Marriage and Family Therapist
Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross is a licensed psychotherapist with almost twenty years of clinical experience in the fields of clinical psychology and organizational management. She has worked extensively with a wide variety of…
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Happy Memories May Help Reduce Depression
Posted in Depression by Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross on Mar 20, 2013
Behaviorists are always on the lookout for new ways to help their patients feel better. Tim Dalgleish, Ph.D., of the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit conducted a study using a process called “method-of-loci,” which appears to be useful in decreasing depression.

Recalling past happy memories is typically a mood elevator, but being able to do that in the throes of depression isn’t always easy. The “method-of-loci” strategy asks a patient to associate positive memories with specific objects or locations. An example of this may be that you connect your happy memory to a park or a building that you pass everyday on your way to work. In order to bring up that memory later, you then need to envision the process of your commute and these specific landmarks.

The study asked people to recall 15 happy memories. One group was then asked to use this method-of-loci technique and the other group was asked to organize the memories based on similarities. Initially both groups were able to recall these memories at the same level of accuracy. One week later the researchers made a surprise call to the participants and asked them once again to recall these memories. The members of the method-of-loci group were significantly more adept at doing so.

Depression suffers have a difficult time accessing positive memories and therefore this new study offers valuable information and practical strategies to help accomplish this. Writing down one’s joyful memories can be a good way to get started with the process. When you emotionally relive these experiences through recall your mood is typically elevated.

I use the process of recalling positive memories frequently when working with couples in distress, because so often when a relationship is struggling it is hard to remember any of the good times. So much of our mood is dictated by our perceptions, both towards others and ourselves. I have watched couples do something as simple as viewing photos of a happier time together, which then helps them to become hopeful that regaining that connection is possible.

Individuals will experience a similar process when they recall happy memories as if a light has been shed on an otherwise bleak picture. The deeper belief is that if they have felt this positively in the past, then there is a chance they may feel happy again.

This study provides useful information to those suffering with depression. The process can be tried on one’s own but is likely to be more effective with the supervision of a clinician. However it is attempted, it is a step in the right direction toward the alleviation of depressive symptoms.

- Cyndi

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CATEGORIES: Overview
CONDITIONS AND COMMUNITIES: Depression  •  Depression - Teen  •  Depression in Children  •  Depression Supporters  •  Post Partum Depression
TAGS: Symptoms  •  Therapies  •  New Technologies

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Major depression is a serious psychiatric condition, characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, guilt or worthlessness, often accompanied by:

Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.
A loss of interest in people and/or activities that once brought you pleasure.
A change in eating or sleeping habits.
Feeling tired all the time.
Restlessness or irritability.
Thoughts of death, suicide, or harming yourself.

If you have some or all of these symptoms, talk to your doctor or a mental health care provider. Depression can be treated. More here home renovations perth
By sashadebretton  Mar 28, 2013
7
Happy memories are abundant now that I started thinking about it. Days at the beach,trips to Disney. How much fun I have going clothes shopping which I've never enjoyed. Holiday meals with family,Easter egg hunts. It goes on ang on,so apparently I'm not depressed right now. Yeah!
By natalie1955  Mar 28, 2013
6
If I'm simply weird, fine, I'll admit it. The thing that can get me out of a bad mood quicker than anything else is to imagine how my problems could be worse. When I'm done, I am so relieved they aren't really that bad, I end up in a good mood for a very long time. Other than that, I can't think of truly happy memories.
By Fern RL  Mar 26, 2013
5
There is no single cause of depression, and there is no single one size fits all treatment. Many causes, many treatments.

This is a good one to use, but as suggested by others here it is not guaranteed to work all the time.
By ThePepperMan  Mar 24, 2013
4
so many mistakes in my life, and so many back stabbers i hung out with, hard to think of a totally good memory, though i live in the past anyhow.

i do keep some stuff out in open, from some trip or shopping, to try to keep that recent event in my mind for a week or so after it happened.
By penntucky  Mar 23, 2013
3
And if you have no happy memories I guess this isn't going to work. One seems an awful lot to ask of someone let alone 15!
By LoveLittleLucy  Mar 22, 2013
2
*"...more often than not..."
By KosMos81  Mar 20, 2013
1
Recalling happy memories can make me even more depressed and, moreen than not, that's usually what they do. I wish that happy memories did help me though.
By KosMos81  Mar 20, 2013
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