Downward Spiral of Depression

downward spiralIn another post, we looked at the vicious cycles involving thoughts, behaviours, feelings, memories, and physical sensation that contribute to depression. When you’re experiencing depression, all of these aspects of your life interact with each other, generating a downward spiral bringing you deeper into depression. Negative patterns of thinking often have a adverse influence on behaviour; distressing physical symptoms often effect our feelings, leading to sadness and despair; and so on.

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How Not To Deal With Emotions

Emotions can be a great source of richness in our lives. However, when faced with overpowering negative emotions like sadness, guilt, fear and anger, our lives can seem overwhelming.

Most of us have never learned to deal with our emotions. Instead, as Sheri Van Dijk notes in The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Using DBT to Regain Control Of Your Emotions and Your Life:

Generally, if you’re experiencing an uncomfortable emotion, you don’t want it to stick around. That’s because it’s uncomfortable, of course. Ironically, this desire to get rid of unpleasant emotions can cause you to behave in ways that cause the emotion to stick around or even to become more intense.

Some of the most common ways we try to get rid of unpleasant emotions are by problems solving them, fighting or attempting to control our emotions, or trying to suppress or avoid them completely. In this post we’ll look at what happens when you try to problem-solve your emotions.

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Breathing In I Feel Calm, Breathing Out I Relax

monk meditating

Free Clip Art (CC BY-SA 4.0) from Wikimedia Commons

In previous posts we practiced Following Our Breathing By Counting Breaths and Following Your Breathing By Measuring Breaths and a Mindfulness of the Breath Meditation. Now we’re going to learn a great mindful breathing practice to help you calm yourself and relax.

Breathing In I Feel Calm, Breathing Out I Relax: Following your breath by silently repeating to yourself the phrase:

Breathing in I feel calm,
Breathing out I relax.

You can also shorten the phrases to:

In, Calm
Out, Relax

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Six Signs Your Relationship or Marriage May Be In Trouble

Marriage and relationship expert John Gottman has spent years analyzing relationships to figure out what makes them work, and what types of interactions between couples signal danger. Based on studying thousands of couples and how they interact, he’s able to predict with 91% accuracy whether a couple will divorce. He’s identified six signs, described below, that a relationship is in trouble. If these issues aren’t addressed, chances are the relationship will fail.

Please don’t get discouraged if you recognize many or all of these signs in your relationship. They are all very common, and diagnosing underlying problems in your relationship is the first step in mending things with your partner. Once you’ve identified what the problems are, there are concrete steps you can take to solve these problems.

1. Harsh Startup: Startup refers to the way a conversation begins, and a harsh startup occurs when a discussion begins with criticism or sarcasm or contempt. According to Gottman, discussions that begin with a harsh startup inevitably end on a negative note, regardless of how much you try to make amends in between. Read More



Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Cognitve Therapy in Theory and Practice

cbtCcognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), or cognitive therapy, focuses on the relationships and connections between our thoughts, feelings, actions, and our body. This sounds simple, but what does it mean?

In the CBT/cognitive therapy model, we recognize that we are each affected by the environment in which we live. This environment involves both our current situations (family, friends, job, culture, various stressor and supports, etc.), as well as our past (our family history, past relationships, previous successes and failures, etc.).

Within our environment, there are four elements of ourselves that interact with each other:

  • Cognitive: thoughts, cognitions, beliefs, self-talk
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Suppressing and Avoiding Emotions

emotionsIn previous posts we looked at what happens when we try to problem solve or control our emotions, neither of which tend to work. When we’ve giving up on trying to problem solve or control our emotions, our next step is often to try to suppress our emotions, or ignore them completely.
But this doesn’t work either. Maybe we can avoid our emotions for a while, but they keep coming back. Just like a child craving attention, our emotions won’t go away until we deal with them, and each time we try to ignore them, they come back louder and more intrusive.
In the Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Depression, based on Acceptance and Commitment therapy, Kirk Stroshal and Patricia Robinson note that:

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Turn Fights into Discussions by Softening Your Startup

When you’re facing a conflict in your relationship, one of the most effective things you can do to initiate a discussion that avoids turning into a fight is to learn how to soften your startup.

Disagreements tend to end with at least as much tension as they begin with. If you bring up the subject of a conflict with angry words, blaming and criticizing your partner, it’s likely the discussion will end in even more anger, blame and criticism. However, if you’re able to soften your startup—the way in which you broach the topic—you can have productive discussions with your partner on even the most sensitive subjects.

If you’re feeling too angry and upset to discuss things gently, then it’s better to wait until you’ve calmed down enough to approach the discussion from a less angry and more calm perspective. But once you’re ready to have a conversation, rather than an argument, below are some ways to soften your startup, avoid fighting, and promote discussion with your partner.

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