Q&A with Dr. Dorothy: Your tough questions answered
Dorothy Ratusny is a Certified Psychotherapist specializing in Cognitive Therapy. Send your ‘Getting Deep’ questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the summer, I really struggled with what I thought was depression. And it hasn’t changed any now that school has started again. My life isn’t horrible – it’s not great either – but I can’t seem to pull myself out of this dark mood. I know that I usually have a bunch of things that I worry about a lot (I guess that’s why my nails keep getting chewed down), and my mom says I just need to relax – easier said than done. How do I know if it’s really depression or just some sort of funk? Is there anything I can do that will help?
There are a lot of reasons why people might feel depressed. In many cases, depression is situational— based on several current and pre-existing factors. Take a look at your specific worries and what you are telling yourself. Are you worrying about things that haven’t happened (and may never happen)? If you can create new thoughts based on what is actually true instead of what you think might happen, it will help you to feel better. This idea is based on the principles of cognitive therapy. One of the basic premises of cognitive therapy is that your thoughts (what you say to yourself) determine your mood state.
To take a preliminary assessment to see if you are experiencing situational depression, check out:
Here’s an article on summer depression, you may find it helpful:
I’ve signed up for all these advanced business courses for the next semester. I do really well in these classes, but there is one problem: I don’t want to go into business! I let my parents, who are both accountants, pretty much dictate my schedule for this year, and now I ‘m regretting it. I would really rather explore other options in my last year of high school. How do I let them down softly?
Being true to yourself is one of the most important life lessons. Consider what courses would be most interesting to you for the upcoming semester and share your decision with your parents. Making decisions and trusting those decisions is what helps us become autonomous and independent in the world.
One of my closest friends, who should be in university with me right now, decided last minute to transfer schools just to be closer to her boyfriend. I think she is making the biggest mistake of her life, but how do you tell someone that without sounding totally judgmental?
If you want to share your opinion with your close friend, you may want to point out all of the reasons why she initially chose the same university that you did. You can let her know your true feelings about how her decision may impact you, but do your best to stay supportive. My experience working with clients who have transferred to a different university to be with a boyfriend/girlfriend has been that for the majority of cases, they end up regretting their decision. Even though you disagree with your friend’s choice, she’s ultimately the one who’s going to have to figure it out for herself.
For more on Dorothy check out www.dorothyratusny.com