Positive Psychology and Depression

What is Positive Psychology?

positive psychology, positive perception, positive perspective

     The psychologists, Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, are credited as the creators of the positive psychology movement.  They defined positive perspective psychology as the scientific study of positive human functioning and flourishing on multiple levels, which can include biological processes, cognitive processes, relationships, and connections to one’s cultural identity, to meaningful social institutions, and even to global causes.  The field of psychology has historically used a “disease model,” an approach which focuses on identifying what is “wrong” with people.  The positive perspective psychology was developed to focus on an individual’s strengths and capacity for change, as opposed to one’s weaknesses.  The main motivation behind this approach was to reframe the traditional focus on mental health “problems.”  Rather than trying to “fix what is wrong or damaged” with people, positive psychology interventions aim to cultivate innate human strengths, such as resilience, joy, and meaning in life to develop a positive perspective.  Those who are not familiar with the field of positive psychology may oversimplify it as “positive thinking.”  However, while optimism is certainly relevant to positive psychology, it is only one concept of many under the broad umbrella of positive psychology. Keep reading for interventions to develop a positive perception in depression applicable to other disorders as well.

How Can Positive Psychology Decrease Depressive Symptoms?

positive psychology, positive perception, positive perspective

     Positive psychology interventions have been effectively used as a supplemental therapy for depression.  If you are experiencing depression, you may choose an antidepressant medication regimen and may also require trauma therapy or grief therapy.  However, positive psychology interventions can play an important role in treating the depressive symptoms of low motivation, low energy, a negative self-image, lack of meaning, and little sense of fulfillment during daily activities. These interventions can counteract your negative thought patterns by building up your “mental assets.”  Positive psychology interventions aim to help you develop and maintain a more structured, daily schedule of work, academic, and recreational activities.  The following are other goals of positive psychology: (1) reducing negative thought patterns, (2) learning how to identify more realistic self-expectations, (3) increasing your optimistic thoughts, (4) practicing mindful and focused behaviors, (5) maintaining positive relationships, (6) avoiding unhealthy people, and (7) replacing your negative thoughts with positive mantras.    

     Positive psychology interventions can also decrease your depressive symptoms by helping you to increase your sense of learned optimism.  Learned optimism occurs when you commit to a structured daily schedule of meaningful activities which keep you present-focused and hopeful.  You are what you think.  Your perceptions about YOU will always affect your relationships, behaviors, career or academic choices, life goals, and emotional states.  Your thoughts can create immense joy, strength, hope, and compassion, or they can create sadness, anger, resentment, insecurity, and guilt.  Positive perceptions and expectations can lead to positive results, and negative perceptions and expectations can often create very damaging results. 

Positive Psychology Interventions

depressive symptoms positive psychology interventions traumatic experiences

      Strength-building interventions can help you to clarify and to tap into your internal values and capacities.  These interventions teach you how to be mindful of each moment, so that you can determine when you are being triggered by negative memories or situations and can utilize your new coping skills for bringing your positive perceptions and self back to the present.  These interventions have been effective in improving self-confidence and overall well-being.

     Meaning-oriented interventions can help you to identify and to actively pursue your goals.  For instance, the “Imagine Yourself’ test requires the participants to write down a summary of where they see themselves in the future, with the assumption that they are satisfied and strong.  Another meaning-oriented intervention is exploring different courses of action and eliminating the dysfunctional actions which you may be using.  After doing this, you will feel empowered to achieve your goals, to fulfill your true purposes in life, and to connect in a more assertive manner with others.  Most importantly, meaning-oriented interventions help you in setting realistic expectations and envisioning yourself as a new and different person who is strong and resilient in any circumstances. 

     Empathy-oriented interventions focus on strengthening positive emotions in interpersonal relationships.  When you have true empathy for others, you will find that you communicate in a more productive and calm manner in both personal and professional relationships.  Empathy-oriented interventions focus on building relationships through effective communication, open-minded perceptions, and bridging the gap between yourself and others.  The core principle behind empathy-oriented interventions is to understand others’ perspectives and to build strong connections to them.  Strong connections with friends, family members, and other emotionally significant individuals are essential to your well-being.  In fact, focusing on love, support, and intimacy within these relationships is a critical component of positive psychology.

Positive Psychology = A Positive Action Plan

     I believe that the most valuable aspect of the positive perspective psychology is its focus on POSITIVE ACTIONS, specifically engagement and accomplishments.  Most people are happiest when they have inspiring and joyful engagement with the world around them.  Increasing engagement levels and time spent on engaging activities has been found to improve overall life satisfaction.  Positive psychologists also encourage self-reflection journaling as a way to purge negative thoughts and emotions and to “brainstorm” ways to create and maintain current levels of well-being.  When you keep a daily record of your accomplishments, you can see your progress and acknowledge your skills and strengths.  You can also keep a record of your areas for improvement and the actions needed for this improvement.  

     Positive psychology is NOT about ignoring present conflicts and stressors or denying past traumas.  You DO confront your insecurities, fears, and disturbing emotions.  However, positive psychology interventions help you to transform your self-doubts into specific actions for managing your triggers.  Furthermore, these interventions guide you through an introspective process during which you are stepping into the unknown while continuing to move forward, embracing all emotions and thoughts which arise.  Thoughts which create negative emotions, such as shame, regret, guilt, inadequacy, disappointment, anger, frustration, and fear can be reframed into more rational, empowering, and managed thoughts, for a positive perspective.  You can do this simply by acknowledging all of your thoughts and emotions as real and valid but also as often counterproductive to completing daily tasks, wasteful of your daily mental energy, and damaging to your interpersonal and work relationships. 

     In sum, positive psychology is about developing and maintaining the following characteristics which help you to live as your true higher self: hope, wisdom, creativity, future-mindedness, courage, spirituality, gain a positive perception, and personal responsibility.  Positive psychology interventions require motivation and effort, but the result is bringing out your true higher self and keeping it available for use in your relationships and maintenance of your life purpose.  Your perceptions create your reality, and the positive psychology approach can greatly help you to recreate your perceptions.

Keep reading to learn about Imposter Syndrome and ADHD.  

Accepting your past self-reflection survivor of trauma

New Age Psychiatry

         New Age Psychiatry offers licensed and certified psychiatric services through virtual telehealth appointments within the state of Florida. We understand the complexities that come with mental health disorders and symptoms, and we will work hard to help you manage your condition.

         New Age Psychiatry is a modern mental health service in Florida that approaches addiction and other mental health issues with compassion and forward-thinking techniques. New Age Psychiatry offers certified psychiatric services through telehealth appointments in Florida. Some of the highlights of the New Age Psychiatry approach include:

  • Online Screening – We will begin with certified online screening to provide an overview of psychiatric care. We also offer a personalized, specific diagnosis through our psychiatric Telehealth services.
  • Diagnosis, Recovery, & Treatment – Our full range of comprehensive psychiatric telehealth services can aid in treating a multitude of psychiatric illnesses and assist in the recovery process in alcoholism.
  • Telehealth Services – Our psychiatric telehealth services are available throughout the state of Florida and can assist you in psychiatric care through counseling and medication management

Contact us on the web for a virtual appointment. If you prefer to use email, you can reach us at info@newagepsychiatry.com or call us today at (877) 769-5206 for more information.