You’ve probably come across this theory: depression is due to faulty thinking, beliefs, and (say some) actions. Change these and all will be well. Unfortunately, this explanation is incomplete and thus misleading. As we’ll show in the next chapter, your beliefs are the result of your childhood conditioning, they are part—but not all— of the process that led to your depression.
If simply changing your beliefs and/or behaviors could defeat depression, then all of the therapy that Americans and others in the developed world have engaged in since Freud would by now have banished the disorder.
It’s not that your beliefs and actions cause your depression, although they perpetuate it. Your beliefs and behaviors spring from the same childhood experiences that helped cause your depression. Each of these traumatic experiences involved relationships.
Relationships with significant adults in your childhood led you to adopt negative self-beliefs and to behave in self-defeating ways. These keep you trapped in the past, forever acting out negative behavioral patterns and attracting people and cirThe Truth About Depression 35 36 Mapping the Way cumstances that mirror your childhood experience. This in turn retriggers the trauma of the past to perpetuate depression in the present.
Like any system—functional or dysfunctional—depression is self-reinforcing. It uses your pessimistic and self-deprecating beliefs and your self-destructive behaviors as barriers against positive change.
Yes, it’s important—indeed vital—to identify the negative beliefs and behaviors that keep you stuck in the past and retrigger trauma and depression. You need to challenge them and go against anything they want you to do. But you can’t do this and maintain the results entirely on your own or even with just the help of a therapist. Your childhood “programming” was put in place by your early experiences with other people, and you will need to enlist other people later in your life in the process of getting rid of them.
Just changing your thinking and behavior won’t create the conditions necessary for healing your brain.
(extracted from) Creating Optimism: A Proven, 7-Step Program for Overcoming Depression, Based on the popular Uplift program, written by Bob Murray Ph. D., and Alicia Fortinberry, published by Mcgraw-Hill