Psychological Self-Help

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152
Although depression frequently seems (to the depressed person) to
come from nowhere, i.e. isn't related to daily events, that isn't true in
most cases. The Lewinsohn research has clearly shown that positive
events or activities lead to positive moods; negative events to
depression (Grosscup & Lewinsohn, 1980). The depressed person must
become aware that this is true in his/her life too. So rate your mood
on a 1 to 10 scale (see chapter 2) and keep a log or a diary every day
of positive events and activities. It is likely that your mood will reflect
what is happening in your life. 
As we have seen, depressed people tend to focus on negative
events and overlook positive ones. They don't know they are doing
this. So, it is important that they "give careful recording a try and see
what happens." Look for and record all pleasant events and activities,
even small, trivial, seemingly unimportant pleasant events. It is vital
that you learn, again, to see the beauty, feel the warmth, and smell
the roses. Don't forget ordinary things: a cup of coffee, a walk, seeing
a bird, reading a book, helping someone, watching kids go to school,
watching the news, reading an advice column, going shopping,
listening to music, making yourself attractive, visiting a neighbor,
completing a chore, calling a friend, daydreaming, playing with
children, expressing an opinion, getting a long kiss, getting or giving a
compliment, etc., etc. Record in your diary (3 or 4 times each day,
otherwise you'll forget them) a brief description of these pleasant
events. 
After about a week, plot your daily mood rating and number of
pleasant events for that same day on the same graph (see chapter 2).
See if your mood doesn't go up and down according to how many
pleasant events occurred that day. If so, this is a powerful argument
to increase the number of pleasant events in your life and to
appreciate the nice things that happen. 
This is a simplified version of a "behavioral analysis" (method #9 in
chapter 11) in which one would look for the antecedents and
consequences of good and bad moods. The objective is to find cause
and effect relationships that can be used to increase happiness and
reduce sadness. I would recommend a behavioral analysis because it
explores the causes of the depression as well as the sources of
satisfaction. 
Look to the future
Like procrastinators, when we become depressed we tend to focus
on the past or to see primarily the immediate consequences, not the
long-term results of what we are doing now. We hurt, so we focus on
immediate relief, disregarding activities that might be stressful but
very important to our future, like getting training for a new career. To
increase your awareness of the effects of your activities, do one
"outcome analysis " each day of some activity, i.e. estimate the short
and long-term, both positive and negative, outcomes. Examples: 
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