Dr. Alfred Adler’s Prescription For Depression

“Years ago, Dr. Alfred Adler prescribed this remedy for depression to a patient.  “You can be helped if every day you begin the first thing in the morning to consider how you can bring joy to someone else. If you can stick to this for two weeks, you will no longer need therapy.”

Adler’s “prescription” of  course  is not much different than the suggestion that we work more intensively the program’s Twelve Steps to rid ourselves of depression. When I am depressed do I keep my feelings to myself or do I do what friends in the program have suggested that I do?” Source: A Day at a Time. 1976.Sept 10.


I like Adler’s “prescription” as a real concrete and positive aid in being mindful of the needs of others. In a Twelve Step meeting we find ourselves in the midst of a group of people, some who are newcomers, some who  have been in the group for a period of time and others who have gone through all the Steps, one after another. That’s the beauty of the 12 Step program of recovery. The Twelfth Step tells us that ” Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we   tried to carry this message to the depressed, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.”

One of the instances for me personally of putting  the prescription of Dr. Adler into practice and  before  I  leave for work , is to ask God to lead me to that person who needs a loving presence the most. I happen to work in a long term care facility and because of a person’s different stage of their dementia, just to be a silent presence can  give a  person comfort.

But if we stay holed up in the isolation of life deadening thoughts all we can reflect upon is our own pain, much less the pain of anyone else. So, get the picture?  Reach out to someone else; leave the prison of our isolating and negative ruminations; connect with another human being and give ourselves someone to think about other than ourselves. Who knows, maybe we will come away from our encounter the other and be grateful  of what we can still do that has a positive effect on another’s life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.