Category: Depression

Turning negatives into positives

Through the years, songwriters have written about how important it is to avoid negative thinking and focus on the positive. As emulated in popular songs from previous times such as: “Accentuate the Positive”, ”Sunny Side of the Street”, and “Put on a Happy Face”, to more recent songs such as: Pharell Williams’ “Happy”, and Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off”, no one appears immune to having negative thoughts and experiencing feelings of the blues. The question of nature vs. nurture can be debated as to why some people always tend to go to a negative thought first; however, it is more important to focus on ways to become a more positive thinker than it is to figure out why. And for those that will argue that negative thinking has been a part of their life for as long as they can remember, please know that the more you practice positive thinking the more habitual and natural it will become. Here are some tips to help in becoming a more positive thinker:

  • Start by writing down the recurring negative thoughts you have.
  • Challenge those thoughts with at least one positive statement, Make the effort to add to this list even if you do not believe it will happen or apply to you.
  • Visualize positive things replacing the “not so positive thoughts you are having”.
  • Be mindful of your thoughts before you act on them. Try to act on the positive thought you are having. Some people think negatively as a way of avoiding disappointment, believing if they do not have positive expectations they will not be let down. Others may be in a frame of mind where they have to search for positives, and unless someone prods them they can’t think of any positives. Focus! Focus! Focus!
  • Try to step outside of yourself and act as if you were going to be making these choices for people you care about. Would you still be focusing on the “what ifs”, the “I cant’s” and the “never will happen to me” syndrome?
  • Do some yoga, meditation and/or some physical exercise. Endorphins are real and need to be released. Releasing these endorphins WILL make you feel better.
  • Make a play list of every positive song you can think of or research positive songs and put them on your playlist to listen to when you start feeling negative.

Remember that practice makes perfect. Just like brushing your teeth becomes second nature, so will going to a positive place with your thoughts. If you find that all your effort is not making a difference, it may be time to think about getting more professional assistance. Medication may also be an option. It may help get you past the depression you may be experiencing as a result of long-term negative thinking.

We feel what we think and we act as we feel. No one likes to be negative all the time. A professional can help.

Early childhood depression alters brain development @MNT_psychology

The brains of children who suffer clinical depression as preschoolers develop abnormally, compared with the brains of preschoolers unaffected by the disorder, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Their gray matter – tissue that connects brain cells and carries signals between those cells and is involved in seeing, hearing, memory, decision-making and emotion – is lower in volume and thinner in the cortex, a part of the brain important in the processing of emotions. The new study is published Dec. 16 in JAMA Psychiatry. “What is noteworthy about these findings is that we are able to see how a life experience – such as an episode of depression – can change the brain’s anatomy,” said first author Joan L. Luby, MD, whose research established that children as young as 3 can experience depression. “Traditionally, we have thought about the brain as an organ that develops in a predetermined way, but our research is showing that actual experience – including negative moods, exposure to poverty, and a lack of parental support and nurturing – have a material impact on brain growth and development.” The findings may help explain why children and others who are depressed have difficulty regulating their moods and emotions. The research builds on earlier work by Luby’s group that detailed other differences in the brains of depressed children. Luby, the Samuel and
Mae S. Ludwig Professor of Child Psychiatry, and her team studied 193 children, 90 of whom had been
diagnosed with depression as preschoolers. They performed clinical evaluations on the children several times as they aged. The researchers also conducted MRI scans at three points in time as each child got older. The first scans were performed when the kids were ages 6 to 8, and the final scans were taken when they were ages 12 to 15. A total of 116 children in the study received all three brain scans. “If we had only scanned them at one age or stage, we wouldn’t know whether these effects simply were present from birth or reflected an actual change in brain development,” said co-investigator Deanna M. Barch, PhD, head of Washington University’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in Arts & Sciences. “By scanning them multiple times, we were able to see that the changes reflect an actual difference in brain maturation that emerges over the course of development.” The gray matter is made up mainly of neurons, along with axons that extend from brain cells to carry signals. The gray matter processes information, and as children get older, they develop more of it. Beginning around puberty, the amount of gray matter begins to decline as communication between neurons gets more efficient and redundant processes are eliminated. “Gray matter development follows an inverted Ushaped
curve,” Luby said. “As children develop normally, they get more and more gray matter until puberty,
but then a process called pruning begins, and unnecessary cells die off. But our study showed a much steeper drop-off, possibly due to pruning, in the kids who had been depressed than in healthy children.”


Holidays can be joyous festive occasions; but they aren’t necessarily so for everyone. While you are enjoying yours, be mindful of those whose lives have been touched by tremendous loss, grief and loneliness. Holiday time reminds some of just how much they miss the people who are not in their lives or how little they may have, instead of focusing on the things that are present.

There are extremes, those who have no worries, and share their joy and generosity and then those who ‘just get by.” However, what about all those that fall between the two; and, while they are functioning in the workplace and community they may be alone, unhappy and searching.

Here are some things to consider:

1. If you find that you will be alone for the holiday, seek out an activity that falls on the day you celebrate. Visit someone in a nursing home, volunteer at a local shelter, go to a service of some type, or visit a park, beach or even a coffee shop. There are always other people around that will provide you some conversation, a smile or a pleasant interaction.
2. Holiday time is also a good time to think about reaching out to those you have lost contact with from your past to consider rebuilding a hurt friendship.
3. If someone has experienced a recent loss, send a card and include a special thought for a difficult time. If you all celebrate together, it’s okay to talk about the loved one as doing so may bring you closer. Sometimes making a favorite meal or treat that person loved, singing a favorite song or playing their favorite music can be comforting as well.
4. Do something that gets you out of the house even if it is for a brief period of time. It may be to walk around the block, sitting in a chair outside or talking to a neighbor.
5. Think about what changes you need or want to make in your life. Reach out to someone close to discuss this. If there is no one, think about finding someone who can be objective and offer guidance.
6. Remember holidays pass and whatever the stress, distress or upset you may be experiencing, it should dissipate once the holidays pass.
7. If holidays are always stressful, this may be a good time to think about how you want it to be different next year. Make a commitment to make changes.
8. If you are alone, know that there are others just like you. There are many support groups, organizations and other resources that can help. One of the greatest holiday gifts you can give is that of friendship and support to others. Helping others can sometimes be as meaningful to us as it is to others.
9. Writing and setting New Year goals can help catapult you forward to the next year.
10. Stay focused on the positives in your life, the positives you want to have happen and most importantly the positives you can make happen.

Best wishes and Happy New Year to all.