To enjoy means to both “take delight or pleasure in an activity or occasion” and to “possess and benefit from” something. Depression can feel like it possesses us. Unable to break through a darkness of overbearing emotion, depression contributes to an unending sense of sadness, lethargy, even anger and irritability. Finding enjoyment or motivation to enjoy anything is a challenging task.
Yet, it is enjoyment that might be one the antidotes to depression. If it has to be done forcefully as an executed task, enjoying can relieve the symptoms of depression and help the brain learn how to find pleasure again. Typical courses of treatment for depression include pharmaceutical and psychological treatment. Antidepressants and SSRI’s can help manage depression. CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as psychotherapy, can help work through the emotions of depression. Prescriptions and regular visits to both the psychiatrist and psychologist can become costly. Depending on what is the preferred enjoyed occasion, doing something that is loved is significantly more cost-effective. University of Exeter researchers discovered that it is equally effective as a treatment to these other treatment types.
Enjoyment is Depression’s Best Treatment
Behavioural activation, BA, is the term used to describe a form of therapy which encourages patients to find ways to enjoy living their lives. iNews out of the UK describes BA as finding “focus on doing meaningful activities tailored according to (patient’s’) own personal values”. This process “teaches (patients) to combat the inertia and avoidance that are characteristic of depression.”
Finding pleasurable activities is not a matter of reinventing the wheel. BA is not meant to be a soul-searching spiritual quest to find what one loves. Instead, it is a gentle approach to rediscover what one has loved before. Depression is known to interfere with a person’s most beloved activities. A man can swim everyday for twenty years, yet when depression hits, he cannot be convinced to locate his trunks. Though the process of behavioral activation, he would be encouraged to go for at least one swim, incrementally. On the first day he might just find his swim gear; the second, he may plan on the swim. The third day, he will immerse himself in water, and if he wants to begin swimming he can.
Taking actual action is a way to break through the weight of depression’s convincing thoughts. Physical action of any kind creates new memories in the brain. When the activity is enjoyable or pleasurable, it stimulates the production of dopamine, a feel good neuron in the brain. Overtime, these activities are exercised to build muscle against depression, redirecting the brain.