You might read headlines in the newspaper such as “watching TV leads to depression” or “poor sleep habits linked to suicide risk” or “Justin Bieber is a train-wreck in progress”. All of these headlines are designed to grab your attention, summarize hours of research into a bite-sized piece of information (at least the first two), and lead you to a particular conclusion. While the truth of these statements is debatable, one thing they all have in common is their use of operational definitions. Operational definitions may not be the ones you find in the dictionary but they are adopted for the purpose of investigating a question, to ensure that everyone is on the same page. For example, if a researcher is interested in determining which kind of pasta is the most delicious, they must first define the terms pasta and delicious. Does pasta refer only to noodle-based dishes from Italy or does it include noodles from other regions such as Southeast Asia, India, or Japan? Should we include pasta dishes with sauce or without sauce? Should there be a limit to the ratio of sauce to pasta? How do we measure delicious? Can we objectify something as subjective as taste […]
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 […]
Validating Your Brain: The Epic Conclusion
Click here for part 1 and part 2 Up to this point, my last two posts have tried to demonstrate a few key realizations: The brain is working primarily on an unconscious level. Because of this, we are rarely as aware of what we are doing and why as we would like to believe. The brain is well-intentioned and is trying to accomplish its sole purpose, surviving the moment. Because it is focused on surviving the moment, it will make decisions that favour short-term benefits EVERY SINGLE TIME, unless we override it. Because the brain operates primarily on the level of our unconscious, it usually communicates with our conscious brain indirectly. Often, it is trying to get our attention and we are not listening to it, which leads to the perpetuation of problem behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. If we learn to really listen to our brain, it will tell us everything we need to know. The final piece of this trilogy will attempt to focus on the final point I’ve listed above. Specifically, I’m going to be demonstrating how working together with your brain, instead of fighting against it, is the surest way to mental health and a better experience […]