The Bright Side of Coping with Depression

This guest post is by Dan Lippmann of the Mood Switch Method.

If you could take a pill that would prevent you from ever feeling sad or depressed, would you take it?

A July 2011 Prevention Magazine article entitled, “The Surprising Silver Lining of Sadness” reports that antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed drug in America for adults under the age of 60, and that about 10% of the population is taking them at any given moment.

The bright side

image used with permission

While medication can be helpful for those with severe depression, clearly many people with milder forms of depression don’t want to experience sadness and loss, either. They just want these painful feelings to go away.

Since I spend my days teaching people how to switch their negative moods to more positive ones, people sometimes assume that my goal is for people to be happy all the time. Nothing could be further from the truth!

I’m certainly not happy all the time, nor would I want to be. Sometimes sad or down feelings are normal and even necessary. If a dear friend moves away, then it’s entirely healthy to feel sad. Or if you don’t get a job you really want, then it’s natural to feel down.

As painful as these feelings are, there are good reasons not to numb them with drugs. According to the Prevention Magazine article, coping with depression without drugs can make you emotionally healthier, improve your brain functioning, and increase your resilience.

My client Mary is a good example of how dealing with depression can have a positive outcome. After she was fired from her sales job, she became very depressed, barely leaving her house and withdrawing from friends and family.

She was so depressed that she went on medication for awhile. But the medication numbed all her emotions – the sad ones and the happy ones. She eventually decided to go off the medication, saying she’d rather feel “normal than numb.”

Depression stops you in your tracks, shuts you down, and leads you to withdraw from your regular life. While withdrawal is often perceived as a negative, there is a benefit. It gives you the time and space to focus on what’s troubling you.

During this time, Mary thought endlessly about her career. She criticized her performance, wondered what she could have done differently, and worried about ever finding another job. Although such rumination is often viewed as unhealthy and unhelpful, studies show that it often stimulates analytic reasoning and contributes to problem solving and new insights.

In Mary’s case, hours of rumination produced an amazing insight: She’d spent 20 years of her life selling products she didn’t care anything about.

Mary’s new awareness motivated her to look for more meaningful work. She eventually found a job selling equipment for children with special needs. Since Mary’s daughter had special needs, she now experienced her work as important and worthwhile.

She also acknowledged that she felt stronger for having faced her depression head on. As painful and scary as her experience was, she had learned skills for dealing with negative thoughts and handling life’s challenges.

Sometimes sadness and depression are necessary for growth. Sometimes they can change your life dramatically for the better.

Please share your experiences about dealing with depression without drugs. What insights did you gain?

Dan Lippmann, LCSW, is the director of Counseling and Wellness Innovations, with two offices near Chicago, Illinois. He is also the creator of the Mood Switch Method, an easy to learn technique that breaks the painful cycle of negative emotions such as anxiety, down moods and anger. You can download his free eBook, Beyond EFT: 7 Steps to Banish Stress, Worry, Fear and Anxiety, and sign up for blog at

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  1. Hi,

    Thank you for writing about such a difficult topic, one very few people seem to understand in my world. I am climbing back up, out of the trenches and I am not on any medications… I am just tackling problems as they arise and enjoying starting a new career. I have days that are very difficult and I don’t want to get out of bed, but blogging has changed my life. Articles like this, meeting people everyday, reading there stories having them read yours… I think this is fantastic therapy. I appreciate your blog very very much! I hope you have a wonderful day.
    Take care,

    • Lisa,
      You make a valuable point about the need to connect with others who can relate to your experience. Thankfully, the web and blogging make this easier than ever before. Keep on reading and writing. These activities have proven therapeutic power!


  2. We do a ton of stuff with creative visualization and relaxation. It allows people to replace those old tapes in their heads, “I’ll never be thin, I suck at sales, I’m not pretty,” with new more positive and effective messages. It has help tremendously with weight loss, smoking cessation, and insomnia. It is nice to be able to help people with out using a magic pill or potion.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • It sounds like you do a great job of supporting people’s emotional health. I’ve also had success with creative visualization and relaxation techniques. I agree that it’s tremendously satisfying to help people move forward without drugs.


  3. I found that engaging the support of my friends and family was the cornerstone of finding the right answers for me. I do not admit that I am done. However, I have found that overcoming the negativity with no drugs, no alcohol, and no other substance was lengthy but worth it. I guess I feel like I healed the right parts at the right time. Some of those parts re-surfaced, unfortunately, and caused expected anger. The anger was useful though to wield a better, stronger and healthier response founded in self control. It caused action to let go of those parts of my life that were troubling and no longer aided in the person that I was becoming. This is the person that I always wanted to be. Facing the truth of your ability to control yourself and not others changes you forever.

  4. AJ,
    You deserve a lot of credit for being so proactive about your emotional well-being. It’s good to hear that you have the support of your friends and family. What could be better than becoming the person you always wanted to be! Good luck as you move forward.


  5. Hi, Dan,

    I feel honored to write in support of you and your innovative ‘Mood Switch Method’.

    Your Mood Switch Method is easy to learn, but most importantly, provided instant results!

    And all without a list of ‘possible harmful side effects’ that come with prescription drugs.

    We’re all motivated by pleasure or pain. As you noted sometimes depression, or just being in a funk, can put you into a position of launching yourself into another direction, closer to where you were meant to be.

    I wrote about how adversity can propel you into renovating your Life on my blog. You can read the post here,

    Connie Lee

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