Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss how normal sadness can evolve into full clinical depression and some of the signs to watch out for - click here.
How would a normal amount of sadness ever evolve into depression?
We know that many people who are prone to depression have what psychologists call negative explanatory views. Every time you experience an event in your life, your brain investigates, explains, and remembers it for the future. Negative explanatory views exist when the brain can only see the negative side of an event.
The research of author, professor, and former American Psychological Association President, Dr. Martin Seligman, has identified three distinct ways the brain can transform sadness into depression:
When we are slipping into depression, we slowly transform a temporary setback into a permanent problem. Depression can seem insurmountable since the obstacle or issue is now seen as a permanent part of life.
To make matters worse, the depressed brain tends to make a mountain out of a molehill. It expands the reach and scope of a problem in one area of our life to all areas of our life. For instance, a setback at work also means that I’m now a horrible spouse and a terrible parent.
A depressed mind concludes that the negative outcome is entirely my fault. The blame isn’t shared, and it wasn’t just bad luck. The problem becomes very personal and can lead to a sense of helplessness. We are convinced that the obstacles in our lives are entirely our fault, and we tend to retreat to a life that is narrowed and more controllable.
Once you have experienced depression, you are twice as likely to fall back into depression in the future. Learning therapeutic systems like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or Dialectical-Behavior Therapy can dramatically lower your chances of experiencing depression again.
If you are worried that someone you know may be experiencing depression, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.
The work of Dr. Martin Seligman