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Depression Q & A: Is Optimism A Mental Illness?

We are continuing with our weekly segment answering your questions about depression, anxiety, phobia and general life-problem. For the second edition of this segment, we are responding to questions for the website Quora. In the future, we hope to answer your questions, so please contact us via email or any of our social media accounts. All questions will be answered without using your name for reasons of anonymity.

How do you help your partner who has depression and anxiety? He likes to be alone and tends to sleep a lot.

First and foremost, to the person writing this question I want to say that your partner is very lucky to have you, and that I am sure that you are doing a great job. What strikes me as most prominent in your question is the fact that your partner sleeps a lot and wants to be alone. These are what we call control mechanisms. They are very dangerous. Control mechanisms are activities which people do in order to surpress their feelings i.e. binge drinking, watching tv for days on end, excessive sleeping, excessive exercise etc. Control mechanisms essentially kick the proverbial can down the road and tricks your mind into thinking that the issue is solved when in actual fact, it is growing bigger under the surface. Control mechanisms end up working against you and makes it harder for you to cure your depression. In this case, the person is sleeping a lot and wants to be alone. These are his/her two control mechanisms. What you need to do as a partner is to break this mould, get them out of the house, go for walks and establish a routine for your partner to live by. If the depression continues to persist, please seek a therapist.

Is optimism a mental illness?

I found this a very interesting question. Although I do not consider optimism to be a mental illness. I do want to stress society’s portrayal of happiness, optimism and positivity as something which always should be in our lives, as something counterproductive to the development of self-esteem. Human existence has its ups-and-downs and there can’t be good times without the bad. So again, no optimism is by no means a mental illness but it should not be considered as something that should be in your life permanently.

optimism depression

What We Do!

Cross Culture Therapy offers 1-on-1 online therapy sessions to people suffering from depression, phobia, anxiety as well as to people who suffer from displacement issues associated with a globally nomadic lifestyle (i.e.Third Culture Kids – people who have grown up in a culture different to their parent’s passport culture – and Cross Culture Kids) Our sessions are conducted via Skype for a duration of 50-minutes and can be purchased in packs of 1-session, 3-sessions or 5-sessions. If you are interested in purchasing a session, click on the Book A Session tab on our menu or click here.

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I’ve been diagnosed with depression. I’ve been an atheist all my life, but now I’m trying to believe the Christian God because I’ve read so many times that it would help me. Am I right by doing this?

Whereas I think organised religion has its benefits when it comes to offering people stability as well as a moral framework on which they can build their lives, I do not think that it can cure your depression. The reason for me believing so is that your depression can be deeply rooted in your past as well as what is happening now and may have certain psychological or psychosexual aspects to it. It may for example stem from an event in your past or your relationship with your parents and how it relates to your children. To overcome this depression, the best solution is to analyse and process it through intensive therapy.

Is following the successful people’s lifestyle making you become successful?

I chose to include this question in this week’s depression theme because I think that people’s view of success has so much to do with why people become depressed in the first place. A lot of people think that there is one definition for success and one plan for how to achieve it. The truth is there are many definitions for success and the plans vary depending on what you want to achieve. For someone who is suffering from depression, success would be to get out of the house for a couple of hours. For someone who is extremely overweight, success would be to find a suitable exercise plan or to go out for a walk. Success is in the eyes of the beholder and more than anything else, it is a process. Remember, if you are working towards your goal, you are in the process of success. Don’t get distracted by social media pictures where people are indoctrinating you with their definition of success, stick to yours and stick to your plan for it.

What are some strategies to deal with and overcome depression?

I have answered this question in an earlier post which I will link to. It really depends on how severe your depression is. Take the CPRS Depression Test. If you score a “severe depression” then your treatment would most typically start with antidepressants and go over to therapy sessions once the negative trend has been reversed. If your depression is “moderate” then you can start with therapy sessions straight away. If your depression is “mild” then you can treat it by eating fatty foods such as eggs, avocado and cheese, as well as exercising and socialising to raise serotonin levels.

Remember to send us your questions either by emailing to or by contacting us through facebook, instagram or twitter. All entries will be anonymous.

Philip Andersson

Life Coach

Cross Culture Therapy


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Philip Andersson – Life Coach

Philip Andersson is a life-coach who is currently studying to become a psychotherapist. He treats people suffering from depression, phobias and anxiety. Having been raised in Hong Kong and having lived in England and Japan as an adult, Philip also treats people who are overcome with feelings of displacement and rudderlessness associated with a global-nomad lifestyle such as Third Culture Kids, Cross Culture Kids, Migrants and Asylum Seekers.

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