If Nothing Can Be Done to Lessen or Heal Depression, Why Do I Keep Seeing Articles Like This One? ‘Feeling anxious and depressed? Sit less and move more, study says’
Some people have informed me (including (Link): a crank who stopped by this blog about a month ago), that there is really nothing that can be done to lessen or heal a person of depression – my (Link): ex friend who said she had depression claimed the same thing.
Which is peculiar, because every so often, I see editorials where psychologists and other mental health professionals are quoted where they give tips on how people can decrease their levels of depression, or find a ‘cure’ from it.
If there’s nothing anyone with clinical depression can do to lift the depression, not even a smidge, why on earth do these types of articles keep appearing – they would be utterly pointless.
Yep. Just as I was saying previously… there ARE steps someone with even clinical depression (which I had myself for over three decades) can take to lessen depression.
And if you have depression, and sit around all day, and/or engage only in passive activities that involve a screen (watching television, goofing around on social media all day, etc), your depression will not budge.
Other than seeing a psychologist or taking anti-depressants, you either need to be around non-depressed people face to face more often, and/or find hobbies that don’t involve watching a screen and/or engage in physical activity.
This article, and the studies it cites in the article, says nothing about lessening depression solely (or even primarily) from someone giving you on-going emotional support.
It’s going to take more than empathy to lessen depression, and nobody else can do it for you – it will involve you (if you’re the depressed person) getting up off the sofa, putting down your cell phone, lap top, or iPad. That’s a choice you have to make – and having depression doesn’t render you incapable of making it.
By the way, there are many videos on You Tube (many by licensed therapists and psychologists) that offer tips on how to decrease depression. If decreasing depression were not possible, those videos would not exist.
I’ll list a few of those below this link and long excerpt:
Haven’t gotten up from your desk in the last hour? You’re not the only one
by Daryl Austin
…A recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry tracked the moods and behaviors of 2,327 participants across all 50 states over eight weeks to measure the consequences of suddenly becoming more sedentary and found that sitting for significant amounts of time and more often was associated with higher symptoms of depression and anxiety.
“Our key finding was that high sitting time across the eight weeks was associated with a worse improvement in depressive symptoms over time,” said Jacob Meyer, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the college of Human Sciences, Iowa State University and the study’s lead author.
Meyer explained that as the pandemic began, it was clear that behaviors were likely to change as a result of lockdown measures and a dramatic increase in remote learning/working, so his team of researchers sought “to record these large population-level changes in response to this unprecedented societal event” in real time.
They found that in addition to people sitting for longer periods of time and more often and feeling more anxious and depressed as a result, the kinds of activities people engaged in while sitting changed as well.
Meyer explained that different sedentary behaviors have different effects on mental health.
“Passive sedentary behaviors such as browsing social media or watching television are most detrimental for mental health and were most influenced by the pandemic,” he said.
In 2020, increases in such behaviors often replaced sedentary behaviors known to be better for mental health such as family gatherings or social activities such as playing a board game with friends or watching a film together.
Michael Otto, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University and the co-author of “Exercise for Mood and Anxiety,” said the Iowa State study is one of many studies with similar findings.
“Population studies show a reliable correlation between sedentary status and increased rates of depression and anxiety,” he said, adding that both increased in turn during the pandemic. “General findings suggest that sedentary behavior increased with COVID along with a profound increase in depression and anxiety,” he said.
Indeed, Ayse Yemiscigil, a postdoctoral researcher and instructor for the human flourishing program at Harvard University, said her meta analysis of 49 studies conducted on the topic similarly “found that physical activity protects against the emergence of depression and anxiety.”
She lamented that when public health officials encourage people to exercise, the predominant discourse refers to the physical health benefits of being active when, in reality, the mental health benefits of exercise are just as important.
“My recommendation to people who want to exercise and those who want to encourage people to be active is to focus on the objective of improving mental health and well-being through physical activity,” she said.
…One of the ways exercise improves feelings of depression and anxiety is by releasing serotonin, often called the “happy hormone,” but Otto says physical activity modulates a number of other neurotransmitters that are also known to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. “It is clear from clinical trials that programmed exercise can treat both depression and anxiety and improve resilience to stress,” he said.
— end —
There are many, many more articles and videos out there with tips on how to decrease depression… if this were not possible, if giving someone emotional support cured or lessened depression, we’d not be seeing all this material below.
I can’t help but notice that all the advice I gave my ex friend (that ticked her off), and some of which was simply based on how I dealt with depression when I had depression, is verified on these mental health sites! These therapists, psychologists, are saying what I was saying – but I got my head bit off for it and thrown under the bus.
“Getting emotional support from others” is not on any of these pages (that I could see) – getting emotional support is fine, but it won’t do a lot to make your depression go down or stay away permanently:
(Link): Eight Tips For Living with Depression – from Very Well Mind
Excerpt (their Step Number 5):
Learn How to Stop Negative Thoughts
Depression doesn’t just make you feel bad, it can also cause you to think more negatively. Changing those negative thoughts, however, can improve your mood.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that works to alter common patterns of negative thinking called cognitive distortions in order to eliminate depression.6 There are also many self-help books, apps, and online courses that can help you learn how to change your unhealthy thinking patterns.
(Link): Coping with Depression
When you’re depressed, you can’t just will yourself to “snap out of it.” But this guide to depression help can put you on the road to recovery.
Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to take the steps that will help you to feel better. Sometimes, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like exercising or spending time with friends, can seem exhausting or impossible to put into action.
It’s the Catch-22 of depression recovery: The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. There is a big difference, however, between something that’s difficult and something that’s impossible. While recovering from depression isn’t quick or easy, you do have more control than you realize—even if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and build from there.
….Make face-time a priority. Phone calls, social media, and texting are great ways to stay in touch, but they don’t replace good old-fashioned in-person quality time. The simple act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can play a big role in relieving depression and keeping it away.
…Do things you enjoy (or used to)
While you can’t force yourself to have fun or experience pleasure, you can push yourself to do things, even when you don’t feel like it. You might be surprised at how much better you feel once you’re out in the world. Even if your depression doesn’t lift immediately, you’ll gradually feel more upbeat and energetic as you make time for fun activities.
(Link): Tips to Manage Depression – via ADAA
Limit rumination- rumination and depression go hand in hand; rumination is a type of thinking where you rehash a moment over and over again; you can learn to limit rumination by being more aware of it and redirecting yourself towards doing something more helpful. For example, when you are aware that you are ruminating, take notice of you are doing and what is around you. And ask yourself “what is one thing that I can do right now that is good for me?”
…Identify unhelpful behaviors and replace them with healthy, helpful behaviors
Build a sense of mastery-this involves setting realistic, achievable goals daily; rather than tackling big ticket items, break them down into smaller, more manageable units. This sense of mastery will also help to chip away at the unhelpful distortions.
…Engage in healthy joyful activities—this can involve something as small as brewing a nice cup of tea, listening to a favorite song, sending an email/text to a friend, dancing in your own space
When we are depressed we become less active. The less active we are the fewer opportunities there are for positive and rewarding things to happen to us. And the fewer rewarding things that happen to us the lower our mood becomes. Behavioral Activation (BA) is one way out of this vicious cycle. It is a practical and evidence-based treatment for depression.
…The reverse is true too. People who are depressed tend to do less overall and so they have fewer opportunities to feel pleasure, mastery, and connection – the things we need to feel good [1, 2, 3]. It is easy to fall into a trap:
Inactivity > Depression > Inactivity > Depression
(Link): Reframe Your Negative Thoughts: Change How You See the World 17/30 How to Process Emotions -you tube video
(Link): Catastrophizing: How to Stop Making Yourself Depressed and Anxious: Cognitive Distortion Skill #6 – you tube video
There are many other resources out there by mental health professionals with advice on how to decrease one’s depression.
Sitting around watching television half the day, napping the other half of the day (or receiving constant “emotional support” from friends), are not presented as being cures or aides for depression by qualified mental health professionals.
So if you have clinical depression, you will definitely feel like watching TV, napping part of the day, and never leaving the house, but you will have to make a choice to go against those tendencies to achieve any hope of getting rid of, or decreasing, your depression.
(Link): video on You Tube: 3 Ways I Manage Depression (not therapy or meds) – video embedded below:
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