The compulsive nature of depression

“Given the need for control in all people to one degree or another, it is not at all surprising to discover that compulsive patterns are often related to depression. Compulsive patterns are by their very nature attempts to control anxiety, fear, doubt, and of course depression through establishing a repetitive and even ritualistic way of managing aspects of one’s experience.

Consider some common patterns of the compulsive personality. Such individuals are characterized as being highly moralistic and judgmental, excessively preoccupied with rules and protocol, and emotionally distant. Why the preoccupation with rules and judgments? The tendency to feel out of control (and thus anxious, afraid, doubtful, and depressed) is very strong if every detail of every experience that life has to offer is not covered in the rule book…When a person requires or expects others to follow his or her rules, he or she is inevitably disappointed, angry, and hurt when they do not.  When a person adheres to a rigid rule system for managing the unpredictable and often different things that are a part of life, the ability to adapt flexibility as times and rules change is underdeveloped…it is these types of rigidities  –that can get  and keep depression going…Given the  involvement of early learnings about control, power, responsibility, and other issues  central to depression it can be a useful assignment to have the client identify  his or her values that underlie the range of choices likely to be perceived by him or her.   This exercise is called “Me Mapping.” Thus the client is required  to think about the positions of each of the people that played a significant role in his or her development. The client can consciously discover how readily such positions can be identified and may likewise discover how readily  such positions can be identified and may likewise  discover that their positions are unknown. Either outcomes provides for interesting and useful discoveries. The individual who under controls  situations is the person in  the  helpless “victim” mid set. When opportunities arise in which the individual could act  in a specific way in order to favorably influence the outcome of a situation or escape a hazard, he or she does not act…The individual who over controls situations will attempt to  exert control over situations that are, in fact, beyond the range of his or her influence. For such individuals, there is a blurring of the lines between hope and  reality. The individual may know what he or she  wants and will attempt to attain it, only to become increasingly stressed and depressed as the goal slips further and further away. By interpreting the inability to attain the goal as evidence of personal failure than as having attempted to reach a goal outside the sphere of one’s influence, depression is a predictable consequence. “

SOURCE: (c) Copyright. When Living  Hurts. Michael D. Yapko.  Psychology Press. (1988 . pp.104, 105, 106. 117.

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