Taking the Wheel: How to Gain Control Over Your Depression

Kick Depression out of the Driver’s Seat

What has depression done for you lately?Driving image

This might seem like a silly question. But the answer is, probably a lot! The truth is, our emotions do a lot for us. They motivate our behavior and signal us, and others around us, to respond in certain ways. This is helpful in many ways, like when we need to jump out of the way of something coming towards us or take a bit of time to nurture ourselves after a sad event.

What if you could just get rid of sadness?

This may seem like a tempting solution, but we are all biologically hardwired to feel sadness for a reason. It cues us to reserve our energy so we can grieve, cope, and recuperate. It also informs others that we need support. So the problem isn’t actually your ability to feel sad, but that the sadness is sticking around.

Emotions Build on Themselves

The problem is that emotions can build on themselves based on our responses to them. For example, when we feel happy we want to go out and do active things, when we are sad, we want to listen to sad music and stay inside. This is okay if it is a temporary shift, but sometimes what maintains depression is different than what initiated the feelings of sadness. To be clear, what you are DOING impacts your mood. The good news is, there are many ways to overcome depression.

Who is in the driver’s seat anyway?

So pause for a moment and ask yourself: What may depression be “telling” you to do?
The urges we have when depressed are to avoid things, isolate, withdraw, think of other sad things, and possibly even feel like giving up. The problem is, we can get stuck in this pattern. Especially if depression is in the driver’s seat, calling every shot, dictating every move. The good news is, you can get back in the driver’s seat.

Taking control of your behavior

Obeying your depression is keeping you stuck. So what would it look like if you had control of the wheel? You would be doing the OPPOSITE of what depression is telling you to do. You would likely be doing things that really matter to you. It takes being really deliberate and NOT listening to your depression when it tells you to stay in bed or avoid that phone call. So stop listening to your depression and kick it out of the driver’s seat. It may stick around for a bit as an annoying back seat driver, but at least it is not running the show.

Get active

What is the opposite of isolating, withdrawing, or giving up? Getting active! Ask yourself what this might mean for you? Does that mean going back to work or school? Getting showered and dressed each morning? Exercising? Spending time with friends? Doing things you are good at and enjoy? You will know the answer to these questions. Although you won’t FEEL like doing them initially, this is not about acting on your emotions. This is about overcoming your depression.

Observe Urges of Depression… Do the Opposite… Repeat

You will likely have to repeat acting in a way opposite to your sadness over and over again. The more you do this, the less your feelings and sadness have a chance to build up, and the better you will feel.

Help is Available

What happens if you try to get back in the driver seat and depression keeps shoving you out of the way? You call for recruits. We can help you. If you or anyone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression it is important to explore treatment options to get the help you may need, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Contact us at Behavioral Associates, Los Angeles to find out what treatment may be best for you. To explore CBT interventions further check out our resources page.

Michelle Dexter, Ph.D. | Associate | Behavioral Associates Los Angeles
Behavioral Associates Los Angeles is a group of cognitive-behavioral therapists specializing in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders. To find out more, contact us by phone at 310-205-0523 or by email at treatment@behavioralassociatesla.com.

You can also request an appointment with a Behavioral Associates LA psychologist by submitting a brief patient assessment form on our Website. Our clinical staff will follow up with you within 24 hours of submission.