Distorted Thinking
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Distorted Thinking Leads to Depression

The Riverside, California MDDA educational meeting on February 9, 1999 consisted of a talk by Linda Gilber, Ph.D., a cognitive therapist, on how our belief systems can affect if not create our mood disorders.

The speaker explained how faulty thinking results in disturbed patterns of thinking and undesirable behavior. Some of theses misconceptions are that:
   1. We must have the love or at least the approval of every significant person in our lives or           else it’s awful. 

    2. We must not make errors or perform poorly or else it is terrible.

    3. People and events must always be the way we want them to be. 

When we believe these myths-that the world should be an ideal place-we set ourselves up for problems. Many factors make us what we are, including our genetic makeup, our experiences, and our intake of drugs, medications, and food. Depression and manic-depression may be hereditary, possibly due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, perhaps caused by some unknown force. 

Cognitive behaviorists believe that change can take place by practicing new, more desirable behavior. Rather then attempting to change a patient’s perceptions, which are based on sensory input, cognitive therapy challenges the beliefs based on those perceptions. These beliefs create our attitudes, habits, and values, which may be undesirable or desirable. 

There is a difference between depression and agony. When you lose a loved one, you experience agony-a sense of loss and intense pain, but life goes on and is worthwhile. Your sense of self-worth remains. A pattern with depression at the end might go like this:
     a) An undesirable event occurs or threatens.
 
     b) You believe it cannot be prevented, corrected, or avoided. 

     c) You feel regretful, sad, or disappointed (not depressed at this point). But then you add the            following “magical beliefs” about a) and b): 

  1. You must change the situation you have defined as unchangeable.

  2. Since you did not or cannot redo the undesirable situation, you are incompetent, unworthy,       unlovable, and you can’t stand it. 

  3. Things will always be horrible from now on, never good again.. 

This is the point at which depression occurs. The midst of agony is not the best time for therapy to begin. In fact, one may recover normally from the grieving . If depression sets in, however, therapy can assist timely recovery. 

Healthy thinking says: 
   1. It’s nice to have other’s love and approval, but I can still accept and enjoy myself without it. 

   2. Doing things well is satisfying, but it’s human to make mistakes, and I can learn from them.

   3. People and events are going to be the way they are, not necessarily the way I want them to        be. 

   4. THIS TO SHALL PASS. 

Do you want to be better? A “YES!” answer is the key to recovery. Some are so looked into their depressive patterns, it becomes more comfortable, in a way, than the unfamiliar health state. It may take several months to change a lifetime of unhealthy, distorted thinking. A person with chronic depression must do something every day to break the cycle. 

A cognitive therapist exercise has been shown to be the best single treatment for depression, but most depressed people are more inclined to stay home, stay in bed, or otherwise become isolated and inert. 

Others may try to entice to join them in some social activity, even simple things, but if they are repeatedly rebuffed, they will eventually give up. Ultimately, it is up to the sufferers to do the recovery work themselves. 

It helps to remember that few, if indeed any, conditions last forever. Bliss, ecstasy, joy, and peace do not last, and neither will depression. 


During times of improvement, preparations can be made to reduce the frequency, intensity, or duration of episodes, possibly avoiding them altogether. There is no “magic wand”: however the job of recovery is accomplished by hard work and more hard work. 

Condensed from the thermometer times, Riverside

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