The Antidepressant without Side Effects

antidepressantMedications for depression can be life saving, but for many people they have disturbing side effects. But there is one antidepressant that doesn’t have side effects – behavioral activation (BA). Behavioral activation is a treatment that has been shown to work for people with moderate and even severe depression and, in some studies, it works about as well as antidepressants.

Often people get depressed because of life events that they have little control over (losing a job, getting sick, etcetera). However, much of what keeps you depressed afterwards are the patterns of behavior that develop as you become increasingly motivated by wanting to avoid possible pain and disappointment. In other words, something bad happens, it is very upsetting, you feel discouraged and you start being motivated more by avoiding another bad experience (avoidance) than by seeking positive experiences (proactive behavior).

The trouble with just focusing on avoidance is that we can’t prevent every negative event. As we focus more and more on trying to avoid negative events we tend to get discouraged because bad things keep happening. This was also true before we got depressed, but then the bad things were balanced by good things, and we were focused more on trying to get more good things to happen and so we passed over the bad.

Behavioral activation says that the antidote to depression is to change what we do so that we seek more positive experiences (healthy pleasures) that not only feel good but help us to build up our strength and energy. Examples of healthy pleasures include spending time with friends, outdoor physical activities, hobbies, etcetera. As we do more of these we refocus our attention on more than just the negative, and become more motivated to make positive change. See our discussion about tacking for more about getting going as a strategy for depression. And take a look at this list of healthy pleasures … Pleasant Events Schedule

This workbook is a very good way to get started… Have fun!