on October 24, 2008
This book and the exercises it offers may be the most effective way out of depression that I know. I am a therapist in a hospital and I work with people who have been truly overwhelmed by life and whose depression has come to dominate their world. This workbook gives a path out of the cycle of behavior and thinking that keep depressed individuals stuck. When I share the simple perspective that this book offers, my patients are so grateful to understand their depression and to get a sense that there is a manageable set of skills that they can use to make a positive impact on their lives.
on May 26, 2010
I had to write a review for this book to encourage others to give it a try. I have ordered other depression workbooks and for me this one is the most effective. Why? Because the steps you have to take aren't buried in a lot of fluff and filler, and they are very clear and actionable. It helped me to get out of my depressed state and I find myself going back to these techniques with success whenever I feel my mood starting to go down again. A definite keeper. I only wish it was available in a Kindle version, too!
on June 27, 2008
I've found this workbook absolutely fantastic. It's written in plain English, is easy to follow, and makes real sense. Has helped me realise just how unhelpful some of the things I was doing really were, and given me a new perspective on depression and how to overcome it. Much more practically helpful than other workbooks I have looked at!
on October 3, 2013
Michael Addis and Christopher Martell's "Overcoming Depression One Step At A Time" offers a behavioral approach to managing life with depression with an emphasis on guided activity that replaces ineffective coping strategies with more effective new behaviors.
Part of coping with depression involves getting to know yourself, but for Addis and Martell, getting to know yourself means focusing on certain key behavior patterns: how you act around friends and coworkers, how you spend your free time, how you approach tedious tasks, etc. Behaviors that, when changed, can have a direct effect on how you feel.
You take control by experimenting with new behaviors and seeing how they affect your mood, then practicing new behaviors until they become part of your behavioral repertoire.
Their "self-activation" method takes an "outside-in" approach, based on the theory that behavior influences mood and even brain chemistry, rather than the more commonly held opposite view that mood and brain chemistry cause behavior.
They recommend maintaining an activity monitoring chart to record the particular behaviors or activities you engage in for each hour of the day and the moods that went with each. These daily activities are the "fabric through which depression habits are woven." An activity monitoring chart can make us much more conscious of the links between our behavior and our moods and can make it easier to experiment with new behaviors and judge their iimpact on our mental state.
For every behavior that makes you feel bad, Addis and Martell write, "there is some alternative behavior that can either make you feel better or improve your life situation."
Once you have an activity and mood monitoring chart, you can choose any particular time of the week, note your situation at that time and your current behavior, then brainstorm to come up with potential alternative behaviors that can be scheduled into your week. For each situation, you can choose an alternative behavior that might have a positive effect on your mood.
Recognizing and changing avoidance and escape behavior is crucial in ending depression. Escape behavior gets you out of an unpleasant situation. Avoidance behavior involves steering clear of unpleasant situations. Depressed avoidance behaviors, like staying in bed, can make us feel temporarily safe, but in the long run will fail to improve and can even worsen our depression.
"Triggers" are the things that set off our emotional responses. Triggers can be historical or current, external, internal or interpersonal. We may try to cope with the negative feelings generated by triggers through an "avoidance pattern," a pattern of behavior such as procrastination or prolonged rumination that helps us avoid difficult feelings. If you can recognize your avoidance patterns, you can devise alternative coping strategies based on an active rather than an avoidant response to the triggers of painful emotions.
One alternative to avoidance is to allow yourself to feel what you feel, including negative feelings, while you continue to act according to particular goals you have in mind. Another alternative is "self-soothing" behavior, like enjoyable exercise or listening to music, that provides a sense of calm or gives pleasure in the midst of emotional pain. Self-sooting behavior can help you feel better temporarily without reinforcing an avoidance pattern.
It's important to break down changes in behavior into manageable steps. In breaking down tasks or challenges into their component parts, you might arrange the steps in a heirarchy according to their difficulty. You could utilize a SUDS scale, assigning a number to represent the "subjective units of discomfort (SUDS)" involved in each step. Once you've rated the steps, you can start with the easier steps first. This method is called a "graded task assignment."
Addis and Martell identify "mood dependence" as an obstacle to overcoming depressed behavior. "Being dependent on your mood means letting your mood dictate how you will behave and what goals you will pursue...An alternative is to begin and continue pursuing goals or activities, regardless of the mood you're in..."
"The idea is to feel what you feel and continue pursuing your goals. It's as if you're saying, 'I know that I am in a depressed mood right now and I'm going to continue with my plan to..."
It's unfortunate that Addis and Martell are as skeptical as they are of the role biology and biochemical imbalances play in depression and therefore minimize the potential usefulness of medication in treatment. But, all in all, "Overcoming Depression One Step At A Time" does a good job of presenting readers with some of the practical ideas behavioral psychology has to offer.
on May 20, 2016
I bought this book at my therapist's suggestion and have found it to be quite handy over time. It employs cognitive behavioral therapy methods that work well for a lot of people, including myself. You follow lessons that include activities and homework, you stick to doing each lesson on a schedule (preferably predicated by a licensed therapist), you work thru the lessons systematically. This method works!