Who is at risk for depression?

Genetic pre-disposition and difficult early childhood events can be risk factors for developing depression over the course of one’s life. There is no way to alter those facts of our history. We know that anti-depressant medication plus counseling have proven to be extremely helpful to many people. However, researchers have found that there is another factor that we can change, without medication, and that it can make all the difference in the world for an individual’s quality of life.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Studies have shown that a person’s explanatory style can have an immunizing effect against depression even when powerful life difficulties occur.

It most likely would not be possible or reasonable to be a boundless optimist all the time. We all need to deal with the realities of life. However if there is a pattern of a pervasive, permanent, and personal sense of pessimism leading to a feeling of extreme helplessness, a person will most certainly be at risk for depression. Interesting studies have labeled this learned helplessness. The good news is that it can be unlearned and replaced with a more productive thinking style so that we can feel differently and therefore behave differently.

For example: John and Ann have a huge fight.
“John thinks, “We will never get along.”
“We are just a bad match in every way.”
“I always say the wrong thing and make Ann angry.”
Learned helplessness leaves John acting withdrawn, angry and hopeless.

With a brief course of counseling, you can learn to be aware of the way you think about difficult events. By doing that work, you can change your thoughts, feelings, and your life.