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5 techniques to help change negative thoughts of depression

Posted October 23rd, 2019

Positive and negative thinking crossword puzzle

According to the mental health charity Mind, one in six people per week report experiencing a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression in England. If you suffer from depression, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you break negative thought patterns and aid recovery.

Research has found that people with depression may inadvertently suppress positive emotions with thoughts such as ‘I don’t deserve to be happy’ or ‘This good feeling won’t last’. This is called ‘dampening’, a negative defence mechanism to protect from potential disappointment.

CBT has been shown to help significantly with treating depression, allowing you and your therapist to work together to break the thinking error cycle and allow happy thoughts to remain. With the help of regular CBT sessions and additional self-practice, you can identify negative patterns and work towards leaving them behind. Here are 5 CBT techniques to help you.

1 – Recognise the problem and brainstorm solutions

Both journalling and talking with your therapist can help you to discover the root of your depression. When you’ve hit on something, write down in simple sentences exactly what is bothering you, then think of ways to improve things. One of the tell-tale signs of depression is the feeling that things will never get better. Making a written list of things you can do to address the situation – taking steps to join a local club to beat loneliness, for instance – can help ease feelings of depression.

2 – Write down self-statements to counteract each negative thought

Once you’ve identified the root problem of your depression, think of all the negative thoughts you use to dampen any positive thoughts, then write a self-statement to counteract each one – for example ‘It’s OK to have a good day’ to replace ‘I am so depressed right now’. Repeat them back to yourself and commit them to memory, so that you can use them whenever necessary. In time, you will create new associations to replace your negative thought patterns with positive ones.

3 – Look for opportunities to turn negatives into positive thoughts

If your immediate reaction to something is always a negative one, you can retrain your brain to think positively. As an example, rather than thinking ‘I hate the colour of this room’ upon entering, find 5 things in the room that you feel positive about. It’s a good idea to set your alarm three times a day to reframe your thoughts into something positive. If possible, buddy up with someone who is working on the same technique, then celebrate your successes together.

4 – Finish each day with a gratitude journal entry

Starting a gratitude journal is a great habit to get into. Finish each day by writing an entry that focuses on the day’s best bits. By simply focusing on the positives and writing down what you are most grateful for, it can help you form new associations in your mind and create new pathways. Your day may go from ‘Another boring day at the office’ when you wake up to ‘What a beautiful sunny day it was’ when you come to writing your journal entry at bedtime.

5 – Put your disappointments into perspective

Everyone has ups and downs and disappointing situations are a part of normal life. It’s your reaction to each disappointment that can determine how quickly you can move forward. For instance, after a relationship breakup you may be blaming yourself thinking ‘no-one will ever find me attractive again’. A healthier approach would be to allow yourself to feel disappointed about the things you cannot change, but write down your lessons learnt and what you can do differently next time.

At KlearMinds we are aware that people with depression often don’t respond well to self-study, which is why we recommend a course of CBT with one of our trained therapists. That way, your therapist can teach you helpful CBT strategies to counteract negative thinking patterns associated with depression, then help you stay on track with practising the techniques at home. For more information or to book an appointment, please contact us.

Filled Under: Anxiety, Depression

Four ways social media negatively impacts mental health

Posted May 8th, 2019

Social media concept image

We all do it. Whenever you’re out for dinner or drinks with friends, chatting away and catching up on old times, where’s your phone? That’s right – it’s either in your hand already or sitting face up on the table, waiting to spark into life when that next social media notification comes in.

While social media can be a great thing, as success stories like the ALS #IceBucketChallenge prove, it can also be problematic – especially when it comes to our mental health. We as a society are now more interconnected than ever, but we are becoming over-reliant on social media. Recent research has even found that the average Brit checks their phones an 10,000 times a year, or 28 times a day. That is an obsessive level. We are addicted and most of us don’t even know it.

It’s not just the addictive side of it we have to worry about either. Social media often gets described as a ‘showing off contest’, due to people being able to upload images that seemingly glamourise their life. When you compare your own life to other people’s filtered photos, it’s easy to start wishing your life was better, or equal to theirs, which knocks your self-esteem.

Therefore, while social media can be a great tool, its overuse can have some harmful consequences. Here are four more ways in which using social media could be negatively affecting your mental health:

1 – Productivity

Let’s face it, social media is a massive distraction. Even while I’m writing this blog, I’m looking at my phone every now and then, so it’s affecting my productivity. It’ll affect your efficiency too, taking your attention away from the task at hand. This will not only affect the quality and accuracy of your work, but it will also waste time that could have been used to complete other tasks more quickly.

2  – Inadequacy

Having untapped access to social media means that you are always plugged into and looking at what everyone else is doing. Whether it be friends, family or celebrities, you are constantly comparing yourself to others all of the time, measuring your own life against a glamourised version of theirs. It’s not really a fair comparison, so don’t get yourself down if you feel like someone else’s life appears better than yours on social media.

3 – Inactivity

If you spend all of your free time glued to social media, flicking through feeds and replying to friends, when will you find the time to go outside and do something more active?

Being outdoors and getting some fresh air is vital to both your mental and physical health. The relentlessness of social media makes it difficult to break away from social networks, creating enough time to exercise. However, doing this is imperative, as exercise increases endorphin and blood flow to the brain, which keeps you healthy.

4 – Isolation

Talking to your friends through social media is not the same as meeting them in person. While life may get in the way, making it not possible to see friends face-to-face all the time, social media shouldn’t be a replacement for a true friendship.

Thanks to social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, interacting with others has become effortless – you can now even wave to your friends on messenger instead of saying hello. As a result of this though, we are now spending less and less time actually with other people, meaning we miss out on face-to-face communication and physical connection. This, in turn, makes us feel isolated – our only way of communicating coming through our phones.

Here at KlearMinds, we understand more than most about the power social media can have on mental health. If you suffer from feelings of inadequacy, isolation or unhappiness, get in touch with us today and we’ll be able to help you through it.

Filled Under: Anxiety, Depression

Are you SAD?

Posted November 9th, 2017

Sad Woman Looking Out Window

As the days get shorter and the weather turns colder, winter can affect our mood in many ways. But if The Winter Blues leaves you feeling miserable, irritable and tired every year, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a form of depression that can affect your mood, appetite, sleep and energy levels. It can play havoc with all aspects of your life – from your relationships and your social life to you sense of self-worth. You may feel that you’re a totally different person during the winter and find it tough to function normally. Then, come spring, it’s like a dark cloud has lifted and you can feel yourself again.

Treatment for SAD typically involves light therapy, using a light box that delivers up to 10x the intensity of normal daylight that is missing during wintertime. Daily exposure will trick the brain into producing less melatonin (the hormone that makes you feel sleepy and less energetic). Phototherapy is an effective treatment but it doesn’t work for everyone. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can also be highly beneficial for suffers of seasonal depression.

Whichever treatment plan you favour, it’s important to combine it with self-help techniques that will help you manage your symptoms. By adopting healthy daily habits and scheduling time for fun and relaxation into your day, seasonal affective disorder can be controlled in the short and longer term.

Top 5 Self Help Tips for SAD

1 – Get as much exposure to natural light as you can by spending time outdoors in the winter sunshine, and keep curtains and blinds wide open during sunny days.
2 – Take regular exercise (preferably outdoors!) – 30-60 minutes a day are recommended. It will help you boost all those feelgood brain chemicals, improve your sleep and self-esteem.
3 – Be social and reach out to friends and family, meet new people or take up a hobby. Being around other people will take you out of your shell and provide inspiration to make positive changes.
4 – Eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to keep your energy up. Stay away from sugary foods and simple carbs, choosing whole grains instead to minimise mood swings.
5 – Beat stress and counteract negative feelings through daily relaxation techniques including yoga and meditation, and make time for fun activities that make you feel good.

If you feel that you would benefit from speaking to a trained counsellor or psychotherapist to discuss any of the issues mentioned above, please contact the KlearMinds team on 0333 772 0256 or email your enquiry to info@klearminds.com. We are delighted to have helped many people overcome a wide range of concerns, empowering them with the skills to maintain happier and more fulfilled lives.

Filled Under: Depression

Coping With Personal Loss

Posted November 25th, 2016

5-stages-of-grief

When a loved one dies, it can feel like the end of the world as we know it. The natural response of grieving for our loss is a hard and extremely painful process to go through, and we all have a different and unique response to losing someone close.

Bereavement counselling is there for you when it seems like you’re drowning in sorrow, unable to move forward. That’s when it can be enormously beneficial to work with a trained therapist who can help you through the stages of grieving to enable you to acknowledge and process what has happened. With the benefit of counselling, you will in time allow life to continue with adaptation and change while preserving the memory of the person who passed away.

There are 5 generally recognised stages of grieving that we all go through when learning to cope with personal loss. As you move through the bereavement process, you may experience some or all of these stages and in any order. It is an important part of the healing process to allow yourself to experience and accept all the feelings as they occur.

  1. Shock and Disbelief

The first response to a bereavement is typically one of disbelief and shock, even if the death did not come as a surprise. Numbness is often a natural reaction to an immediate loss – it’s our body’s way to shield us from the intensity of the event, and can be useful when action needs to be taken, for instance to make funeral arrangements. As we slowly acknowledge what has happened, the feelings of shock and denial will diminish.

  1. Guilt and Bargaining

This stage involves an intense preoccupation with what might have been, if only some other course of events had occurred. It’s easy to obsess endlessly about how things could have been better, what could have been done to prevent the worst outcome. That’s why it is important to resolve this stage, so that guilt and remorse don’t get in the way of the long-term healing process.

  1. Anger

Many people will experience anger over their personal loss which may feel unfair and untimely. Strong feelings of anger can be a result of perceived helplessness and powerlessness, either as a result of having somehow been ‘abandoned’ by the deceased or because a higher power was at play.

  1. Depression and Loneliness

Once the full extent of the loss is realised, sadness and loneliness begin to set in. Normal responses may develop into depression as it becomes difficult to ease the pain. Sleeplessness, low mood, appetite disturbances, lack of energy, self-pity, social withdrawal and physical pains are all symptomatic of this stage of grieving.

  1. Acceptance

In the final stages of bereavement, we begin to fully accept that the death has occurred and we are slowly allowing ourselves the ability to manage its effect on us. Healing can begin once the loss becomes integrated into our life experiences and we are able to move forward with our life.

If you feel that it would be helpful to speak to an experienced bereavement counselor to share your personal circumstances, please contact us to arrange an appointment at one of our London clinics.

Cognitive Distortions and Thinking Errors – How Can CBT Help?

Posted November 28th, 2014

Cognitive Distortions cbt

 

When you’re feeling worried or stressed, would you say your thoughts are mostly positive or negative? If you’re like most people, negative thoughts run rampant and you might feel that you have trouble controlling them.

Some people who suffer from anxiety or depression say they wish they could “shut off” their thoughts. Often, it is actually these thoughts rather than the specific incident or situation that is causing the anxiety or depression in the first place. (more…)

Ten Tips for Managing Depression

Posted October 24th, 2014

10 tips for managing depression

If you’re one of the many people who suffer from depression, it might seem like there is no way to stop feeling sad. Depression has a way of taking over your life, crushing your spirit and hampering your motivation.

 

Although these feelings often require professional help to resolve, there are quite a few things you can do on your own to mitigate the negative feelings.

Here are ten tips for managing depression:

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Filled Under: Depression
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Is psychotherapy more effective than medication in treating depression?

Posted September 22nd, 2014

psychotherapy or medication to treat Depression
 

According to estimates, one in five people will suffer from depression over the course of their lifetime. So, it is unsurprising that many different treatments for the condition exist.

 

There are dozens of medications, a long list of psychotherapy styles and other types of support that can help.

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