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Is Depression a Learnt Behavior?

This week we are going to touch on a subject that can be delicate. It’s also topical if you live in Australia because you would most likely have heard or read about the death of Charlotte Dawson.

Now I so rarely watch TV or follow the media that I didn’t know about her struggle, but of course I do use social media and so was compelled to read further as so many articles popped up. And I learnt about her struggle with depression that eventually led to a suicide this weekend.

Knowing depression and suicide can always be prevented made me want to share the key behavioural theories and the tools that coaching and NLP uses to really successfully overcome these problems.

Now, as with anything in personal coaching, my approach is direct and puts the individual in the drivers seat, showing how we are individually responsible for our own thoughts and emotions, which also means that the solution too is found inside ourselves. And that of course is a great thing!

So, what I’m going to share with you is written with love and with highest service to anyone struggling with depression, which means that it must be direct, as beating around the bush and sympathy is what is least helpful in finally cracking the hold of depression. Empathy and knowing how depression can be overcome is a hell of a lot more empowering and future focused and already a step away from the problem to the non-problem. A step closer towards a compelling future.

So here’s some key fundamentals to ways in which we can overcome depression through understanding human behaviour psychology:



Did you know that depression is one of the fastest ways to meet all of the 4 fundamental human needs; certainty, variety, connection & love and significance. The problem is that it’s of course an un-resourceful way to meet these needs.

Depression is a really powerful behaviour strategy to meet, in particular, the need for love & connection (this is easy to understand) and significance (loved ones take note even if before they didn’t) and it also meets the need for certainty (being in the depressed state is familiar and a lot more safe than having to face the reality of having to confront their fears and put themselves out in the world fully), and finally, most people who suffer with depression also have issues with anger, and depression gives variety to their feelings. Moving from anger to depression to anger and so forth is a very common behaviour pattern that meets the need for variety (and significance again with anger). It’s also the fastest way to destroy any romantic relationship, but that’s another article!

If you have or are currently suffering from depression – check in with yourself and see if any of the above resonates with you.

My free ebook also explores these core needs in full detail, including exercises to find new and functional ways to meet these needs so the depression can go. And of course, this plays out in everything we do, so I believe knowing about these is fundamental for all of us!



What we also know about depression is that sometimes there are two other patterns present. In terms of Charlotte, I can tell that she was an amazingly giving woman who contributed to others in a huge way so this is not referring to her. In fact, I want to be clear that none of this is referring to her. Her story simply ignited my desire to share some of the theories and tools that I have found useful with my clients, for them to start living truly fulfilling lives.

These patterns are:

People with deep depression rarely practice gratitude. And what I mean by practice is by daily getting into a state of gratitude where we feel the gratitude for all the things that we do have in our life and let that feeling go though every cell of our body. In this state it is impossible to be depressed. The more often you get to this state and have the physical shift and get to experience, to truly feel gratitude, the less room there is for depression.

People with depression often do not have big enough element of contribution to others in their lives. And in that place, where we might spend too much time focusing on ourselves, there is too much room for depression. So one of the first things if this resonates, is to find ways to contribute, to realise that our highest purpose is not about us, but how we can help others.

As said, I’m not saying that all of this may be true of any particular individual suffering from depression, but this is what often comes up.


What is great about this is that all of the above can be changed. We can absolutely overcome depression. There is nothing deep down wrong with anyone with depression. Deep down they are as pure and whole as everyone on this earth. It simply depends if they really want it. Are they the kind of person who really, really wants to change it.

I know that some of the concepts explored can be controversial as there is a high level of individual responsibility that is asked for. And that is also exactly why it’s totally possible to change depression to more fulfilling states of being, as we all have the tools inside us to do this.


Finally, if you have any questions on the concepts explored I’m just an email away at [email protected] and as always I’m here to answer any of your questions and can help you unpack anything that might have come up for you in further detail.

FREE MINI COURSE: 10 Days to Consistent Coaching Clients & Big Juicy Pay Days! Learn how I booked 24 discovery calls in just 7 days.

Serena Sandstrom is a Success and Business Coach for Coaches and Consultants.

Serena works with her clients to achieve personal, business and coaching mastery through strategic business planning, overcoming inner limits and cultivating wealth consciousness.

Serena is the creator of Coaches MBA, a 6 month training program for early stage coaches and The Art of Impactful Selling, a 6-week self study program in sales skills and wealth consciousness.

Serena also works with a limited number of 1:1 coaching clients for those desiring the highest level of support and mentoring to build a 6-figure coaching business.