This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on TBI and Depression. Dr. Samantha Artherholt discusses Relieving Depression After TBI Through Activity.

So, this is something that I talk about a lot with my patients, and it’s the idea of behavioral activation, which is a part of cognitive behavioral therapy. And I think of it as a three-legged stool of there’s the social activity, the recreational activity, and the physical activity. And you really do need to have elements of all of those to maximize your mood and to really give yourself the best chance to have an improvement in mood.

There’s a lot of great evidence that remaining active in all of those areas is really important to help with depression. So, those are the things that I talk to my patients about a lot in terms of kind of thinking about what pieces can you bring in from each of those areas to help you with mood.

Sometimes it’s as small as like starting with walking to the mailbox and back and then, you know, trying to figure out how we can build on that. Or with social activity, they might not be feeling ready to really connect with a lot of friends or whatever, but it might be something like calling one person and then trying to figure out how you can build on that because the tendency with depression is to really want to isolate. And there’s this lack of motivation that’s inherent in a lot of depressed individuals that is really kind of hard to manage.

And it’s a very cyclical thing. So, people feel bad, then they do less, then they feel worse, and it’s kind of downward from there. And so it’s really a matter of kind of pushing back against that and starting small if we need to to kind of try to think about okay, what’s one thing that you can do today to try to kind of help yourself climb out of this? And then we can build from there.

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