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Jordan Peterson’s Advice For People With Depression

the first thing i would say is that if you're dealing with someone who's depressed and they're really depressed you should try giving them antidepressants because if they die you can't help them okay so if you're suffering you are obligated in a sense to hold on to whatever rope someone throws you and one of the things i do with my clients all the time especially if they're really in trouble is to tell them look i don't know exactly what's going to hap help you but don't arbitrarily throw out any possibilities because you might not have that luxury antidepressants help a lot of people and there are technical reasons why that's the case so that's a simple answer it's not relevant to what i already described except that if you're offered a gift by your society and it works try it i don't care what your presuppositions are apart from that lots of the lots of time lots of the time you see people who are suffering with depression for example there's a multitude of reasons but i'll take one common reason um you could think about it as associated with the story of peter pan a peter pan is someone who won't grow up right now the problem with peter pan is he gets to be king but it's king of neverland neverland doesn't exist so being king of nothing isn't that helpful well one of the things that you often see with people who suffer from depression and and i'm not making a blanket statement about the cause of depression because there's lots of them is that people who don't have enough order in their life tend to get overwhelmed so for example if someone comes into me and sees to see me and they say they're depressed i always ask them a very standard set of questions do you have a job if you don't have a job you're really in trouble in our society first of all you your biological rhythms tend to go off the rails right away because there's no reason to go to bed at any particular time and there's no reason to get up and for many people if they don't get up at the same time they follow up the functioning of their circadian rhythms and that's enough to make them depressed right off the bat especially if they start napping during the afternoon they don't also don't have a purpose people aren't good without a purpose and this isn't this isn't hypothesizing we absolutely understand the circuitry that underlies positive emotion we know how it works almost all the positive emotion that any of you are likely to experience in your life will not be a consequence of attaining things it will be a consequence of seeing that things are working as you proceed towards a goal you value that's completely different and you need to know this because people are often stunned for example they finish their phd thesis and their presupposition is that they're going to be elated for a month and often instead they're actually depressed and they think what the hell i've been working on this for seven years and i handed it in and what do i do now and that's what depresses them right it's the what do i do now well they're fine if they enjoyed it pursuing the thing as long as it was working out they get a lot of enthusiasm and excitement out of that because that's how our nervous systems work most of your positive emotion is goal pursuit emotion if you take drugs like cocaine or amphetamine the reason they're enjoyable is because they turn on the systems that help you pursue goals that's why people like them so if you don't have a job you got no structure that's not good plus you tend not to have a point so you're overwhelmed by chaotic lack of structure and you don't have any positive emotion well do you have any friends so sometimes you see people who are depressed they have no job they have no friends they have no intimate relationship they have an additional health problem and they have a drug and alcohol problem my experience has been if you have three of those problems it's almost impossible to help you you're so deeply mired in chaos that you can't get out because you make progress on one front and one of your other problems pulls you down so one of the things i tell people who are depressed is like don't sacrifice your stability get a job even if it's not the job you exactly want get a damn job you need a job find some friends get out in the dating circuit see if you can establish an intimate relationship put together some of the foundational items that that are like pillars that your life rests on well that's the practical thing to do so that's one example with regards to depression well the thing is you don't just launch it on them you know you've got to negotiate with the person and you also got to teach them to negotiate with themselves and this is something that's very useful to know you know um you can tyrannize yourself into doing things but i wouldn't recommend it what i would recommend instead is that you ask yourself what you're willing to do it's a really effective technique it's like a meditative technique so for example you can get up in the morning and you can think well you know i'd like to have a good day today so i'd like to go to bed tonight without feeling guilty because i you know didn't do some things i said i was going to do and i you know i'd like to have kind of an interesting day so you got to fulfill my responsibilities and i want to you know enjoy the day then you can ask yourself well okay what would i have to do in order for that to happen that i would do and the probability if you practice this for three or four days is your brain will just tell you'll say well you know there's that piece of homework that you haven't done for like three weeks you should knock that sucker off because it would only take you 10 minutes and you've been avoiding it and torturing yourself to death for you know like like 72 hours straight and if you do that here's a little interesting thing you can do and you know maybe this is little obligations you should clean up and so what what you do in a situation like that is you teach the person to negotiate with themselves say well let's figure out what your aims are you got to have some aims whatever they are and they might say well i'm so depressed i don't have any aims and then i say well pick the least objectionable of the aims and act it out for a while and see what happens because sometimes your emotions your emotional systems are so followed up that you have to pretend you have to act the thing out before you can start to believe it i mean people always assume they have to believe and then act but but that's sometimes that's true and lots of times it isn't so the trick if you're doing therapeutic work with somebody and you're helping them establish a structure is to find out what they'll do now if they want to get better which is not a given because there are often payoffs for not getting better that's basically the payoffs of being a martyr or maybe the payoffs of doing what your entirely pathological family members want you to do because they 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