Amber Grubenmann

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Overcoming Depression and Dating Again with Dr. Stephen Ilardi

Uncategorized Aug 26, 2022

On episode 198 of the podcast, I interviewed one of my favorite authors, Dr. Stephen Ilardi. We talked about his book The Depression Cure, and the intersection of mental health and dating.

Dr. Ilardi explained that when people are depressed they’re often in a lot of pain.

If our brain is signaling a lot of emotional distress, it profoundly influences how our mind works.

It’s no mystery why when people are in a depressive mood they have a negative self-image and a negative view of the world in general.

A person who is struggling with depression can be more sensitive to circumstances that are a natural part of dating, such as rejection, disappointment, and conflict.

During the interview I asked, is it helpful for somebody who is recovering from depression to be out in the world of dating?

Dr. Ilardi explained that one of the biggest drivers of depression is actually the brain’s runaway stress response staying in overdrive for an extended period of time.

Anything we can do to put the brakes on the stress response will be therapeutic and helpful to someone with clinical depression.

Dating is exciting, but it can also be really stressful.

Moreover, we see ourselves in a worse light when we’re depressed.

When we think we don’t deserve a great partner, we might settle for someone who we know deep down isn’t the best person for us in the long-term.

If somebody is in the middle of a depressive episode, they will probably be better served not spending a lot of energy on the dating market.

It would be better to spend that energy on healing and becoming the best version of themselves.

If you are feeling daily deep, aching loneliness, the solution is not to find a partner, but rather to create stronger bonds with the people in your life.

Social connection is one of the six steps to healing from depression, along with a diet rich in omega fats, sunlight, sleep, exercise, and activity with purpose. 

Dr. Ilardi and I also discussed some strategies to spend less time ruminating on negative thoughts:

- Set a timer for 10 minutes, get a blank sheet of paper, and write it all out.

The harder we try to suppress negative thoughts the more they come to the surface.

You want to able to validate the valid and acknowledge when you’re getting into toxic terrain.

Write down your thoughts, but give yourself a time limit so you can continue with your day. 

- Create a list of activities that you can turn to when you need something to do.

We are more vulnerable to rumination when we are not mentally occupied.

Plan your schedule to include those activities, so you don’t find yourself with nothing to do and end up ruminating for hours.

- Take a break from your phone.

Sometimes we get caught up overthinking the dynamics of our relationship with a specific person.

Keeping your phone right next to you and waiting for that text while you’re trying to get work done isn’t helpful.

Turn your phone on airplane mode for a few hours so you can take a break from those negative thoughts.

You can learn more about Dr. Ilardi's work here.

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This content was originally published on the Women's Dating and Confidence Podcast. Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

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