How To Avoid Descent Into Depression
You’ll hear many times that single events can trigger a major episode of stress, depression and anxiety. The key word is “trigger”, because that is all a single event is. It doesn’t actually CAUSE str...
But how does this happen?Descent into a stressful, depressive or anxious episode happens because of negative and catastrophic reactions to events you are confronted with. One event by itself simply isn’t enough. There are many chain-reactions that take place before a person becomes highly stressed or depressed or anxious, but I’m going to discuss one of the biggest ones: using one event to ascribe catastrophic meanings to all areas of your life – I call it “generalizing”.
Let’s take a look at two events that most, if not all humans, will experience during their lifetime:
1. Loss of a job. 2. Death of a loved one.
Loss of a job is a major event that can trigger depression. Please understand, the job loss itself cannot cause depression. It triggers a number of reactions, especially generalization and here’s how it works:
You lose your job and you start to think in general terms:
“Oh no, this is disastrous! How will I cope now? What will people think of me when I tell them? My job meant the whole world to me, now my world is falling apart. I’m nothing without my job! How will I pay the bills? I won’t be able to get another job and life will become a real struggle. Everything is going wrong and I’ll never be happy again!”Now, this reaction is typical of how a depressive episode can be triggered by one event. Powerful words – disastrous, nothing, struggle, everything, never – will stir fearful emotions within you. Self-esteem is being hit, doubt about your abilities is raised, and a catastrophic prediction of the future is made. The job has also been used to ascribe meaning to your whole life and now it’s gone, a feeling that your life has no meaning is also present.
A similar reaction will happen when you lose a loved one:
“I’m devastated! He/She was my whole world, and now my world has fallen apart. Nothing will ever be the same again, I’ll never be happy and I feel empty inside. Life holds nothing for me anymore and I don’t know how I’ll cope without him/her. “Can you see the generalizations? Again, we have powerful, negative and emotionally charged phrases to ascribe meaning: whole world, fallen apart, nothing, never, anymore. And a catastrophic prediction for the future is present again.
In both examples, one event has been carried into all areas of your life. With a job loss, enormous importance has been placed on the job itself and now the job has gone, these general meanings cause you serious distress. It’s the same with losing a loved one. Meanings about your whole life have been placed on one person and their passing means your whole life is affected.
In generalizing like this, descent into mental trauma is inevitable.
To stop it, the key skill of keeping perspective is crucial. This means that you keep an event from one area of your life separate from other areas. For example, if the event is job loss, you react without generalizing:
“OK, I’ve lost my job, but my job is just a way to earn income. It doesn’t mean I won’t find a better job nor does it mean that things will change for the worst. My social and home life will still remain the same and I’ll carry on with my life just as I’ve always done. One chapter in my working life has ended and a new one is about to begin.
”Do you see the difference in how keeping perspective and not using powerful, emotionally charged words and phrases will prevent fearful emotions arising?Please remember that no change is permanent as nothing lasts forever. Things will come into your life and things will move out of your life. It is the cycle of life. Keep things relevant to the area of your life they affect and you will maintain good mental health no matter what circumstances you are faced with.
Until next time.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Former anxiety sufferer Chris Green is the author of “Conquering Stress”, the internationally acclaimed program which will help you to permanently conquer stress, depression and anxiety without taking powerful drugs. For a free mini course, please click here => http://www.conqueringstress.com