Are you experiencing feelings of sadness or a loss of pleasure? Do you avoid engaging with others or become irritable when you are around others? Are you sleeping too much or not enough? Are you not sure how to make things better?
If this describes you, please know that you are not alone. It’s estimated that approximately 30% of the general population suffers from depressive symptoms. Depression can make us feel and believe that we are alone and isolated. Unfortunately, the pandemic has only increased our sense of isolation.
I view depression as a warning sign that you are not living you live in alignment with your values. When we find ourselves not in alignment with our values, we can feel disappointment, guilt, and shame. We begin having thoughts that it will never be possible to re-align with our values. We begin to think the situation is hopeless and that we are failures. You see our minds excel at judging and blaming especially when we are depressed. Without realizing it we've begun to believe these judging and blaming thoughts to be true. We give up. We believe that we are worthless or unlovable and unable to make changes in our lives. We don’t believe that we have the ability or agency to become more aligned with our values.
As a result of this negative spiral of thoughts and feelings and beliefs, we feel depressed. We withdraw from our loved ones and friends. We lose connections which further our feelings of isolation.
But, WAIT! There is hope!
I can help to lead you out of depression and into your life using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). When learning how ACT can help is finding a break of sunshine in a dark forest of suffering. With the sunshine comes a greater understanding of where you are, and what has been in your way. It becomes easier to see how to navigate and how to come out into the warmth and freedom of a life directed toward your values.
There is a wealth of scientific evidence for ACT. We now know a great deal about how tangled our thoughts become and how to help people become disentangled through mindfulness. We now know a lot about how the avoidance of difficult feelings of shame, guilt, and disappointment make our experience worse and how acceptance can dampen down the war within. And we know a lot about how learning to tolerate those difficult feelings can help you get in touch with your values and begin to create a life with your moment-to-moment actions that resonate more with your deepest yearnings for meaning, wholeness, and connection with others.
Books and Articles
The ACT Workbook for Depression and Shame: Overcome Thoughts of Defectiveness and Increase Well-Being Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Depression: Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Move Through Depression and Create a Life Worth Living (2nd Edition)
Kelly has extensive knowledge and diverse experience working with and helping to improve the lives of those impacted by grief and loss. I have immense faith in her abilities to offer effective tools and empower her clients to thrive.
Jill Hogan, MS, LCPC