Skill Prescriptions for Depression


Examine Your Thought Habits

Sometimes we get into bad thought habits of assuming the worst, being suspicious of others and guessing at what other people are thinking about us. Take some time to examine your thought patterns when you are sad. Are you telling yourself things about the situation that might not be true? Can you prove that they are true? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a kind of counseling that teaches you to examine these thought patterns that lead to undesired behaviors and can help you learn to form better thought habits. If you struggle with frequent anger, consider counseling. Ask potential counselors whether they can teach you these techniques.


In Positive Psychology, a common treatment of depression is the use of gratitude.  One common skill is the start a Gratitude Journal.  Every night, you are asked to write three things that you are grateful for which you have not listed before.  This encourages you to be on the look out for the good things in your life and has been shown to improve mood and increase quality of life.

Another version is the write a letter to someone telling the person why you appreciate him or her.  Then you read the letter to the person, preferably face-to-face.  This practice not only improves the writer’s mood but also the person who receives the letter.

Decrease Isolation

Attend new classes. Join church groups or support groups.  One of the main symptoms of depression is social isolation.  Seeking out the company of people who are kind and supportive can also decrease depression.  Also, a key factor of depression is distorted and overly negative thoughts.  It is good to check those thoughts out with other people.


Service to others has been shown to improve mood in individuals with depression.  Not only does serving others decrease social isolation but it also increases self worth and can improve perspective.

Letting Go of Resentment

In Zen Shorts by John J. Muth, a giant panda named Stillwater tells stories that teach respect and patience. in one story, a young monk and an older monk are walking together. They come across a woman who is very angry because she is stuck in her carriage because the ground is covered in mud. She is yelling and carrying on as her servants stand helplessly, overloaded with her possessions. The older monk approaches the woman and hefts her onto his back and carries her across the mud. As he places her gently down, she storms on her way without saying thank you.

The two monks continue on their way. After a while, the elder monk notices that the young monk is very upset. When he asks his young friend why he is angry, the young monk responds, “You carried that angry woman across the mud and she did not even say thank you.”

The elder monk smiles and says, “I laid that woman down miles ago. Why are you still carrying her?” How many times in life are you still carrying that grumpy woman miles later? How many times do you hold grudges and stay angry long after you should? It’s time to let go of that resentment. I have heard people say that resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die. They won’t, but you might. Resentment is poisonous and it can make you very sick and unhappy. Go ahead and lay that woman down.

News and Media Fasts

The news of the day is often presented in a violent and disturbing way. Even the shows and movies we watch for entertainment are often violent. If you struggle with depression, consider taking a few weeks off from all news and violent programming. You may find that this helps you to feel happier and less depressed.

Let the Music Play

Music is known to have a direct link to the pleasure sensors of the brain.  Think about what kind of music you are listening to.  Surround yourself with music with a positive and inspiring message.

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