How can I let go of depression's indirect benefits so I can recover?

An obstacle to finding the gifts of depression in your own life might be that there are secondary gains to being depressed. Learn to overcome them by doing the following exercise:
  1. Take out a journal and make a list of rewards you get from your depression. You do not need to feel embarrassed or ashamed that you may benefit from your feelings of despair. Any behavior, thought, emotion or condition will have costs and benefits. In this exercise, you are just practicing becoming aware of what those benefits might be in the case of your depression. List as many benefits as possible.
  2. After you have a long list, choose three of the most powerful benefits. This means which benefits seem compelling to you? Which benefits, that you now notice, would be hard to live without?
  3. As you look at these benefits, ask yourself, "Is it worth it to stay depressed to maintain these benefits?" Write in your journal your response to this question. Some people might be surprised to find that their first knee-jerk response is "Yes." If that's the case, just keep writing and don't censor what you think and feel.
  4. Return to the list of the most powerful benefits. Write down each one in your journal, followed by the question, "How can I get this benefit without being depressed?" Come up with as many answers as possible, even if they don't make sense yet, or you can't see how it would really work. For example, one client said that he could obtain the benefit of showing his parents what a failure they were by just telling them that they were idiots and they had completely alienated him so they were miserable failures as parents. He realized he could tell them, rather than show them by messing up his life.
  5. Look at your list of ideas for getting the benefits you want, and create a plan that involves the most realistic of the ideas you came up. Create an action plan for working toward creating these benefits in your life without being depressed.

Continue Learning about Living With Depression

Living With Depression

Living With Depression

Living with depression can feel like a challenge, but with the right tools, you can learn to successfully manage your condition. It's important to follow the recommendations of your primary healthcare provider, take any depression ...

medication as prescribed and utilize the social supports around you. It's also important to eat well, get enough sleep, exercise and keep track of your depression symptoms.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.