By Chad McCoy, M.A.
Just like in any disease or illness: Early Prevention is key. From cancer to depression, the earlier problems are identified, the more adept we can be in treating and addressing these problems. Depression is no different. It is an illness that can many times go undetected for days, months, years, or even decades. People can live with mild depression and function fairly well. The question I have is how much more functional could these people be if they had an early diagnosis and preventative therapy?
Often people suffering with depression will be conned into maladaptive thoughts that denigrate their own self-worth and self-esteem. Depression’s a Smooth Criminal. This unwanted illness changes us both mentally and physically to the point that it can get really Bad. We don’t view ourselves as the Dapper Dan we once knew, or the Pretty Young Thing we once were. If depression can be identified at an early enough stage, we as professionals can challenge these negative, maladaptive thoughts, behaviors, and perceptions. An often common maladaptive thinking error is polarization of thoughts. Many times this will sound something like, “I’m either all good or all bad,” or an individual sees events as either safe or dangerous, never in between. This Black or White thinking leads to a person changing their behavior to adapt to their negative thinking patterns. This style of avoidance reinforces these missteps of thinking and increases the risk that these thoughts will happen habitually. The cyclical nature of depression can just make you want to Scream! This is why prevention is important.
Early intervention increases the likelihood of a positive prognosis for many individuals who suffer from depression. In therapy, I often acknowledge clients’ maladaptive thought processes and inform them that I, too, have many of the same thinking errors they experience. This normalizes their misguided thinking and helps individuals realize, “You Are Not Alone,” and that everyone has these thoughts. It’s a common misperception that we’re the only ones that feel this way; but guess what? We’re not. It’s almost Human Nature to have these thinking errors. Some just have more tools at their disposal to combat them.
Another point of early intervention is changing our behaviors so that we do not withdraw from others and isolate ourselves. This can often be seen as wanting more Privacy, but this is actually just a way for a depressed person to be alone with their thoughts; which are often illogical in nature.
This is It! If you’re a person who struggles with your own depression or you know somebody who does, please seek, or urge them to seek preventative services. I’m often reminded of my own need to seek prevention when it comes to both my own mental and physical health. Knowing that biologically I struggle with high blood pressure gives me an advantage in treatment, and increases my likelihood of a positive outcome. Professionals in mental health can help increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for you or anybody that suffers from depression. So, Call on Me or one of the other therapists at Edmond Family Counseling to help you address your depression or any struggle you may be encountering. You can support Edmond Family Counseling by donating on our website: www.edmondfamily.org. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow our Beedmond Twitter!