Ketan Bhatt

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The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time, by Alex Korb

June 22, 2020 self-improvement

Some notes from The Upward Spiral

  1. Be ok with “good enough”. Don’t try to make every decision perfectly. It leads to anxiety. Don’t try to be the perfect parent, be a good parent. Don’t try to make the perfect dinner, make it good enough. Don’t try to plan the perfect date/birthday party, just make it good enough.
  2. ABCs of anxiety: Alarm. Belief. Coping. This is what defines how you get and cope with anxiety.

    • Alarm: You notice something. Heart palpating. Or rustling of grass (lion?).
    • Belief: You believe it is something else. Happens unconsciously so you have no control over it. You have had a previous experience before when there was actually a lion in the long grass, your mind automatically connects these two things.
    • Coping: How do you cope? You can freak out. Or eat ice cream. These are both unhelpful mechanism of coping. You could instead talk to a friend or exercise.
  3. Recognize that you have anxiety. That calms you down. Instead of coping by worrying about it.
  4. Mostly when you are worrying about something, you are actually anxious about a different issue. Try and identify that issue, and then set it aside and focus on the present.

    • Eg: You are packing gifts for your child’s birthday and worry that you won’t be done in time. Maybe you are actually affected by the fact that you think your spouse doesn’t help you enough? Or that your mother is too critical of you.
    • Make a note about the actual cause and then move on.
    • Putting words to emotions also has a calming effect. So when you identify (or even if you don’t) the reason for your anxiety, and say that you are just sad about something, you calm yourself down, and you can go ahead with what you were doing and making sure you do it good enough.
  5. Our brains are wired to automatically focus on negative things more easily. You will have to notice multiple good things before you can balance the effect of noticing one bad thing.

    • People who have a tendency to notice negatives more than normal are more at risk to get into depression.
    • When you are depressed, your mind focuses on these negative things for longer, and you brood.

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