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Depression has us in its grip. One in five people suffering from it is pretty serious, but worse is that social attitudes to depression are so helpless. (see Depression’s a Bugger)

This is ironic, since the learned helplessness model developed by Martin Seligman and colleagues in the 1970s has been so influential in our understanding of depression (and subsequently contributed to developing the cognitive behavioural treatments for it).

We are not helpless in the face of depression. If you suffer with it you may well feel that you are, that’s part of the syndrome. One way to break free is to learn your way out of it. That takes patience, persistence and a sense of purpose. And it helps to be among people who aren’t depressed (though that can be pretty annoying if you are feeling down, I guess).

If society is responded to the rise in depression with helplessness, then society has bought into precisely the thinking styles that contribute to depression in the first place. Rather than helping depression sufferers, we are adding to the weight of negative belief that contributes to helplessness, and perpetuating the cycle.

 

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