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Change Your Life!: Hope & Healing for Anxiety and Depression

Change Your Life!: Hope & Healing for Anxiety and Depression

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Change Your Life!: Hope & Healing for Anxiety and Depression

218 pagine
3 ore
Mar 7, 2011


Change Your Life! is about the power you have to use your mind, your body and your desire for a better life to beat anxiety and depression and change anything in your life for the better. It provides a range of easy-to-apply tools and techniques whilst also providing real-life examples of how the author and his hundreds of clients have used these same techniques to make positive, measurable changes in their lives.

Change Your Life! covers some of the most useful and proven techniques in psychology today including cognitive behavioural therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, meditation and mindfulness which are all incredibly effective and proven in helping people who are anxious or depressed, or even for those who simply want to feel better about themselves and their lives. In this book you will learn how to regain control of your emotions and your life in a sustainable and practical way.

Change your Life! will provide you with tools and techniques that you can immediately put into action, including how to: challenge your negative and faulty thinking; think about and use the benefits of exercise; do simple meditation and why it is so effective; cope with change and negative emotions; remember to praise yourself; develop meaningful and powerful goals; keep yourself focused and stay committed to your new way of life!

With over fifteen years of personal experience, as well as extensive experience coaching and counselling others, author and psychologist, David Fox has gathered and distilled the best tools and techniques for beating anxiety and depression and creating lasting, positive change in your life.

Mar 7, 2011

Informazioni sull'autore

David Fox is a registered psychologist with a master’s degree in psychology. In January 2000, just as he was completing his master’s thesis, David suffered from a panic attack and subsequently went into a depression for a few months. This painful experience and subsequent personal experiences have helped him gain some real insight into what people go through when in an anxious or depressive state and he thus knows what works and how to achieve recovery from both depression and anxiety. David thoroughly understands the benefits and drawbacks of the use of psychiatric medication that are commonly prescribed to people who have anxiety and/or depression and is a strong advocate for not using these medications unless absolutely necessary. By using the tools and techniques outlined in this book, David has managed to lift himself out of anxiety and depression and still achieve some great successes, including becoming a black belt in tae kwon do and a registered psychologist both in South Africa and Australia. He has helped people with anxiety disorders, depression, low self-esteem, alcohol abuse, phobias, as well as those who just found themselves lost in life and needing some coaching and guidance to take their next step forward. In addition to working as a psychologist, David has worked in the field of human resources for several years. He lives in Sydney where he works as a consultant and psychologist in private practice and is passionate about raising awareness with regards to mental health in the workplace.

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Anteprima del libro

Change Your Life! - David Fox

Copyright © 2010, 2011 David H Fox.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Balboa Press

A Division of Hay House

1663 Liberty Drive

Bloomington, IN 47403

1 (877) 407-4847

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

The author of this book does not dispense medical advice or prescribe the use of any technique as a form of treatment for physical, emotional, or medical problems without the advice of a physician, either directly or indirectly. The intent of the author is only to offer information of a general nature to help you in your quest for emotional and spiritual well-being. In the event you use any of the information in this book for yourself, which is your constitutional right, the author and the publisher assume no responsibility for your actions.

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

ISBN: 978-1-4525-3265-3 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-4525-3268-4 (hc)

ISBN: 978-1-4525-3267-7 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2011902154

Balboa Press rev. date: 10/27/2015

For Jake, Brandon and Lily


Introduction to the Second Edition

Why do people get depressed?

Why do people get anxious?

My current views on anti-depressant medications

Chapter 1 — Positive Thinking: Does it Still Work?

Chapter 2 - Stress, Anxiety and Depression

The difference between stress, anxiety and depression

The case of James – An Anxiety and Panic Disorder

The case of Alex - Depression caused by a loss of work and income

Chapter 3 — What Is Your Mind and How Do You Change It?

The Subconscious Mind


The Conscious Mind

What Are Thoughts?

Quick Tips to Manage a Distressed Mind

Moods: What are they?

The Negative Mood-State

Quick tips in dealing with a negative mood state

1. Talking it out

2. Writing it out

3. Acting it Out

Chapter 4 — The Conscious Way to Change Your Mind

The 10 major categories of distorted thoughts

1.   Fortune Telling and Mind Reading

2.   Negative Mental Filter

3.   All-or-Nothing Thinking

4.   Catastrophising (Magnifying and Minimizing)

5.   Emotional Reasoning

6.   Labeling

7.   Personalisation

8.   Should Statements

9.   Overgeneralisation

10.   Disqualifying the Positive

How it works in practice

Bianca — Why do bad things always happen to me?!

Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Chapter 5 — Goal setting and creating a meaningful life

Chapter 6 — Meditation and Mindfulness


Chapter 7 —The role of exercise in healing your mind

Chapter 8 — Dealing with Change and Letting Go

Chapter 9 — Commitment and Self-Discipline

Chapter 10 — Affirmations

Chapter 11 — Bringing it all Together… Life’s Tetrahedron©

Chapter 12 — Enjoying & Remembering Your Successes

Chapter 13 — The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance

Epilogue — It has always been your choice

About the Author


The Thought Journal

The Thought Worksheet


Introduction to the Second Edition

S ince writing and self publishing Change your Life! in 2011, I have always had this nagging feeling that the book was not actually finished and that I needed to come back to it. Now, being the kind of writer and person that I am, you need to understand how hard that is for me. I really don’t like coming back to material that I have already completed, however that is changing as I get older and realise that as I grow and learn more and more about the struggle with anxiety, depression and anti-depressants, there is often something I did not know at the time of writing which I then learned through my own experiences as well as the experiences of my clients and readers but also from the growing awareness and research out there in the world that shines new light on very important elements of healing.

Thinking now about the evolution of this book, it and I have been evolving since I was 18 years old! It is now twenty years on and I look over some of the writing and concepts I wrote in the earlier versions of this book and I smile or I go red with embarrassment! Not to worry though, as my editing and changes over the years has slowly removed the bits that no longer resonate with me and what I understand and live today. Having said that, surprisingly, many of the core ideas and concepts you will learn in this book regarding how to work with your thoughts, beliefs and emotions remain the same and I still feel they are eternal truths about how to live an effective and happy life. That is not to say that I won’t be changing and adding things to the book as the years go by and as my understanding and hopefully my wisdom continue to evolve.

It might just be that at the ripe old age of 39, I am starting to solidify my understanding of the psychology of the human mind through knowledge gained through both personal experience and the experiences of my clients whom I am unreservedly indebted to. As a psychologist, I feel it both a privilege and an honour to work with my clients and have them share their most intimate experiences, thoughts and traumatic life events as well as their triumphs over adversity from both their external and internal worlds. To sit with them and experience their world and to be given the opportunity and deference that they give is something that I never take for granted and that I continue to be grateful for. To know that I have made a difference in someone’s life and helped them through a very difficult time is incredibly rewarding. It has taken me a long time to realise that what I set out to study at the age of 19 has actually all along been the very career and profession I should have been pursuing. I diverged into the world of business and human resources for my first eight years of work (although I was doing counselling within the role as an organisational psychologist) and then through a combination of horrible misfortune and sheer determination I redirected my career back to psychology, counselling, training and coaching. That’s a story for another time.

My experience with anxiety has led to some very difficult times and on a few occasions I have experienced depression. Being put onto anti-depressants at the age of 23 began my exposure to what it is like going on and trying to come off of these drugs. This book is about my experiences yes, but it is also a field guide, a survival tool kit of how to beat back anxiety and depression. As such, the book certainly required a discussion of what anxiety and depression are in both my personal and professional viewpoints. This is why I decided to include a much more personal account in this second edition of the book of the road I have walked with anxiety and depression as my unwelcome and yet sometimes persistent companions. By no means have they been or will they ever be welcome in my life and the impact they have had has been a little too hard to bear at times. However, I do believe that the fear of anxiety and depression, once experienced, can do more to keep them alive inside you than anything else that is truly going on in your world. And so, as I have grown in my personal and professional journey, I have come to really appreciate that there are more than two primary modalities in current main stream psychology that have the greatest impact on beating back these two demons. Both Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) are powerful tools for change and healing in the face of anxiety and depression. In addition, this book presents every tool that I have tried and tested and found to be effective over time, not only with my own healing and happiness but with my hundreds of clients.

In addition, my journey as well as professional fascination and interest around the real benefits and drawbacks of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications has grown and so I include in this edition my views on these. I feel that since publishing an article on Mad In America in October of 2013, my words and experience have reached out to so many people, many of whom have written to tell me of their own deeply difficult and personal struggles with anxiety, depression and their major withdrawal reactions they have tried to reduce or come off of anti-depressant medications. These have ranged from people who have been on them for a few months, to some who have been on them for over 20 years! All tell a very similar and disturbing story of being put onto the drugs for a range of life stressors or traumas – such as the loss of a loved one, financial difficulties, divorce, minor or major health issues – and then being unable to come off when they felt ready to return to the people they once were without the anti-depressant medications.

So this is certainly not just my own experience I am recounting to you, this is the experience of tens of thousands who have read that article online and who knows how many more who haven’t.

I have been searching for answers to why people get anxious and depressed and what to do about it for most of my adult life. For the past ten years, my journey with the ongoing debate about whether there are just certain people who have a hereditary predisposition to becoming anxious and/or depressed has become a focal point of my personal and professional life. Why is it that wherever we find people checking for whether a depressed person has a history of depression in their family, we automatically assume there is a genetic link as opposed to a socialised and environmental link to why that person has become depressed or is more vulnerable than others? Yes, there are the twin studies, or the studies of how siblings who grew up in the same environment don’t necessarily react exactly the same to life stressors and one may become depressed while the other not. However, this may just be interplay between personality factors and environmental factors, not hereditary factors. It is an age old debate in psychology. I will certainly agree that one should check for medical causes before making any assumptions around the causes of anxiety and depression. You may very well have a thyroid problem, you may very well be deficient in zinc, vitamin B6 or B12 and you may have either an under or overload of certain minerals in your system (for more info see Dr William Walsh’s Nutrient Therapy book). However, if you check and correct for these things, and you don’t have a miraculous recovery from anxiety and depression then you may need the rest of this book to help.

I would like to dive straight into a short synopsis of my current views on what I believe are the major contributors that lead to people suffering from depression and/or an anxiety disorder. Note that I say an anxiety disorder as opposed to just feeling very stressed or anxious from time to time. These are two very different experiences.

Why do people get depressed?

The reasons that people fall prey to depression can be quite varied but many if not most of those reasons are psychological in nature and thus need to be treated in a psychological format. What I mean by this is that something happens to the person or has happened in their life such as separation/divorce, financial setback, having a baby, losing a job, loss of a loved one and other highly stressful, traumatic or anxiety provoking situations which leads them to conduct themselves in certain ways (physically, mentally and behaviourally) and to think and feel in certain ways which can lead to anxiety disorders and to depression. Ongoing stress and anxiety releases negative chemicals such as cortisol into our bodies and this in turn can lead to a lowering of the positive chemicals that we need to feel good - such as serotonin. Whilst this has not been proven conclusively, it is a possibility for at least some people. Whilst there has been no definitive proof that a lowered level of serotonin CAUSES depression, it is certainly a factor that cannot be ignored. Whether you can raise your serotonin levels through natural means (which you can!) or you choose to take anti-depressants is a very important and difficult consideration. Much more on this very controversial and I would even say commercial-political subject later!

Anxiety disorders are numerous and specific in nature such as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), GAD (general anxiety disorder), specific phobias (of heights, confined or open spaces, animals, flying, needles etc.), PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) etc. Depression, however, works on a continuum. You can be mildly, moderately or severely depressed. The symptoms tend to be the same but vary in their intensity and impact on a person’s quality of life. It is my opinion that anti depressant medications should ONLY EVER be used when someone has been identified as severely depressed and has been diagnosed as such by a psychologist, social worker or other mental health professional and not by a 10 question survey in a doctor’s office whilst the patient is in tears and feeling like their life is falling apart. Honestly, what other outcome are we to expect in that moment in asking them how they have felt in the past two weeks? Two weeks! Surely, a diagnosis of clinically or severely depressed needs to look at the person holistically and over the past couple of weeks if not months. Then and only then - when symptoms are occurring such as the inability to get out of bed and go to work, to shower or bath, to eat and where basic functioning in life has been impaired - should anti-depressants be prescribed.

And even then, only after other therapies, tools and exercises have been exhausted and no noticeable improvements have been seen. We may then have cause to take the risk WITH OUR PATIENTS of needing to start the journey of taking a substance that they may very well benefit from in the short term but which may prove to be very difficult to withdraw from when their crisis has past and they no longer need it.

The jury is still out on whether there is any significant relationship between genetics and depression. There is stronger evidence that there is a genetic link when it comes to disorders such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder but not so for anxiety and depression. One would always need to ask the question of whether it was genetics or the fact that the child grew up in an environment where a parent was suffering from anxiety and/or depression and thus the behaviour, thought patterns and general way of being in the world was picked up and learned. We learn many other behaviours and habits both good and bad from our parents and carers early on when they are our greatest reference point of what to do in the world. It is thus not difficult to understand the potential for the behaviours to be passed on in this way rather than through the genes. The further impact of an emotionally or physically abusive upbringing would add to the potential for the child to grow into an anxious or depressed teen and adult. I do understand that twin studies have shown two siblings growing up in the same environment may react very differently and one may end up with depression and the other not, ostensibly pointing to genetics as a factor in why someone gets depressed. However, isn’t it also true then that if it was pure genetics that both of the twins should develop depression?

It is true that some people develop depression when there does not seem to be any specific external reason for it and this type of depression is often very resistant to treatment both in terms of anti-depressant

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