kings 19:4)

Dr. Aaron Beck, a noted psychiatrist who worked with numerous depressed patients, believed that a primary cause of depression is the "habit of thinking incorrectly." It's a concept that has become one of the most important current theories of depression.

We can call Dr. Beck's concept with different labels or names. Plato referred to it as "internal dialogue." I prefer to use the popular descriptive phrase "self-talk" in reference to it. Whatever we choose to describe it, it's a way we perceive reality. And consequently, how we "talk to our self" about this perceived reality is a vital key to unlocking the mystery of healing depression.

Typical of this inner speech that produces and maintains depression are some thoughts such as ...

* "I'm no good."
* "I'm not attractive."
* "People will talk about and laugh at me."
* "I can't."
* "I don't feel worthy."
* "I deserve punishment."
* "Nobody likes me."

The more depressed a person is, the more such "self-talk" beliefs dominate his or her thoughts. Psychologically, such thoughts are integrally connected to one's self esteem, which directly influences one's emotions, behavior, and over all functioning.

In high school, I remember a number of times when I suffered depressive episodes. After being valedictorian in my elementary years, I started doing poorly in my academic work. My grades had always been important to me. But I just couldn't concentrate in large part because of my distant relationship with my own parents. As a teenager, I took this as a lack of love and appreciation that affected the way I see and "talk to" my self.

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