Learning positive coping statements for depression left me wondering if they really work?
Is that whole mind over matter idea a “real thing?” A coping statement is a way to frame our attitude towards an event. Very often, we cannot control the event. Not having control, for me, is a big deal. I begin to feel a bit anxious. If I cannot rely on myself to be in control, I begin to shy away from the event. Or I can be a deer in headlights, not being sure of what to do and ultimately doing nothing.
I went searching on line to see what research has been done on coping skills.
It turns out there is research into all kinds of coping statements including those related to coping skills for depression and anxiety. The majority of what has been studied is related in some way to pain coping skills. It turns out the entire body of research spans a wide area which includes:
- athletic coping skills
- coping skills training
- substance abuse coping skills
- stress coping skills
- anger coping skills
- health practices coping skills
- coping skills relapse
- personal health coping skills
While the application is different, the conclusions are almost always the same.
Positive Coping Statements Work.
The name of this research study caught my attention; How Do I cope With Pain? Let Me Count The Ways: awareness of pain-coping behaviors and relationships with depression and anxiety. The researchers looked at how people used coping statements to manage pain. They discovered that some people did not recognize what they were doing as a coping skill. The conclusion of the study found:
The use of self-talk coping statements reduced depression and anxiety.
This is exciting news. But news I had discovered as I was introduced to positive coping statements when I was hospitalized for MDD. There findings are below. Click on the end of the citation to get access to the entire study.
Patients with chronic pain are often undertreated with medications alone and need alternative ways of coping. Identifying pain coping skills patients use may be beneficial; however, no research has investigated whether patients are aware of their coping skills. The purpose of this study was to determine whether patients are aware of their pain coping skills, whether certain patient characteristics were related to using coping strategies, and whether coping strategies were related to psychiatric symptoms.
Chart reviews were conducted on seventy-eight chronic pain patients who completed a semi-structured psychological interview. Patients endorsed using more coping strategies on the measure compared to the verbal self-report. Identifying with certain patient demographics was related to higher use of some coping strategies. Symptoms of anxiety and depression were also related to the use of some coping strategies.
Anxiety was negatively related to ignoring the pain and using self-talk coping statements and positively related to catastrophizing. Depression was negatively related to the use of distraction, ignoring the pain, and using self-talk coping statements. Depression and pain severity were both positively related to catastrophizing and prayer. Results suggest that clinicians may need to help patients become aware of adaptive coping strategies they already use and that the use of certain coping strategies is related to lower levels of depression and anxiety
Lisa R. Miller-Matero, Katie Chipungu, Sarah Martinez, Anne Eshelman & David Eisenstein (2017) How do I cope with pain? Let me count the ways: awareness of pain-coping behaviors and relationships with depression and anxiety, Psychology, Health & Medicine, 22:1, 19-27, DOI: 10.1080/13548506.2016.1191659
The use of certain coping strategies is related to lower levels of depression and anxiety.Lisa R. Miller-Matero, Katie Chipungu, Sarah Martinez, Anne Eshelman & David Eisenstein (2017)
That quote about the researcher’s conclusions is a positive confirmation that coping statements work.
One interesting finding was that people did not always recognize that they were using positive coping statements. Doing something that you find helps you is smart. And getting relief from pain by changing your focus often makes the difference in getting by and feeling like you are suffering. Before I began using positive coping statements, my days were cloudy, unfocused, and sad.
All I saw was a wall.
Nothing else. No joy, no fear, anger, excitement, or even disgust. Experiencing any core emotion was way beyond my thoughts. Just getting through enough of the day so that I did not feel too guilty when I went to bed, was all I could hope for. I did this off and on for over 40 years. Last year, the wall and I were so close, nothing could come between us. I felt welded to the wall. That was probably the only thing that kept me out of the abyss.
Making the decision to seek professional medical help, my outlook began to change.
This change was and still is, proceeding at a snail’s pace. It took months before I first realized I might get through this slow process. And getting my life back is worth it and more. Positive coping statements have played a role in getting me to see that I have control over my thoughts. I don’t have control over depression, but I do have control over how I think about depression.
Positive coping statements work.
- I may have ups and downs, but my life is a wonderful adventure.
- This is tough, but I can get through it.
- I’m not looking forward to this, but I am strong and I have done this before
- I can ask better questions when I feel unsure about how I feel about the event.
Sending yourself negative affirmations will increase your stress level. Sending yourself positive affirmations will help you to feel more peaceful. When we know a situation is going to be unpleasant, we often tell ourselves how awful or terrible it is going to be. As a result, we may actually cause the situation to be just as bad as we think or worse.Mrs. Knight is a licensed counselor and school counselor.
Not repeating all of the catastrophic endings my depression can concoct is, for me, the starting place for positive coping statements.
Just deciding whether consciously or unconsciously to not go down the unhelpful thinking path is the first step. From there, it is reframing the thought in a positive way.
This situation is frightening, but not deadly. I can handle it as I have done in the past.
I have collected over 100 positive coping statements, you can see my collection when you CLICK HERE
Next time you are facing a potentially stressful situation, give some of these positive coping statements a try. If they don’t work, you are already anxious about the event. But if these coping statements do work… Imagine how confident you can be when you decide how you will frame an event. Just like most things, the path is not a straight line. But I am much more confident today and I owe much of that to being in control of what I think.
Your thoughts, personal results, and any positive coping statements you personally use are welcome. Leave me a comment.