March 2010

netPsychologist.com Newsletter

Tools and Tips For Success With Depression.

Some of you probably have heard me say this before. A former professor of mine, very influential in my development as a professional, was fond of saying, "Enjoy your melancholy." New research from evolutionary psychologists is now pointing to an inexplicable paradox of evolution. Although depression and sadness is painful, it also brings its benefits.

What are some of these benefits from sadness and depression? Here are a few cited in a recent article in the New York Times Magazine. Sad moods are correlated with better judgment regarding the accuracy of rumors, recalling past events and being less likely to use stereotypes.

  • Depressed affect can make people think better.
  • The anatomy of focus seems to be inseparable from the anatomy of melancholy.
  • Successful works of art and depression appear to be intertwined.
  • Sad moods are correlated with better judgment regarding the accuracy of rumors, recalling past events and being less likely to use stereotypes.
  • Ruminating, often associated with depression, leads to a better focus on problem-solving and persistence.

Sadness, like happiness, has many functions. Researchers Andy Thomson and Paul Andrews are demonstrating that the depressive disorder comes with net mental benefits. They see the human mind as a machine not prone to pointless programming bugs. You can access the article on their work, titled "Depression's Upside" printed in the New York Times Magazine, February 28, 2010.

Ironic as it seems, I am happy to know there is a purpose to feeling really sad. Not only does depression give us something we're not very good at doing in this culture, which is to focus on and attend to our inner emotional needs, but essentially depression appears to be able to help us focus on and solve the dilemmas we face.

Next time you're feeling the old melancholy lurking about, rather than thinking something bad is happening and trying to avoid it, you might consider inviting the depressed feeling in. Then, have a conversation with it about how or what problem in your life it's trying to help you solve.

If that approach to your melancholy seems too scary, sit down with your counselor and see if together you can reap the benefits of feeling sad.

Another Answer To "What Is Love?"

Daniel Jones


Is Love A Feeling Or Action Or Both? love

"If I were Spock from "Star Trek," I would explain that human love is a combination of three emotions or impulses: desire, vulnerability and bravery. Desire makes one feel vulnerable, which then requires one to be brave.

Since I'm not Spock, I will tell a story.

Say you decide to adopt a baby girl in China. You receive her photo, put it on your refrigerator and gaze at it as the months pass, until finally you're halfway around the world, holding her in your arms, tears of joy streaming down your face.

But later in your hotel room, after undressing her, you discover worrisome physical signs, in particular a scar on her spine. You call the doctor, then head to the hospital for examinations and CT scans, where you are told the following: she suffered botched spinal surgery that caused nerve damage. Soon she will lose all bladder and bowel control. Oh, and she will be paralyzed for life. We're so sorry.

But the adoption agency offers you a choice: keep this damaged baby, or trade her in for a healthier one.

You don't even know about the trials yet to come, about the alarming diagnoses she'll receive back home, the terrifying seizures you'll witness. Nor do you know about the happy ending that is years off, when she comes through it all and is perfectly fine. You have to decide now. This is your test. What do you do?

If you're Elizabeth Fitzsimons, who told this story here one Mother's Day, you say: "We don't want another baby. We want our baby, the one sleeping right over there. She's our daughter."

That's love. Anyone can have it. All it requires is a little bravery. Or a lot."------------- Excerpted form Daniel Jones' great column, "Modern Love"

You can read Elizabeth Fitzsimons" story in her own words here.

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Contents of this newsletter © Paul W. Anderson, Ph.D.


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