Let me briefly discuss what I found to be among the most interesting findings of my depression research - the finding that ultimately resulted in the development of Personalized Depression Therapy.
I began my research into depression by asking a large sample of individuals some survey questions. I made sure that I had a representative sample of persons who had never suffered a major depression and a representative sample of those who had. My objective was to see if I could pinpoint any meaningful differences between the two groups.
And so I asked questions about a lot of different areas: age, gender, lifestyles, attitudes, interests, occupation, education, diet, family history of depression, family problems, and on and on. It was my prediction that somewhere there had to be some common factors that might provide at least a partial clue to the mystery of depression.
When I began to analyze the results of my first group of surveys, many patterns emerged. But one, in particular, really struck me. When all other factors were held constant, individuals who had developed personal interests in six areas were far, far less likely to have suffered an episode or multiple episodes of major depression. This was strange. How could something as commonplace as someone’s personal interests have anything to do with whether or not severe depression would develop?
This was simple, so I was automatically suspicious. Despite the fact that scientists are taught to look for clear, simple solutions to problems, something this simple in the field of psychology - of all things - seemed almost too good to be true. But there it was. The implications of this finding have now kept me busy doing follow-up research for the past several years. But here’s basically what it boils down to:
Individuals with the fewest episodes of major depression have developed personal interests - and actively pursue those interests - in each of the following six areas: 1) objects, 2) activities, 3) places, 4) people, 5) skills, and 6) beliefs. And these individuals spend, on average, somewhat over 90% of their leisure time pursuing these interests.
Guess how much of their leisure - or non-working - time depressed individuals spend pursuing their personal interests? Less than 20%. And a great deal of the rest of the time, they are thinking about being depressed.
My latest research continues to support these findings, and I am confident in stating that: The lack of comprehensive personal interests in these six areas strongly contributes to the development of severe depression. We could summarize it this way:
Persons with a comprehensive set of personal interests have more dominant “personalities” and so are less likely to engage in negative inner dialogues. In such cases, the submission response is less likely to be triggered. Thus, these persons are less likely to become severely depressed.