Ok, it’s been 10 days since I finished writing the first installment of this article. I kind of knew that would happen. I knew it would happen because it’s happened so many times before. Despite this knowledge, I often feel powerless to do anything about it. Today, I’m going to address another reason why I might feel that way as well as making some suggestions that might help to overcome it. Lack of Motivation This may seem overly obvious as an explanation but motivation is much more biological (biochemical, to be specific) in nature than people realize. Wanting to do something isn’t as simple as being interested in doing it and then doing it. In order for any activity to be motivating, even those that we experience as intrinsically rewarding or intensely pleasurable, we rely on the presence of a critical neurochemical known as dopamine. Dopamine has many functions, depending on where in the brain and body it is being used. It is a pleasure chemical (stimulants increase dopamine levels, as does sexual activity). It also provides physical energy. It is implicated in control of fine and gross motor control (Parkinson’s patients don’t have enough dopamine in the part of […]
Three Kinds of Procrastination and What to Do About Them: Part 2
Three Kinds of Procrastination and What to Do About Them: Part 1
The idea for this article came to me some time ago. I cannot say how long specifically because I’ve avoided writing or thinking about it as much as possible, so the timeline has become a bit fuzzy. This isn’t because I think this subject is boring, or useless, or unoriginal, or any of those reasons. I have been procrastinating, something that I am especially adept at. If they ever make procrastination an Olympic sport, I will win the gold medal for sure, as long as I got around to registering for the competition. I know that I procrastinate. Everyone who knows me reasonably well also knows this about me. Many of my clients know this about me. It’s one of the reasons that I don’t let it bother me when other people procrastinate. Given my familiarity with procrastination, the question that must be asked is not regarding how I procrastinate, it is regarding the reasons why I do so. The word procrastinate, according to its Latin roots, means quite literally to “put off until tomorrow”. Wow, that means that even by procrastination standards, I’m an over-achiever. I’ve been putting some things off for years! I procrastinated throughout school, from early […]
So, What CAN I Say to Someone Suffering from Depression?
I got a lot of feedback about my previous post on what not to say to a depressed person. I, myself, realized, after I finished writing, that my list seemed to eliminate most of the seemingly helpful things people actually say to depressed people, along with some of the more useless pieces of advice. So, have I thrown the baby out with the bathwater? I don’t think so, but let me explain. The purpose of the list was to describe, for people who don’t suffer from depression, what the mind can do to even objectively harmless and pro-social encouragement when it is weighed down under a cloud of darkness. The most positive and encouraging sentiments are quickly corroded in the acid bath of negativity, rendering them unhelpful at best and harmful at worst. This naturally leads to the question, “So, if I can’t even tell them that I love them, what can I say to them?” Check out this list of suggestions: 1. That must feel terrible… I’ve written before about the importance of validation, especially when it comes to getting someone to listen to your perspective. Much of the usual feedback given to depressed people is intended to be […]
10 Things Not to Say to Someone Suffering From Depression
Depression is no joke. Which is ironic, given how many people mask it with humor, as the recent case of Robin Williams sadly demonstrates. I find it sadly amusing how many experts there are out there when it comes to dealing with the complex interplay between, society, psychology, and our internal biochemistry. Most of these experts are more than willing to share their homespun advice for the rest of us but the reality is that when it comes to helping someone who suffers from major depressive disorder, it’s rarely that simple. For example, try to avoid these common well-intentioned, yet potentially harmful pieces of wisdom: 1. Cheer up This is not useful advice. It’s like telling a sick person to be healthy. If that were possible, they wouldn’t be sick in the first place. Also, you don’t know the reasons behind the depression. Someone once tried to encourage a client of mine to smile more, seeing only their downcast face and negative body language. What they didn’t realize is that this person’s child had just committed suicide. “Cheer up” is an imperative that no one has the right to issue. 2. You Just Need to Find a Hobby To quote […]