Thursday, December 20, 2012

Book Review: "The Freedom from Depression Workbook"

In line with our December social media focus this month of “Holiday Blues: Depression at Christmas”, we will be reviewing “The Freedom from Depression Workbook” by Dr. Les Carter and Dr. Frank Minirth. This book review is written by one of our counselors, Christine Baker. She works out of our Birmingham and Tuscaloosa offices. If you would like to read more about her, click here.

                The goals of this book are to help the reader define depression and identify it in their lives, understand the mental and physical factors of depression, and develop coping skills to fight against depression in their lives. This is done through reading and response throughout this workbook. The authors identify anger, feelings of inadequacy, abuse, and grief as triggers for feelings of depression. Once they define depression in this way, they move onto how to protect yourself against it. This includes teaching the reader about healthy boundaries, possible medical interventions, suicide prevention, and more specific skills linked to the reader’s personality type. The book is based around a 12-part process to manage depression, which includes the following:

1.       Be aware of the indicators that tell you that changes are needed.
2.       Know that anger can be uncovered and choices can be made regarding its purpose.
3.       Become committed to healthy boundaries and assertions.
4.       Believe in yourself. Know your worth and value as a person.
5.       Refuse to be the perpetual victim of part of present abuse.
6.       Allow time for natural grief to run its course.
7.       Know that the best way to be in control is to resist the craving to be in control.
8.       Make allowances for painful truths.
9.       Understand how your personality can predispose you to depressive feelings.
10.   Be open-minded as you consider the medical aspects of depression.
11.   Reveal your struggles with thoughts about death. Allow others to know you thoroughly.
12.   Be committed to positive attitudes that can bring balance to your emotions.

What did you find helpful about this book?
                I thought that the fact that it was a workbook makes it very helpful for the therapist and the client. This book offers the therapists many interventions to use with clients, and offer the person reading it on their own to really make the journey through the book a personal one.

What do clients find most helpful about this book?
                My clients really enjoy the questions throughout the book because it offers them a chance to, not only receive the information, but also look at how it specifically affects their lives. My clients also like the 12-part process to managing depression because it is a good synopsis of what they learned in the book, and it is something they can easily memorize or carry with them at all times.

Favorite Quotes:
  • ·         “Let’s acknowledge that depression does not just befall weak and problem-prone people…Given the right ingredients anyone can suffer from depression.”
  • ·         “Depression is anger turned inward.”
  • ·         “A major problem encountered by depressed people is boundaries that are not respected.”
  • ·         “You may not find depression an easy problem to confront, but it does not have to be an impossible problem.”

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How Do I Grieve During the Holidays?

Q. I recently lost a loved one to cancer. I grieve everyday. When I think about the holidays, I am not sure I even want to celebrate this year. It just seems like it will be too hard. What do I do?

A. As much as you might want to ignore it, Christmas is coming. “Silver Bells” has already begun proclaiming ‘it’s Christmastime in the city’ even though it is barely November. The empty place at the annual Christmas Eve dinner has already crossed your mind many times.

Perhaps you found yourself wanting to avoid the mall the day after Thanksgiving, not because of the crowds, but because you are not ready to do any shopping. It all reminds you of one thing -- Christmas is going to be difficult this year because of the recent loss of a loved one. Although you did not have a choice in your loss, you do have some decisions about how you mourn this Christmas season.

It is important to acknowledge to yourself and those close to you that this season will not be the same as in previous years. Your life and family have been altered permanently. As you face this reality, give yourself permission to mourn this enormous loss. There is no right or wrong way to grieve this Christmas.

Remembering your loved one during the holidays can aid in your journey towards healing. Perhaps you want to tell stories (including humorous ones) about your family member as you open presents. Friends and family members may share lists of their favorite past Christmas memories with him or her. You may also choose to begin new family traditions, such as going to an earlier Christmas Eve service followed by dinner at a relative’s home.

Perhaps your friends and family were with you from the time you heard the news until you said goodbye to the last guests at the funeral. Now you long to have that same support to endure December and the winter months to come. It is important that you ask for what you need. Spend time with friends, request prayer and talk to them about your pain. On the other hand, there may be a Christmas party you send your regrets to because you don’t feel like celebrating. There is freedom in knowing and following through with what you need. However, make sure that you do not completely isolate yourself from others.

During these difficult days ask God to sustain you. Turn to the Word of God as a source of strength. Some of the Old Testament books such as Job, Psalms and Lamentations may be comforting as you work through your grief. Memorize Scripture so that it is “hidden in your heart” no matter where you are throughout your day. Keep a journal of your feelings and write out your prayers to God. You might write a letter addressed to your family member about how much you miss them this Christmas.

As you remember and grieve for your loved one this season, remember that God is able to sustain you as the Psalmist writes: “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever” (Psalm 30:12).

Additional Tips on Handling the Holidays:

1. Talk to your family and friends about your expectations for this Christmas.
2. Be sure to stay involved in church and church activities during this time.
3. Make a donation to a charity or your church in memory of your loved one.
4. Do not be afraid to cry or laugh. Do whatever you need to at that time.

*This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.

If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.