Comment: Dear David and Fabrice,
Thank you for the Feeling Good podcasts!
I am 63 years old and have had mild to moderate depression since my 20s. The lowest score I ever got on the BDI in your book, Feeling Good, was 12, when I was seeing a therapist. (David comment. The BDI is the old Beck Depression Inventory, and it goes from 0 to 63. A score of 12 indicates mild depression.) Usually, my depression score was in the 21-22 range. (David comment: moderate depression.)
Four weeks ago, I was having a very bad day, and thought I’d try one of your Feeling Good podcasts. I started listening to one that was a few episodes into the series about cognitive distortions, and it was information I knew, but I thought, “this is good, I’m starting from Episode 1, called “You Feel the Way You Think.” I was in a parking lot and I started to drive and listen to Episode 1. Halfway through the episode I thought, “I don’t think I’m depressed….at all.” It was such a different feeling, like David talks about, but I never believed him.
It’s four weeks later, and I’m still not depressed. I took the BDI and scored a 1. You tell *me* what happened. I don’t know!
I am a little concerned that I don’t really know what “relapse prevention” steps I should take, but I’m taking exercise classes (a miracle in itself), working every week on my novel, and other amazing things. Whatever happened, thank you, thank you, thank you!.
Deepest respect and regards,
Thank you for your fantastic email. I really appreciate it. That is SO COOL!
I am about to fly to the east coast for three workshops, so can only give you a brief response now, but will write a more detailed blog for you on Relapse Prevention Training when I return home. Here are the high points of it, with more details later, I promise!
- You must know that we will all relapse forever. I define a relapse as one minute or more of feeling crappy. Give that definition, we all relapse all the time. No one is entitled to be happy all the time, and your negative thoughts will try to return over and over. But it does not have to be a problem if you are prepared and know what to do. In fact, bad moods are part of what makes us human, and they give us the potential for emotional (and, arguably, spiritual) growth.
- The technique that worked for you the first time will likely always work for you. Initially, when I work with some, I may have to try several techniques before I find the one that works. But after that, it is much easier, as you just use that same method or technique. For example, it might just be writing down one of your negative thoughts, pinpointing the distortions in it from my list of ten cognitive distortions, and then substituting a more positive and realistic thought, perhaps the way you might talk to a friend who was depressed and anxious.
- You need to write down the negative thoughts NOW that will almost definitely cross your mind, and every person’s mind during a relapse. they include thoughts like these:
- a. This relapse proves I’m hopeless.
- b. This relapse proves the therapy didn’t work. It was just a fluke that I got better.
- c. I didn’t even really get better, I was just fooling myself.
If you are reading this blog on social media, I appreciate it! I would like to invite you to visit my website, http://www.FeelingGood.com, as well. There you will find a wealth of free goodies, including my Feeling Good blogs, my Feeling Good Podcasts with host, Dr. Fabrice Nye, and the Ask Dr. David blogs as well, along with announcements of upcoming workshops, and resources for mental health professionals as well as patients!
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