The Best Books To Help With Depression and Anxiety – 2018
Feeling Good, the New Mood Therapy, by David Burns
Mr Burns from the ‘off’ uses his knowledge of how the mind thinks and works for someone who is depressed, acknowledging the problem of their automatic negative thoughts whilst basing it on the fact that many depressed people are of the mind it has nothing to do with just their thinking, but that it is something much more significant,
He acknowledges how hard it is to get past the idea that your depression, and the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are to do with your emotional response to those thoughts.
He spends time at the beginning, getting over the message how this powerful principle is at the heart of cognitive therapy, and that it is the result of your feelings and the messages and thoughts you give yourself that is at the very route of your problems.
He makes it clear, for this therapy to stand a chance of helping with your healing you need to fully cooperate and at least be open to the idea that your feelings and emotions originate from your thoughts.
He spends much time at the beginning convincing you that documented research has proven that your negative thoughts cause your emotional turmoil and nearly always contain gross distortions…and if you learn to deal with your moods more effectively, if you master methods that will help you pinpoint and eliminate the mental distortions that cause you to feel upset, then you will without doubt reap the benefits.
In Chapter 3, Mr. Burns makes a revolutionary point in his study that might surprise or even annoy some people, but nevertheless it makes the treatment and attitude to depression a real game changer. Something that was always bound to happen if we are to evolve and to constantly find ground breaking breakthroughs in mental illness.
Chapter 3 he talks about how depression has been viewed as an emotional disorder through many years in psychiatry, and how great emphasis was placed on getting in touch with your feelings.
This book turns that theory on its head and says that your negative thinking is the cause of your “feelings.” It’s the negative thoughts that fill your mind as the cause of your moods.
Mr. Burns likens it to… “The way you feel is of no more casual relevance than a runny nose is when you have a cold.”
At the core of CBT Mr. Burns has developed 10 cognitive distortions which he says are at the route of your depression and one of the important parts of this therapy to learn and grasp.
BRIEF DISCRIPTIONS – HERE ARE THE TEN COGNITIVE DISTORTIONS.
The route of most depressions.
An example of this is because if you are feeling a certain way then it must be the truth. i.e. “I am feeling worthless so I must be worthless.”
This is to do with black-or-white thinking. It’ can be the person who takes an exam and feels that unless he gets straight A’s he is a failure, even if he passes with equally good results of ‘B’s. Nothing is that straight forward in life. It’s a perfectionist’s outlook.
You go to park your car in a car park and after ten minutes of still looking for a place to park, complain this always happens to you, and come to the conclusion, you can never find a parking place, and have the tendency to forget the previous times you have parked up with very little problems.
You pick out the negative any any situations. You can pick out a negative in any situation and turn it over and over in your head. You could go for an interview for a job that you don’t get and take from that that you will never get another job. You don’t think about maybe how well you did do even if you didn’t get the job.
Disqualifying the positive
This is when you have had some good experiences happen to you but how you turn them into a negative. A good example of this is when someone gives you a compliment and you tell yourself they were just being nice.
Jumping to conclusions.
You might see a work colleague on the other side of the street and wave to them but they don’t wave back, you might conclude from this that they are deliberately blanking you. Where in actual fact it might just be that hadn’t actually clocked you and maybe they were deep in thought.
SELF ESTEEM AND THE ROLE OF THE THERAPIST.
I really love that Doctor Burns also tackles an important part of depression, of self-esteem in his book, acknowledging that depressed people see themselves as inadequate and worthless in all areas of their lives and answering the question, why do people have low self esteem.
So it is interesting that he looks at the role of psychiatrists “buying in” to the patient’s beliefs about himself or herself, and how due to not counteracting this belief to their patient, and by saying nothing, it perpetuates the idea as correct.
He feels any therapist worth his salt should be giving objective feedback about your self-evaluation.
An interesting fact comes from the knowledge that Freud himself had said that when the patient is saying he is worthless, not able to achieve, then he must be right?
Quote by Freud “It would be equally fruitless from a scientific and therapeutic point of view to contradict a patient who brings these accusations against his ego. He must surely be right in some way and be describing something that is as it seems to him to be”.
He believes when you suffer from low self-esteem you dread criticism because you have never learnt techniques to deal with them. But more interestingly… how some psychiatrists themselves can react badly to criticism.
Dr Burns has used this idea as a point in how important it is when dealing with self-esteem, that the Therapist handles your feelings of inadequacy correctly, because of how crucial it is to your healing.
This is where CBT comes into it’s own because it gets you to challenge these beliefs of inadequacy.
In dealing with self esteem (worthlessness) he teaches you to “Talk Back to That Internal Critic” in three steps.
a. Train yourself to recognize and write down the self-critical thoughts as they go through your mind.
b. Learn why these thoughts are distorted; and
c. Practice talking back to them so as to develop a more realistic self-evaluation system.
I am impressed by Dr Burns all round understanding of the depressed person.
I find his acknowledgement and understanding of how depressed people think is quite profound.
For Instance he talks about how people who are depressed think in more concrete terms. In other words they think literal definitions, in the here and now and more on the physical world.
Concrete thinkers think more on the surface, where as the opposite of Concrete is abstract, and that abstract people are able to think in more depth.
YOUR EMOTIONAL PRISON.
This book is primarily teaching you how to practice CBT, but is so much more in that it teaches you many other aspects of depression besides self esteem and guilt he also talks about – “Do-Nothingism”.
This is something most people with depression and emotional issues will recognize. This is when you isolate yourself from friends and family and have no motivation to do practically anything; David Burns likens it to ‘paralyzing your willpower’.
Any activity seems difficult, getting out of bed, showering, cooking for yourself, etc.
But the fact that you know what you should be doing but can’t, fills you with self hatred bringing on more frustration and becoming overwhelmed by any tasks that you feel need your attention.
In this he poses the question – “ Why do we frequently behave in ways that are not in our self interest”?
He explains this behavior as a typical “Lethargy Cycle”!
In the lethargy Cycle he talks about how the thoughts on the patients mind are negative, and how much more convincing they are when you are depressed. You then in turn take these negative emotions as proof that your pessimism is true, and how you then take a different approach to life. Hence you stay in bed!
He goes on to list the types of mind-sets that lead to this do-nothingness. (In Brief)
1. Hopelessness: you get frozen in the present of your pain of your hopelessness.
2. Helplessness, you are convinced you can do nothing because they are factors outside your control i.e. Luck, fate, money etc.
3. Overwhelming Yourself: You irrationally assume that you have to do everything at once, and not breaking it down into tasks.
4. Jumping to Conclusions: The more you procrastinate the more you condemn yourself as inferior.
5. Undervaluing the Rewards: Any task you see as difficult and not worth the effort.
6. Perfectionism: You defeat yourself before you even start with inapproiate goals and standards.
These are just six of the thirteen mind-sets associated with do-nothingness.
· As long as you have a persistent willingness and attitude to exert some effort to help yourself… you will succeed.
· . It’s a skill that will help you cope with life’s ups and downs for years to come.
· The mood control techniques he teaches are not just for people who have mental health issues but is for anyone going through the difficult life issues and those vague chronic problems such as divorce, death, low self esteem, guilt, confidence
· He pushes the point this is not just another self-help pop psychology.but shown to be one of the first forms of psychotherapy shown to be effective through vigorous scientific research at the highest academic level,
· A lot of studies published in scientific journals comparing the effects of CBT with taking anti depressants. The outcome has shown CBT is as effective as some anti depressants and often more effective long term and short term.
· One thing I know about depression and healing from depression is your self-esteem is at rock bottom. Mr Burns has got this and includes some great help with low self esteem. This is something that is not necessarily picked up on with other books and training on CBT.
· David Burns is honest with the idea that if you practice CBT it does not mean you will never have depression anxiety or emotional issues again. What CBT does do is teach you a lifetime skill to manage your emotions and thoughts. He likens the question that you wont ever get the blues again, as the same as saying that you will never get out of breath again if once you attained a level of fitness through jogging.
· After going through the process once with a professional you can then practice and self help yourself.
· Can you be absolutely honest with yourself? You don’t just have to identify your distorted cognitions but have to be brutally honest with yourself and analyze them.
· This will be beyond what some people will feel they can do, based mainly on the idea that they don’t believe it is just their thought patterns to blame.
· You could write his book off as just another self-help book that wont help you. You will see his ideas as you being labeled as being defective or flawed in some way.
· You are in the do-nothingness state. You are overwhelmed by the desire to do nothing!
· You don’t see your healing as your responsibility, or if you do see it as your responsibility you think it will be beyond your capabilities to do.
· You are offended by the idea that your emotional state, depression is NOT
· Thinking your problem is unique and beyond any book or modern thinking ideas.
· Cognitive Behavior Therapy is just the latest Fad.
Our body and mind can heal but it does need some help from us.
After years of therapy and different treatments, my life only changed for the better when I took responsibility for my thinking and feelings…and learnt to heal myself.
Feeling Good – the new mood therapy by David D Burns the book that changed my life.