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How To Survive A Major Depressive Episode? A Clinical Psychology Podcast Episode.

How To Survive A Major Depressive Episode? A Clinical Psychology Podcast Episode.

From our clinical psychology lectures, watching the media and talking to friends and peers at university or in the workplace, we know that depression is serious and can even be life-threatening. Depression can lead to increases in self-harm, suicidal ideation and it can be crippling. Therefore, it’s important to know how to survive a major depressive episode. Even if you don’t have depression yourself, this is still a useful podcast episode that will give you a lot of useful ideas and unofficial tips and techniques to help someone in the future. And if you are depressed then this episode will give you a lot of ideas to think about for the future. If you enjoy learning about depression, mental health and clinical psychology then this is a great episode for you.

Today’s psychology podcast episode has been sponsored by CBT For Depression: A Clinical Psychology Introduction To Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Depression. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca.

Note: as always absolutely nothing on this podcast is ever any sort of official medical, professional or any other form of advice.

Why Is Depression Serious And Potentially Life-Threatening?

Before we talk about the five main ways how you or a client can survive a major depressive episode, I want to remind people how serious Depression is and how dangerous it can be. Granted, I was reminded of this yesterday because even though I’m not clinically depressed, there have been two times in the past 6-months where I’ve been so depressed I simply couldn’t move. There were other consequences too but I want to keep this podcast light as always.

Therefore, depression is the leading cause of disability in the world according to Friedrich (2017) as well as about 34% of people with bipolar disorder and about 31% of people with major depression disorder will attempt suicide in their lifetime (Dong et al., 2019; Dong et al., 2020). On the whole, when we add those percentages to the fact that depression is most associated with suicide, it makes us realise that depression can be life-threatening.

Hence, why we need to think about and make it common knowledge about how to survive a major depressive episode.

In addition, major or severe depression can be linked at times to changes in a person’s information and sensory integration. This is called Psychosis, and this type of psychosis tends to take on a dark, depressive-congruent quality. For instance, a person experiencing this type of psychosis might experience persecutory delusions so they truly believe that the people around them are trying to harm them and they hate them or they can hear unkind voices too. Interestingly, about 10% of people with major depressive disorder (Dold et al., 2019) as well as 63% of people with bipolar disorder experience psychotic features (Aminioff et al., 2022).

Overall, I know you’re all psychology students, professionals and people interested in psychology here, but we absolutely cannot underestimate depression. That is half the problem I think is the world at times, because we hear ignorant people saying they're “depressed” about the weather or that their football team is losing and they actually don’t understand what their talking about. Instead they are just using a word with a critical, vital meaning outside of a clinical context and this doesn’t help our clients. This only waters down the meaning of an important term so people don’t think depression is as important as it is and this stops people from seeking help when they need it and it creates extra barriers for our clients too.

Thankfully, it’s important to note that people can recover from depression regardless of its severity, and there are more treatments than ever before to help people. I’ve spoken about them in podcast episodes before and in my books, with different forms of psychotherapy and anti-depressants being first-line treatments.

How To Survive A Major Depressive Episode?

It Will Not Always Be This Way

I have to admit that when you are going through a major depressive episode, you seriously don’t remember this and I always forget it. I don’t remember that this is a temporary thing and I think this is how my life will be from now on because in the moment or the hours or day that it lasts, this is how my life seems.

And it doesn’t help that when you are healthy again, the experiences of depression just feel so disconnected from you because it feels completely foreign.

Therefore, it’s good to remind ourselves and our clients that the vast majority of major depressive episodes are temporary, as well as even with the longer-lasting depression episodes, there are usually moments of happiness.

If your client is in a major depressive episode, remember that this is temporary and there will be moments of happiness again.

Sometimes it can help to look over pictures and other memories from times when you were happy. Also when your client is healthy again, get them to write a note of encouragement to remind themselves of these times when they don’t feel happy.

Depression never lasts.

Seek Meaning

This is an interesting one because even when a person is in a depressive episode, they can normally find meaning in small things or they can take steps towards their values. Since depression is an oppressive force so clients might want to find out what they can do and look for opportunities to live how you see as meaningful.

Yesterday, I was sort of reminded of this because at my university, I want to reform the Psychology Society and I had emailed a final-year student on the 1st of May and she replied the same night. It was the 24th of May yesterday and I still hadn’t replied and I noticed her and a group of people had tried to message me on Teams. So I forced myself to go onto my laptop and look at what had happened in the email and on Teams. It was a nice reminder that people wanted to talk to me, be with me and work with me for the long term. And I seriously do want to start up the psychology society again and be President.

Equally, I had a specialist appointment at the university again on Monday and this is basically what the woman said. She stressed that I should do a lot of self-care, throw myself into my interests and stick to my values and what would bring me joy.

Ask For Help

Last night me and a friend went to go and play Tennis because my friend was probably a little worried about me, and when we got back to their place, we were talking. I still hate their kitchen. I know it’s a student house but I hate their kitchen with a passion and I’m also glad the house we’re moving into together has a nice kitchen.

Anyway, we were talking about mental health and my friend said that based on their experience, they realised that when it comes to mental health you never really notice how bad of a place you were in until you look back later on. I largely agree with the comment and depression is very good at hiding that from you. This touches on a different topic altogether.

However, my point is that when you realise you need help, it’s okay to ask for it.

If you haven’t received mental health support before then contact different services, find a therapist by searching for it online or ask for help in other ways. Just make sure you get the professional help you.

If you’re already in therapy or getting another form of mental health support then asking for help means asking for more or different help than what you’re currently getting. This is something I’m struggling with at the moment because my normal therapist was brilliant for helping me with my child abuse and trauma. She isn’t so good at helping me now, which isn’t her fault because sexual violence work is so specialised at times so I reached out to charity and I have a counselling assessment next Friday.

Additionally, if there’s a risk you or your client is at risk of self-harming or suicide then reach out to crisis services like the 988 suicide prevention lifeline. Also, a therapist and even a primary care doctor can help you.

When it comes to asking for help, you can also reach out to your natural support systems like your family and friends too.

In addition, one of the most annoying feelings in the world is when you don’t feel like you’re able to get help straight away or you’re told “no” in different ways. For example, I hate it when my therapist doesn’t have an appointment for me for a week and a bit, that is just annoying because I want support now and I’m not able to get it. Another form of this is when clients are looking for inpatient programmes and the programmes they want to get into don’t have any “beds” available.

When this happens, you need to keep trying and realise that you reaching out for support is an act of defiance against your depression, so keep doing it. Keep looking for therapists, support and other options.

Just please make sure you get the help and support you need.

Remember Your Reasons For Living

I know from personal experience how extremely difficult this can be during a depressive episode.

When it comes to reasons for living, a lot of people want to live so they can see their friends and family, they have hope for the future so they want to see what happens and they believe that they’ll find something worth living for in the future. Yet during a depressive episode, it can seem like a client doesn’t have any of these options and they can’t even start to think of these things.

For example, being brutally honest about yesterday, I do have a good number to live for coming up. I have Summer Core at my university from mid-June to mid-July as a student ambassador so that’s a lot of fun, really easy work with a great pay check attached. Me and my family are going to Kew Gardens somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, I’m going to Canterbury Pride with some friends and I’m moving in with my friends at the end of next month.

In addition, me having a lot of normal reasons to live for because my life is good.

I couldn’t remember a single one of those reasons yesterday and even when I did remember, my depression or my mental health twisted it so these things didn’t look like a reason to live.

As a result, when it comes to surviving a depressive episode, you need to remind yourself of reasons to live. You need to write down your reasons so you can read it and remember you have plenty of reasons to live for, as well as you can hang up pictures of the people that are close to you and love you too.

Just give yourself as many reminders that life is worth living as possible.

Clinical Psychology Conclusion

I never really intended to do a podcast episode on depression today but I wasn’t really inspired or bothered about any of the other topics I have on my podcast list after what happened yesterday. And I have to admit that I like episodes like this because even though nothing on the podcast is official advice, I still like that I can do slightly more practical and applied episodes that will hopefully help a student, professional or another person entirely.

Going through a depressive episode is awful and I don’t wish it on anyone, but there is always hope and you are never alone.

There is always support available and whilst it might seem difficult to find, it is there and there are lots of people happy and ready to help you, because you deserve it.

You never deserve to suffer in silence and you can survive a major depressive episode.

You seriously can.


I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology podcast episode.

If you want to learn more, please check out:

CBT For Depression: A Clinical Psychology Introduction To Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Depression. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca.

Have a great day.

Clinical Psychology References

Aminoff, S. R., Onyeka, I. N., Ødegaard, M., Simonsen, C., Lagerberg, T. V., Andreassen, O. A., ... & Melle, I. (2022). Lifetime and point prevalence of psychotic symptoms in adults with bipolar disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological medicine, 1-13.

Dold, M., Bartova, L., Kautzky, A., Porcelli, S., Montgomery, S., Zohar, J., & Kasper, S. (2019). Psychotic features in patients with major depressive disorder: a report from the European group for the study of resistant depression. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 80(1), 16309.

Dong, M., Lu, L., Zhang, L., Zhang, Q., Ungvari, G. S., Ng, C. H., ... & Xiang, Y. T. (2020). Prevalence of suicide attempts in bipolar disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Epidemiology and psychiatric sciences, 29, e63.

Dong, M., Zeng, L. N., Lu, L., Li, X. H., Ungvari, G. S., Ng, C. H., ... & Xiang, Y. T. (2019). Prevalence of suicide attempt in individuals with major depressive disorder: a meta-analysis of observational surveys. Psychological medicine, 49(10), 1691-1704.

Frankl, V. E. (1992). Man's search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy (4th ed.) (I. Lasch, Trans.). Beacon Press

Friedrich, M. J. (2017). Depression is the leading cause of disability around the world. Jama, 317(15), 1517-1517.

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