~ Article written by L. Michael Hall PhD ~
Given that a lot of things are called “depression,” which are not clinically depression, how can you tell? A good way to begin is to use the work of Dr. David D. Burns and his classic, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (1980). What Burns did in that book was to make exceptionally practical the theoretic work of Dr. Aaron T. Beck one of the founders of the cognitive psychotherapy. His thesis was simple:
“When you are depressed, you are thinking in an illogical, negative manner and you inadvertently act in a self-defeating way. Yet you can train yourself to straighten your twisted thought patterns.” (Burn, p. 3)
He also utilized the Beck Depression Inventory (page 20-21), a list of 21 items to help with a basic diagnosis. For decades this Cognitive Psychology approach has been the most successful approach regarding depression and anxiety. Immediately following the inventory is chapter 3, You Feel the Way You Think, and a list of 10 Cognitive Distortions. That’s because the more cognitive distortions one uses in thinking to understand oneself, others, and the world, the more misery you create for yourself, and the more likely you are to create depression.
What are these cognitive distortions that are so destructive and that create the dysfunctional state of depression?

The following distortions are all expressions of uncritical thinking:

All-or-Nothing thinking, over-generalization, negative mental filter, disqualifying the positive (discounting), jumping to conclusions (mind-reading), magnification and minimization (distortion), emotional reasoning, using “should” statements (demanding), labeling (confusing map and territory), and personalizing.
Once you have looked at the signs of depression, you can then use the NLP Communication Model and ask a lot of probing questions. Begin with modeling questions in order to explore the experience itself, what it entails, what the person is referring to, and how he is creating his experience.
How do you know to call what you’re feeling depression?
How do you create this state? What is your internal strategy?
What’s playing on the theater of your mind- what images, sounds, sensations?
What are the qualities of the cinematic features of this movie?
What is the triggering event to which you are responding?
When did the depression start? When is it worse? When is it better?
What is it like on the inside to be or feel “depressed?”
What are you pushing down in your experience of depression?
“Every bad feeling you have is the result of your distorted negative thinking, illogical pessimistic attitudes play the central role in the development and continuation of all your symptoms. Intense negative thinking always accompanies a depressive episode. …

The first major key to understanding your moods:

Your emotions result entirely from the way you look at things. It is an obvious neurological fact that before you can experience any event, you must process it with your mind and give it meaning. (Burns, 1980, p. 29).
When you are depressed, you possess the remarkable ability to believe, and to get the people around you to believe, things which have no basis in reality. The Cognitive Distortions.” (p. 31-41).
These questions help us to understand many of the variables within the experience and how any given person creates and maintains a depressed state.
Yet there’s more to it.
Using the Meta-States Model, we ask additional questions-meta-questions- that allow us to explore the matrix of frames as meta-states that construct and hold the depression in place.

What meanings are you giving to the triggering event that leads you to not only feel appropriately sad, but to push down your energies?

Do you like feeling depressed?
What are some of the positive values and benefits that you get from this experience?
What does it mean to you that you’re experiencing depression?
How do you feel or think about this state?
What are the thinking patterns that drive or amplify or support this state?
What do you believe about X to which you are responding with depression?
In the first case, NLP enables us to recognize that the depressive person is running a depressive movie and passively experiencing the movie as it drones on and on. In the second, Meta-States enables us to recognize the difference between sadness and depression. Sadness is a primary state emotion, a feeling of sadness, which when appropriate due to some loss, is healing and appropriate. But sadness about our sadness might create the more complex state of depression. Yet there are other configurations.
Anger at self for being imperfect might create depression. Freud said depression was “anger turned inward.”
Intolerance of disappointment might be another structure for feeling depressed.
Rejection of self for failing at a business, relationship, or whatever.
Now for the good news. Sadness is normal, if discouragement is normal, if other so-called “negative” emotions are normal, they are just human emotions. And if appropriate to the context and to one’s mental model, then they help us deal with reality, make adjustments, and get back on track.
Depression, however, is not normal. It is a misuse of your powers- especially your cognitive and emotional powers and it solves nothing. And there’s good news about that. After all, if you created that experience, you can uncreate it. You can identify what you are doing to create it and learn a better way. You can meta-state things in a much more productive
Acceptance of being fallible and making mistakes.
Curiously learning about the mistakes and correcting them.
Forgiving yourself and releasing the past so you can resiliently move forward.
Do you want to talk to a specialist where you can see how you are using the word depression? Connect with us now

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