In my last blog, I talked about some of my afterthoughts about being interviewed on the Dr. Oz radio show about my book Depression is Contagious.
The other guest, Dr. Peter Freed, spoke to the medical/biological aspect of depression in contrast to my social perspective. Both perspectives have value, of course, as there is indeed a biological as well as social aspect to depression.
What you focus on, though, will make a huge difference in how you go about treating it.
Dr. Freed brought up the topic of the value of play. I’d like to amplify the merits of play in this blog. Dr. Freed talked about how kids need to play, adults need to play, too, and I couldn’t agree with him more.
When people are depressed, though, they typically stop doing the things they enjoy doing.
In fact, one of the basic diagnostic questions to help assess for depression is, “Have you stopped deriving pleasure from the things that normally give you pleasure?” If the answer is ‘yes,’ then they are revealing something called anhedonia. Anhedonia is the loss of pleasure, one of the foundational symptoms of depression.
What happens so typically is that when people feel bad, they stop doing the things they normally like to do. They stop going to movies, going out to eat, visiting with friends… And, little by little, they build their life around the depression until the depression eventually is all there is.
To me, it’s common sense: If you’re not doing the things you enjoy doing, how are you supposed to feel good?
Thus, it’s important that you build into every day, every week, doing those things that provide you with some pleasure. Take a walk in nature, watch a sunset, watch a bird fly, listen to jokes, watch a comedy, read a book, play a game, play or watch a sport, enjoy a craft or working in your garden, do whatever makes you feel good.
Go out and do something you enjoy and notice the shifts in your experience when you’re no longer building your life around just feeling bad all the time.