Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for ages 15-44. Depression affects more than 15 million American adults in a given year. It can cause you to feel hopeless, restless and have difficulty concentrating. People suffering from depression often experience difficulty sleeping, weight changes and loss of interest in hobbies and activities. If you have ever suffered from depression or know someone who has, you know how debilitating it can be.

Overcoming depression is never easy, but learning how to train your brain to avoid negative thoughts can help. Use these three steps to train your brain to stop depression:

1. Focus On The Future

Feelings of sadness often come from events that have happened in the past. In order to move forward, you must turn your attention to the future. Allowing the past to have a negative hold on you will impact your present and your future. As hard as it might be, you must tell yourself that reliving events from the past will continue to have a negative effect on your life. Find a way to make peace with the past and move on. You might not forget what happened, but you can tell yourself that you are brave enough to move forward, in order to make a better life for yourself.

2. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

With the popularity of social media, it seems that more and more people are comparing themselves to others. You might see someone else’s life and wish it was your own. You might be jealous of their looks, their possessions, their social status or their success. When you compare yourself to others, you are letting them steal your joy. You are making your own life seem unimportant or insignificant. Stop making comparisons. It’s important to know that you are unique and beautiful. You have your own things to offer to the world. If you need to delete your social media pages, do it. Don’t waste another minute feeling envious of someone else. Instead, work on making your own life more fulfilling.

3. Train Your Brain Not To Repress Thoughts And Feelings

Everyone has negative thoughts and feelings every once in a while. You might think that avoiding them can help you avoid depression, but the opposite is true. Research has shown that suppressing negative thoughts is actually associated with “obsessive thinking and emotional reactivity.” To avoid become depressed, learn to observe your negative thoughts and emotions as they happen. Train your brain to recognize them and tell yourself that a negative thought does not need to define you.

Power of Positivity
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
National Institute of Mental Health
Guilford Press
Psych Central