Out of the blue: Six non-medication strategies for relieving depression by Bill O’Hanlon A reflection of the above lecture by Chris Kallevag - PSY86502 – Extra Credit Bill O’Hanlon talked about six different ways of easing depression. In this summery of his master lecture I’ll reflect on each of the six strategies. He begun by telling that he had first hand experience with depression. During his college years he sank deeper and deeper into a melancholic state and decided to end his life. Luckily a friend told him to wait. The first strategy he called Marbling, marbling is the white fat in meat which gives it it’s flavor. O’Hanlon said, it is away for people to have a complete view of their experience. A therapy session could go back and forth. How does a typical day looks like in Depresso-Land? How does a typical day looks like in Non-Depresso-Land? He lets the clients makes maps about the two different ways of life. O’Hanlon emphasised the importance not to exclusively talk about the depression, that could increase the problems. One of the homework exercises he gives depressed clients is: Recall and write down three good things that happened each day for fifteen days. Second on his list was Undoing Depression, the importance of pattern intervention, identify patterns, locations, people, activities. What sets of /deepen the blue mod? What to do differently? He described depression like a bad trance which needs to be interrupted. O’Hanlon also uses humor in his therapy and could ask clients: How do you do depression? Number three: Shifting relationship to depression, Mindfulness: notice without judging. Be aware of the variations in sensations, thoughts, and experiences around depression. Externalize the depression with techniques from Narrative therapy. Help people to separate depression from their identity. Furthermore, O’Hanlon advised to value depression, stop resisting it to reduce the suffering. Fourth was Challenging Isolation, according O’Hanlon depression invites people to isolation and disconnection. He talked about the importance of connections to avoid depression and relief symptoms. There are seven pathways to connection: body (physical), another being (person, dog, cat), others (group and community), art, nature, and a bigger meaning/purpose. I personally think this is paramount for all people and especially for depressed individuals or the once who know they have a tendency to become blue. Fifth, A Future with Possibilities, O’Hanlon focus his psychotherapy on the future and not on the past and present like many therapists do. If we can restore hope, we can can live in the present for a better future. Last on O’Hanlon’s list but not the least is Restoring Brain Growth, O’Hanlon talked about neurogenesis which is the birth of new brain cells. It takes place in the hippocampus of the brain. The depressed brain supresses the production of new brain cells. There are different ways to increase the generation. The ones that seem to work really well is; exercise, playing a musical instrument and learning a new language. The best kind of exercise is aerobic and high intensity seems to be most beneficial. I personally guess this has to do with higher heart rate which increases the blood flow to the brain. Scans of musicians’ brains show that their hippocampus area is considerable bigger than on an average person. I think it would be interesting to conduct a research study with the hypothesis: 80-year-olds long time musicians have lower prevalence of Alzheimer’s than the average population. And a similar study with 80-year-olds who have exercised for many years. I enjoyed Bill O’Hanlon’s lecture and I will benefit from it both professionally and personally. He suggested to take depressed clients out for a walking session instead of sitting in the office. To have the counseling session while moving is a terrific idea and we as counselors would benefit from it as well, in twofold: We get to move around with the client and it breaks the monotony to just sit in the office. It’s thinking outside the box. Could we also take our clients to a nice view point and enjoy the calming affect of the sea while we talk, or a peaceful forest? I would say, why not? So long as we think what would be in the best interest of our client in mind.
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