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How to Fight Depression by Challenging Negative Thoughts

Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions - Dalai Lama

Even though it’s perfectly normal to feel down at times, depression can be truly debilitating. Understanding how to fight depression is the first step towards beating it. The trouble is some people never seem to beat it. David was like that.

‘It’s like someone up there has got it in for me’ he would say. Even when everything was going alright, David would squash any positive feelings with ‘It’s all going too well, you never know what’s around the corner.’

It was like he was trying to protect himself in some way by having negative expectations, deliberately setting the bar low.

As a consequence, David walked around with a personal cloud over his head and was constantly in a battle to beat depression. Many people gave him a wide berth. He was simply too negative to be around.

Making friends with the black dog of depression

So should you try to beat depression …or should you simply make friends with the black dog and wonder what it’s trying to tell you to about how you live your life?

If you’ve been down for a long time, you might think that’s just the way you are. Perhaps depression ‘runs in the family’?  Perhaps you think it’s in your DNA.

But you’ll be pleased to hear that, despite ten years of research and billions of pounds of investment they still have found no bio markers for most mental health problems.

What’s going on?

This is good news for anyone who wants to beat depression. If it’s not in your genes, then that means there must be ways of resolving it no matter how long you’ve had it.

‘The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time…… today.’

It’s never too late to start thinking positively. The way you think is critically linked to the way you feel. It’s not uncommon for people to have ‘thinking errors’. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy originator, Aaron Beck said ‘ If aliens landed right now and saw how human being think, they’d fall off their seats laughing.’ 

Are you catastrophising?

If you get a headache, do you think it’s a brain tumour? If you take a plane to go on holiday, do you imagine it’s going to crash and everyone will be killed?

Do you run scary films in your head?

If you are the kind of person who goes from A-Z missing out all the letters in between, then you have a classical thinking error.

You are a catastrophiser 3 and that alone will result in low mood and eventual depression.

If you’ve been trying to beat depression for a long time without success, perhaps it’s time to make some changes. The definition of madness after all is to keep doing what you’ve always done and expect something different to happen.

Beat depression by challenging negative thoughts.

Try saying ‘ok, if that’s the worst case scenario,  what would be the very best outcome …..and what are all the possibilities in between?

By looking for alternative thinking patterns you are bringing yourself back to rational thought and back to reality.

You are challenging the habit of polarised black or white thinking.

Turns out, there’s many more than fifty shades of grey!

Has negativity marred your life, or the life of someone you know? Let me know in the comments and we can start a discussion…

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.