AS@W Antidepressant Skills Workbook: Heling You Deal With Depression
The Story of Margaret

Here is the experience of one person who used these methods effectively.

Margaret is a married teacher in her mid- 30s who came to her family physician with symptoms of depression. She had recently transferred to an inner city school, attracted to the challenge of the work. But she found she could not accomplish what had been normal for her, although she worked long hours. She began to sleep poorly and to worry almost all the time. She criticized herself in a harsh manner for not doing as well as she expected. Her mood began to drop until she felt miserable. This made it more difficult to perform her job and she became even more self-critical and depressed.

Antidepressant medication was prescribed by her family physician. This helped her sleep, raised her energy level and greatly reduced her emotional suffering.

When she read through the section on Reactivating Your Life, she realized that she had been avoiding her friends since she took the job and especially since she became depressed. She set the goal of meeting a friend once a week for tea. Later on she increased this to include other social activities. After the first month, she added moderate exercise as a goal.

When she read through the section on Thinking Realistically, she recognized several cognitive distortions: she had a very selfcritical way of thinking; she expected herself to perform perfectly; and she ignored praise from others. She used questions from the self-care guide to come up with more fair and realistic ways of thinking: What evidence do you have? She had received positive evaluations and a colleague told her she was doing as well as possible in the situation. What would you say to a friend in the same situation? She wrote out the fair and supportive words she would say to a friend, then practiced saying them to herself. What is a less extreme way of looking at the situation? She wrote down some more realistic thoughts about the job situation, then reminded herself of these whenever she noticed the unrealistic, negative thoughts.

The combination of antidepressant medication and self-care methods led to a gradual improvement in her depression, a more fair and accepting attitude towards herself, more realistic self-expectations, and more enjoyment of her life.