Research has found shame and depression to be related.
Thomas Scheff at the UC Santa Barbara Department of Sociology observed a group 83 depressed World War II veterans in an English mental hospital.
These vets whispered when responding to questions and avoided eye contact.
When the veterans were asked about what they did during the War about half experienced a reduction in depression symptoms. Their behavioral response to the question showed a sense of pride. They talked more loudly and made better eye contact.
Scheff believes that the veterans had a sense of pride concerning what they did during the War. This pride was able to override feelings of shame.
These results support Scheff's theory that depression arises out of shame and a sense of pride can cause depression to improve temporarily.
The veterans in this group were older but the researchers believe that the results can be applied to other age groups and cultures.
It is common for depression and shame to occur together. Such shame can come from not living up to expectations of others' or of one's self. The break-up of a romantic relationship can also result in shame.
My Two Cents Worth
To overcome the sense of shame that can result in depression, it is important that one develop a healthy sense of pride. Cognitive psychotherapy can help in this regard. The feelings of shame are the result of how the depressed person is thinking. By changing his or her thoughts, the person can break free of the shame and depression.
If you are depressed, think about and write about those things that you have done that you are proud of. What are your past accomplishments?
If you cannot think of any, ask a family member or friend that knows you well what they think you have accomplished and can be proud of.
Then, tell yourself that you did a good job. Don't argue with yourself about your accomplishments. Just accept that you did something worthwhile -- something to be proud of.
You can even try writing a letter to yourself, thanking yourself for the good job which you did.
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