Great Self-Help Therapy for Depression: Why Don’t I Do It?

Young man in land of make-believe

The force for change and healing can start with excitement and promise, then slowly dissipate until settling back into the stillness of depression. There are great self-help therapies to achieve well-being, and I have great intentions to get them all done. So why don’t I do them?

I feel like a basketball. It hits the floor with a lot of energy, bounces high, then drops back, bounces up again but not so high and falls again, this time with less force. It repeats this in diminishing arcs until there’s no bounce left, and the ball slowly rolls to a stop. The energy of motion is gone. It returns to a state of rest and stays there until the next powerful push slams it to the floor.

The body’s whole purpose is to maintain a steady state. One measure is holding to the internal temperature of 98.6F. To do that it burns the energy you give it, pumps the muscles you command and those you don’t, keeps up the current of electric flow of information through the nervous system, and coordinates the flipping of thousands of chemical switches. All this brings you back to a physical set point, the steady state that keeps you alive.

There’s also an emotional set point, the steady state you return to after the exceptional power of excitement or grief have subsided. Depression pulls that set point lower and lower on the scale until you live permanently in a state most people regard as an extreme.

That’s the depressive set point I sometimes fall back to when it comes to all those therapeutic actions. They promise to lift my emotional and physical steady states into the zone of vitality, but something stops me. Read the rest»