All people are guilty of thinking negatively at some point in their life. It is only human. But when this seemingly harmless act is repeated over and over again, negative thinking can become a dangerous addiction that leaves its victims feeling hopeless. This addiction is called depression.
Depression is one of the more common addictions that people with OCPD are likely to struggle with.
First things first – I must address the chemical imbalance theory of depression. The chemical imbalance hypothesis is an unproven, convenient theory that oversimplifies the cause of depression to the depleted serotonin levels of the brain. In his book, “The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Anti-Depressant Myth,” Dr. Irving Kirsch goes into detail about how “the idea of depression as a chemical imbalance of the brain is a myth.” People with OCPD do not fall into depression because of any chemical imbalance in their brain. They fall into depression because of compulsive negative thinking.
So what causes OCPD negative thinking?
One of the main ingredients of OCPD negative thinking is “all-or-nothing thinking.” This type of thinking splits life events as being either “completely disastrous” or “absolutely wonderful.” But why does the pessimistic view repeatedly win over the optimistic one when people with OCPD judge their experiences? The pessimistic view wins because the majority of life’s experiences fall below the high standards of people with OCPD.
So we have established that people with OCPD tend to think negatively when they do think. But how frequently do they think? Do people with OCPD think frequently enough to develop an addiction for it?
Yes, people with OCPD are thinkaholics. The intellectual overexcitability of these highly sensitive people causes them to spend much more time thinking than most other people do. Anxiety turns this natural inclination into more of an obsession. People with OCPD think so much that they may be heavily burdened with issues of existence and loneliness. This can lead to existential depression when it is combined with “all-or-nothing” negative thinking. A lot of people with OCPD who are fearful of their overwhelming emotions are also used to thinking their way out of their feelings. This “flight into reason” not only reinforces the brain pathway associated with excessive thinking, but it also creates a whole new problem associated with depression.
In her book, “The Drama of the Gifted Child,” Dr. Alice Miller wrote,
“The true opposite of depression is neither gaiety nor absence of pain, but vitality – the freedom to experience spontaneous feelings. It is part of the kaleidoscope of life that these feelings are not only happy, beautiful, or good but can reflect the entire range of human experience, including envy, jealousy, rage, disgust, greed, despair, and grief.”
It is exactly this vitality which is missing in the lives of so many people with OCPD (read more about OCPD “Composure and Emotional Non-expression“).
SO WHAT NOW?
HOW TO GET OUT OF YOUR DEPRESSION (OCPD):
See your depression for what it is. It is an addiction. You do have the choice to put an end to it. But like all other addictions, you need to go “all-in” in your effort to stop doing the things that feed into your addiction. There is no easy way out of it, no “quick fix” pill you can take to end this addiction. You must force yourself to develop a habit of thinking positively.
Stop thinking in “black and white.” When difficult feelings come, do not think your way out of it. Feel your emotions without judging whether they are good or bad. Be calm as you say to yourself, “Ah, so this is what betrayal feels like.” Throughout your day, force yourself to smile even if it feels unnatural – your brain will follow and supply you with the emotions that have been linked with that behaviour. During the day, force yourself to go out and spend time with people even if all you feel like doing is lying down in bed.
If you are currently on antidepressants, do not suddenly stop taking them. Talk to your physician about gradually discontinuing your use of antidepressants.
If you relapse on your depression, just try again. Relapse does not mean you must go back on antidepressants. It just means you might need clearer boundaries. Some recovered alcoholics do not even have a sip of beer. Like them, you may need to keep yourself from having even a “sip” of negativity.
It is not so out of the ordinary for people with OCPD to experience sudden drops in their mood even after they have made all the right changes to their pattern of thinking and the way in which they experience their emotions. Do not be discouraged. Your emotional sensitivity may be causing you to unconsciously empathize with the pain and suffering of others.