Positive Attitude

Many times I have heard a phrase something along the lines of this: “I’ve been depressed before. But I just learned to snap out of it.”

It is often said by someone who has never really experienced depression in response to the suffering of someone who has depression. The implication is that the depressed person merely lacks the willpower to “snap out of it.”

Depression is more than just sadness. It is different to grief. Depression is a chronic state of low mood, negative thinking, depleted energy and absence of motivation. It is a self-perpetuating state in which the very actions that might contribute to recovery seem the least possible.

There is a paradox for therapy, too: the changes in thinking and behaviour that a therapist encourages can sometimes seem too hard; but the consequence of not making those changes can then be feelings of guilt, of not trying hard enough, and further depression.

This paradox is brought to my mind by this excellent comic by Randall Munroe, author of the webcomic XKCD.

Management of real, clinical depression is not as easy as just “snapping out of it”. Thinking you should be able to “snap out of it” will do nothing to help recovery. Accepting that part of your problem is not you, but your illness, may help you to be less demanding on yourself – and maybe, in the process, find some neglected hope.

About Paul McQueen

Dr Paul McQueen is a Clinical Psychologist, holding a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Melbourne. He has experience working in both adult and child mental health services in Queensland and Victoria. Dr McQueen is comitted to providing high quality, evidence-based interventions for a range of mental health conditions. He specialises in the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Depression.

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