How to Deal with Depression

Depression is not just a feeling. Depression is an action.

Adapted from Steven Hayes foreword to Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Depression. Kirk Strosahl and Patricia Robinson 2008 New Harbinger Publications.

That simple insight may strike with a force. It is an insight that initially contains both good news and bad news. The bad news is that the human mind will often turn it into yet another source for blame: “If depression is an action, then I should not be doing it, but apparently I am, so it must be my fault.”

No surprise there. Judging and blaming is what our minds often do, particularly when we are depressed. But the actions that lead to depression—the actions that in a deep sense are depression—are nothing to be blamed for. After all, the human mind is far, far too tricky for anyone to untangle from it without help. Depression is not the fault of the depressed.

The empowering news inside this same insight is even more powerful and more sustaining than the illusion of helplessness or the habits of self-blame. There is a concrete, active path forward. You are not a victim of your life. You are not doomed to endless suffering. As you learn the actions that have kept you entangled, you will begin to see that there is another way. The alternative is not beyond you. It is available, with help to see it, right here, and right now.

Brisbane ACT Centre therapists are humble, centred, compassionate, and wise. They’ve been there. They are ready to walk you, step by step, through the actions that have created trouble and the actions needed to let go of depressed habits of mind. If you have patience with the process, self-compassion for the pain you are in, and a willingness to face the difficulties and fears of taking a fundamentally different pathway forward, ACT techniques can change your life.

I can say that without fear of contradiction, because the scientific evidence showing that the processes ACT targets are central to depression has grown exponentially over the last decade. We now know a great deal about how cognitive entanglement works and how to help people become disentangled through mindfulness.

We now know a lot about how avoidance of experience works, and how acceptance can dampen down the war within. And we know a lot about how openness to experience can help you get in touch with your values and to begin to create a life with your moment-to-moment actions that resonates more with your deepest yearnings for meaning, wholeness, and connection with others.

You do not need to trust me or trust your therapist for the benefits of ACT to be felt. You do not need to believe anything or be convinced of anything. What you need is the willingness to look without blinking—to see what is true in your experience. As you try the methods of ACT, your own experience will be your best teacher.

Depression is not just a feeling. Depression is an action. The “word machine” in between our ears may indeed fear what that means, but for human beings the message is hopeful, vital, and valid. You do not need to wait for life. It has begun and it is yours to live. If you are ready to open up to that possibility, call us on 3193 1072 and begin.

 

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