Depression Recovery Guidelines
By Bob Murray, PhD
Most treatments for depression don't work, or only work in the short term. Antidepressants work only as well (or less) than placebos, and work for less than 50% depressed people. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has an 80% relapse rate. Psychotherapy in combination with antidepressants has more success but is not the full and lasting answer to depression.
We believe that long-term recovery from depression ultimately requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the underlying relationship causes of depression, not simply symptoms such as chemical imbalance and depressive thoughts. This is why healing both the relationship environment and the whole person is vital in preventing relapse.
The Uplift Program has a 94% success rate in aleviating depression, according to follow-up questionnaires up to 2 years later, and integrates many of the following depression recovery techniques.
- Good relationships: studies show that relationships with partners, carers, teachers, co-workers and a supportive social network results in physical and emotional healing, and prevents isolation and loneliness, major factors in depressive illness.
- Understanding the real causes of depression so that people don't feel inadequate for not having been cured.
- Learning how to create relationships that meet needs not met in childhood.
- Identifying emotional, cognitive, relationship and neuromuscular patterns and learning concrete tools to change these, including many CBT techniques.
- A safe, supportive and non-judgemental group environment.
- A good relationship with a therapist or physician.
- Techniques to boost self-esteem and a sense of competence.
- Feldenkrais or Repatterning Movements (RPMs) that promote immediate improvements in wellbeing and effective movement while stimulating the brain to learn to form new connections on the basis of function instead of habit.
- Moderate and even gentle exercise such as a brief walk. Feldenkrais-type movements also help ease chronic pain often associated with depression and enable people to learn more functional, efficient and pleasurable ways of walking.
- Meditation, prayer and relaxation exercises such as yoga or our own Meditations in Movement.
- Fostering spiritual beliefs and a sense of purpose and sharing them with others.
- Spending time in nature and with pets. Even a potted plant or view from your office will help.
- Experiencing an ongoing environment that is free from trauma and very supportive so that the body and the brain can heal and develop.
Note that it is important to consult a healthcare practitioner or physican and never come off antidepressants without their advice.
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About the Author
Dr Bob Murray is a widely published psychologist and expert on emotional health and optimal relationships. Together with his wife and long-term collaborator Alicia Fortinberry, he is founder of the highly successful Uplift Program, and author of Raising an Optimistic Child (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and Creating Optimism (McGraw-Hill, 2004).
Disclaimer: The diagnosis and treatment of medical or psychiatric disorders requires trained professionals. The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. It should NOT be used as a substitute for seeking professional help.
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