Book Review: Ask Albert Ellis? Straight Answers and Sound Advice from America’s Best-Known Psychologist
“The love and attention you always thought you wanted from someone else, is the love and attention you first need to give to yourself.”
“We need to
replace your vicious stress cycle with a vicious cycle of self care.”
– Dr. Sara Gottfried
According to the theory of REBT, depression stems from a combination of irrational beliefs, demanding too much, and self-downing in particular. Depression is more than feeling sad, unhappy, blue, or down. It can affect functionality, impair livelihood, and damage interpersonal relationships. “Depression as a syndromal disorder typically affects multiple areas of personal functioning, including behavioral, emotional, somatic, and cognitive domains” (Froiland, 2017). Although sometimes it is normal to be sad, or unhappy about a situation or because someone had done something to you, it crosses the lines to mild depression when it became the everyday normal for an extended period of time. It is perfectly okay to have low moods during moments of grief or loss or unexpected life circumstances, because repressing one’s emotions to put up a brave face is not bravery at all. Cry when you cannot hold it anymore, it only makes you human.
This Self-Help book talked about treating depression through usage of REBT Techniques such as “Unconditional self-acceptance (USA), Unconditional other-acceptance (UOA), and Unconditional life-acceptance (ULA)” (Ellis, p.61, 2003). This treatment depends on whether the depression is influenced by some ‘chemical imbalance, then treatment should incorporate antidepressant medications and psychotropic medication’ (p.62). Finally, the important thing to do as an individual suffering from depression is to ‘accept yourself and your life with your depressive moods’. “When humans think, they also feel and behave. When they feel, they think and behave; and when they behave, they think and feel” (p.6). Therefore, treatment and transformation requires interchangeable techniques that incorporate cognitive, emotive, and behavioral techniques.
Ellis also used the “ABC” Model as a technique for treating depression. For example, a depressed person has an irrational belief about hopelessness. A- I should had gotten a better grade. B- I am such a hopeless failure in life, no one really cares about me and everything seems to work against me. C- the individual is depressed as a result of what happened in A and B but the individual has the power to change the language and minimize the ‘unhealthy negative feeling’. For example, “what can I do to change the adversity at ‘A’? If I can change it, fine, but if I can’t, then I could live with it and still be a reasonably happy human” (p.6). Another technique is to “keep actively and strongly disputing your irrational beliefs” (p.9). The individual suffering from depression should constantly rebuke irrational thoughts that generate unhealthy negative feelings. Also, confronting negative thoughts by questioning their validity or evidence serves to ‘prove’ whether such assumptions are true. Sometimes, you have to ask yourself what evidence you have regarding this thought or feeling?
Nevertheless, clinical depression requires more than reading a Self-Help book and practicing recommended tips. Do not tough it out but seek help. You are not alone. We all need a shoulder to lean on more often than we would like to admit.
Next post will be on Trauma, hope you are enjoying the book review so far. Please, feel free to share your thoughts, too. Together we will be working on figuring out this thing called life. Everything in life is a process. There isn’t a one dose fix for most things in life. Abraham Maslow puts it this way “One can choose to back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”
Food For Thought
- Acceptance of Diagnosis & Self – accepting your diagnosis and self may lead to the road of understanding symptoms and how they may be contributing to your mood swings. The next step is a willingness to seek help. Remember you are not your diagnosis, and also you have more than it takes to be an overcomer.
- Regulating or Monitoring Symptoms/Moods – This will help you to record your moods and rate them from mild to intense. Daily journaling is like a trace record.
- Cognitive Restructuring – Learning and practicing how to identify negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts or less negative thoughts on your own or with the help of your therapist
- Developing Social Skills – The ability to establish and maintain interpersonal relationship. Good and healthy social skills are crucial for survival.
- LIFESTYLE MODIFICATION
- Improvement of diet – Eating healthy and maintaining a healthy diet will enhance mood stabilization. Your food affects your mood, believe it or not.
- Regular Exercise – Will also help improve moods and self-confidence – It does not matter what type of exercise you engage in, your mood is bound to change for better whenever you exercise.
- Building Health Relationships – “In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.” Dalai Lama
Ellis, A. (2003). Ask Albert Ellis: Straight answers and sound advice from Americas best known psychologist. Atascadero, CA: Impact.