According to the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the field of positive psychology consists of “the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.”
While most people would agree that the pursuit of happiness is high on their list of priorities, many of the fundamental factors that constitute personal happiness — confidence, healthy self-esteem and a sense of self-worth, and feelings of contentment and belonging — can feel perpetually out of reach, or downright impossible, when you are suffering from anxiety disorders or depression. Incorporating positive psychology principles with traditional therapy can help to balance negative feelings and emotions, build strength and emotional resiliency, and foster hope to help you manage when a problem or situation seems insurmountable or overwhelming.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the most common symptoms of depression include:
- Prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, helplessness and anxiety
- Loss of interest in hobbies, social activities, and relationships
- Persistent fatigue and lack of energy
- Insomnia or oversleeping
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Thoughts of suicide
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
Focusing on Positive Emotions and Well-Being Therapy
Data has shown that when mental health professionals incorporate methods of positive psychology that encourage positive feelings and behavior, it can lead to an increased sense of well-being for certain patients. So how can positive psychology help you? Depression, anxiety, and addictions to alcohol, gambling, drugs, sex and pornography can stem from or contribute to existing feelings of low self-worth or low self-esteem. Studies have found that how you view yourself and feel about yourself can have a big impact on your mental and physical health, as well as how well you relate to others in social interactions and intimate relationships.
What Is the Difference Between Positive Psychology and Positive Thinking?
Unlike the concept of positive thinking, which emphasizes choosing to focus on happy or positive thoughts in all situations, positive psychology relies on clinical evidence and established treatment methods to help build positive coping methods and tools to deal with negative situations and feelings when they inevitably arise. Some of the key factors stressed in positive psychology are:
Focusing on positive emotions like gratitude. The simple act of making a daily list of three good or positive things that occurred or that you are thankful for can have a powerful impact on your mood and perspective. Over time, the practice can strengthen like a muscle and help to slowly build a more positive outlook on life.
Build and strengthen positive traits and coping mechanisms such as:
- Compassion (for yourself and others)
- Positive self-image
Positive Institutions. Supportive and healthy communities are an essential part of our emotional, mental and physical well-being.
While positive psychology is not necessarily a replacement for traditional therapy and treatment for depression, anxiety disorders or addiction, it can help to complement treatment and provide new tools for coping with feelings of hopelessness and despair. If you are currently undergoing treatment for depression or trying to manage feelings of low self-esteem or anxiety, contact us to learn more about the treatment methods that are right for you.