As we move towards the close of 2015 I’ve decided to take stock of the issues I’ve drawn attention to over the past year. Quite a lot of my focus has been on those self-help strategies available to us all, but I’ve also tried to reflect some of the research issues in terms of how we understand the causes of depression and what we know about treatments.
Once depression occurs it’s often a case of stopping, cooling right down, accepting treatment and allowing healing time. It’s far better to prevent it altogether and this very often points to a handful of actions we can all take. Still, let’s reflect on some of the research findings. In October, the prestigious journal Nature published that genetic links to depression had finally been discovered. It heralded a big step forward to what has always been suspected but never actually proved. A lot of questions were also being asked over accepted practices. For example, an extensive review of research concluded there was no proof that Omega-3 helps depression.
I then looked at medication, the holy grail of depression treatment, and posted an article on why antidepressants don’t live up to the hype. We probably expect too much of medication and too little of ourselves when it comes to therapy. I’ve always been an advocate of cognitive therapy but I felt obliged to put the other side of the story when I asked has CBT become less effective?
I’ve become increasingly interested in what the positive psychology movement has to offer in terms our mental wellbeing. Looking back I see several of my posts encourage the use of some fairly simple actions that can have very positive effects. I pointed out that mood improves with an attitude of gratitude before going on to describe a dozen ways to develop gratitude. I discussed recovery through positive psychology and how self-managing depression is an attainable goal, as is pursuing happiness.
Many people find that once depression has lifted they are left with a certain sense of foreboding. Their days are accompanied by a shadow that follows them – a constant reminder of their vulnerability. Early last year I wrote about the importance of recovering from depression with three small steps. Getting some recovery traction by reducing gloomy thinking isn’t easy but I suggested ways of taking the heat out of rumination and I discussed the notion of optimism and pessimism as helpful choices. I frequently mention the importance of social connectivity in helping ward off depression as well as its role in recovery. In these days of social media I asked which type of social connectivity is most meaningful?
And there we have it. In providing this short summary I’ve provided a snapshot of my 2015 topics. But, so far as our readers are concerned, the top three topics during 2015 were:
1. Six Behavior Changes During Depression http://www.healthcentral.com/depression/c/4182/157339/depression
2. Mild, Moderate or Severe Depression: How to Tell the Difference
3. 10 Ways Depression Will Change You
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.