IS DEPRESSION A MINDSET?
Depression may be a mental health issue caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Depression is more than just a bad mood; it’s a state of sadness and discontent that affects how you feel about yourself, your life, and everything around you. It may also have an impact on your thoughts, actions, and relationships with others, including family members and friends.
Depression is a serious condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is so severe that 20% of Australians will be diagnosed with a depressive disorder during their lifetime. Do you know that anyone, regardless of age, gender, or race, can be affected? Over the last decade, researchers have found it to be common in adolescents and young adults, with females being more vulnerable. There is also evidence of an increase in depressive symptoms in children since the COVID-19 pandemic.
We all experience depression; the only difference is the severity, and how we deal with it in our own unique ways and with our own nuances. Depression, on the other hand, can become a serious health problem if it is recurring and of moderate or severe intensity. It can cause a person to suffer greatly and perform poorly at work, school, and in the family. According to the World Health Organization, depression will be the single leading cause of disease burden in the world by 2030. Depression, at its worst, can lead to suicide. Every year, over 700,000 people commit suicide.
When you think of depression, it’s easy to associate the word “mindset”. Perhaps you’ve concluded that it’s a mental state. You’re not entirely wrong, as research has shown that people develop implicit mindsets that influence their ability to cope with adversity, thereby affecting their resiliency and susceptibility to depression. In the next section, we will look into the psychological concept of “mindset” in order to better understand its relationship and influence on depression.
The Mindset Concept
The relationship between mindset and depression is complicated — not only because they’re connected! While they aren’t the same thing, they do have certain similarities in terms of how they impact one another.
Your mindset is how you see yourself, others and your environment. It has a wide range of effects on your emotions, ideas, and behaviors. We all maintain a running record of what’s happening to us, what it means, and what we should do, whether we realize it or not. In other words, the continual monitoring done by our minds helps us stay on track. The question is how we interpret it. Some people may tend to be optimistic and resilient with the belief that everything will work out fine in situations they found themselves while some people put more extreme interpretations on situations. They may feel pessimistic about their situation or fearful about what could happen in the future — and then react with exaggerated feelings of anger, anxiety, sadness and/or depression. In view of this, let’s take a look at some mindset constructs identified by Dweck back in 2011:
Positive (and growth) mindset. Having a positive attitude is about seeing the world with optimism and expecting success. This is consistent with having a growth mindset, which is a way of viewing success as the result of hard work, learning, and grit (the determination to persevere in the face of adversity) and viewing obstacles as challenges that can be conquered. People with a growth mindset are strong, resilient, and strive for success when faced with challenging adversity, rather than avoiding it. Dweck argued that to cultivate a growth mindset, you need to work on having a positive mindset first. Both mindsets necessitate resilience and optimism and are frequently used interchangeably. it is a widely supported hypothesis that having a growth mindset improves emotional resilience and well-being. Numerous studies have revealed that positive emotions and a growth mindset help people build stronger coping strategies when faced with life’s challenges, which aids in the prevention of depression. Positive emotions and a sense of well-being are associated with a lower risk of depression and suicidal thoughts.
Negative mindset. Research has shown that individuals adopt implicit mindsets that inhibit their ability to cope with adversity. Such may be fixed, pessimistic, or hopeless mindsets. Having a fixed mindset underlies the belief that traits are inherent and unchangeable – that putting effort is not efficacious. Lester had studied that such a person may not even attempt a challenging endeavor out of fear of failing. Fear is generated because the person does not perceive ability as something that can be cultivated and they do not want to appear to be lacking in talent. When innate strengths and qualities are not appreciated, it typically results in pessimism and low self-worth. The person starts spiraling into darker paths.
Also, hope gives the motivation to overcome adversity. Vollmayr and Gass revealed that without hope one has a sense of helplessness and despair and does not have the desire to put forth the effort necessary for successful adaptation. Through their numerous studies over time, Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, and many other colleagues, had concluded that: fear, helplessness, defeat, despair and entrapment are implicative feelings of having a negative mindset that promotes depression and suicidal ideation.
The harsh reality is that we will eventually experience adversity and at some point fail – Life is not easy. While depression is a common experience, it isn’t something that can be fixed overnight. It takes time and effort, but luckily there are many things you can do to improve your mental health!
The first step to overcoming depression is developing a positive mindset. Once an individual is exposed to the concepts of mindset – the positives and negatives, it then becomes possible to change the mindset. This can occur with or without becoming cognizant of one’s mindset. However, according to Dweck, an awareness of one’s mindset and what may trigger a fixed mindset is paramount to the effectiveness of mindset intervention. Aronson et al. and Good et al. studied the malleability of mindset which become the foundation for Carole Dweck’s mindset intervention program in 2010.
Therapy is another option for alleviating depression. The different forms include Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Interpersonal therapy (IPT) and Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) with mindset changing being the basis of all these. Other methods of overcoming depression include medication and brain stimulation. If a mental health professional diagnoses you with major depression, they’ll most likely recommend one, or a combination, of all these treatments.
If you are suffering from depression, it can be difficult to fight the stigma and find a way out of your situation. However, The world has changed and we are now living in a society that is more open-minded towards mental health issues than ever before, which means there are more resources available than ever before! Moreover, cohorts of studies have established the link between depression and mindset – positive mindset brews attitudes that are conducive to a strong, resilient mind, while negative mindsets tend to be less resilient and more susceptible to succumbing to depression which can ultimately result in suicidal ideation.
The general conclusion is that whilst there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to dealing with depression, you can start by challenging your negative thoughts. This means looking at the evidence for and against your beliefs.