April 4, 2022

Understanding How Positive Psychology Can Help to Overcome Depression

Written by Rachel Eddins

Posted in Depression and with tags: depression, types of therapy

positive psychology helped this woman overcome depression

Depression is a common mental health concern that affects people from all walks of life. There are different types of depression, but the symptoms are similar. People who experience depression typically find that it disrupts many aspects of their lives, from their careers to their relationships.

Depression can also take a physical toll, if it is chronic, due to issues like insomnia, poor eating habits, and a lack of physical activity.

Anti-depressants are often prescribed for people with persistent depression. However, this is not the only tool that can be used to treat the issue.

Positive psychology can be helpful in improving or even overcoming depression if used appropriately. Here’s how.

Treating Different Types of Depression

People often use the blanket term “depression” to encompass all different types of depression. However, there’s a difference between someone with temporary symptoms of depression, brought on by a loss or a major life change, and someone who struggles with chronic clinical depression.

The methods of treating someone with depression symptoms will vary based on the type of depression and the individual. For some individuals, interventions like grief counseling can make a big difference. Others may need medication, combined with counseling and/or positive psychology techniques.

What is Positive Psychology?

Positive psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on the positive factors that affect the human experience. For most people, factors like fulfillment and self-actualization are key to creating a happy life.

There is a difference between surviving and thriving—positive psychology is intended to help people thrive.

Most people know that there’s more to life than checking all the boxes. You can have a high-paying job, get married, and have children, yet still feel miserable.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” picture of happiness and fulfillment. Depression can also make an otherwise good life feel difficult.

Because of its applications in industries like the business world, positive psychology is often seen solely as a tool for helping people to thrive, rather than for treating mental illness. However, it can play a major role in helping people who are struggling with depression overcome it and begin to thrive. 

Positive Psychology for Building Up Mental Assets

Depression is extremely disruptive to daily life and may or may not improve without treatment. It is considered a mental health disorder that should be addressed for a person’s well-being. However, positive psychology can play an important role in treating depression by not only addressing the issues that are causing problems but by building up a person’s “mental assets.”

Many people struggle with poor self-esteem, lack of meaning, and low levels of fulfillment, which can make depression worse.

Building up a person’s sense of self and fulfillment can not only help them overcome depression but allow them to build mental assets that can help them become more resilient in the future. Positive psychology isn’t about “thinking happy thoughts,” it’s about creating meaning and purpose that is self-sustaining and improves overall well-being. 

Using the PERMA Model

The PERMA Model is one of the pillars of positive psychology and was developed by one of the branch’s founders, Martin Seligman. It’s a holistic model that takes the most important areas of our lives into account. PERMA stands for:

Positive Emotion

Positive emotions in this context refers to optimism. It’s not realistic to think positive thoughts during every moment of the day—we all have problems. Rather, this component of the model is intended to help people build more optimism into their lives and put their emotions into perspective.


Most people are happiest when they’re engaged with the world around them. When you get excited about participating in an activity and become absorbed in it, you are highly engaged. Increasing engagement levels and time spent on engaging activities can lead to improved satisfaction.


Strong connections with loved ones, including friends and family, are essential to our well-being. Focusing on love, support, and intimacy within these relationships is a critical component of positive psychology.


We all have different definitions of what a meaningful life looks like. When we search for meaning, we are able to feel more fulfilled and build motivation to achieve our highest goals. It’s easy to lose sight of meaning, which is why so many people feel unfulfilled and adrift in their daily lives.


Everyone deserves to feel proud of what they’ve accomplished. However, many people don’t realize how much they have already achieved or need to challenge themselves to accomplish things that they can feel good about.

Examples of Positive Psychology Exercises

There are many techniques that can be used to help someone reach their full potential with positive psychology. When being used to treat depression, the goals for these exercises may be modified somewhat initially, but should eventually lead to building up mental assets for the present and future.

Some examples of exercises in positive psychology include:

Individuals who are integrating positive psychology into their depression treatment plan may also need to implement other well-being strategies, such as diet changes, increased exercise, and a focus on quality sleep.

Only a mental health professional can safely tailor a treatment plan to suit the needs of a specific individual.

working with a therapist using positive psychology for depression

Other Benefits of Positive Psychology

There are many benefits of positive psychology—it’s a strategy anyone can use to improve their lives. Because it focuses on creating meaning and self-actualization, positive psychology has the potential to enhance every area of a person’s life.

People who are able to implement positive psychology techniques may find that they experience beneficial perspective shifts, find more gratitude in their lives, and enjoy improved well-being and mood stability.

Those who practice positive psychology also may find that they gain more acceptance from peers, provide a positive influence to those around them, and enjoy more success overall.

Are There Downsides of Positive Psychology?

A study out of the University of Bolton indicated that positive psychology can be helpful in treating symptoms of depression. Researchers did note, however, that it is best used in conjunction with other treatment methods and can take a long time to be effective. This isn’t surprising, as reaching self-actualization is a process that requires extensive reflection and dedication.

Overall, there are very few downsides to using positive psychology as a tool, whether you’re trying to overcome depression or simply want to lead a more fulfilling life.

However, it’s most effective when practiced under the supervision of an experienced mental health professional with experience in positive psychology.

Depression Can Affect Anyone—Positive Psychology Can Help

The COVID-19 has been an enormous collective crisis that has had an impact on the mental health and well-being of people all over the world. Because these kinds of crises affect everyone, it’s easy to downplay their impact.

But the reality is that we’re coping with tremendous traumatic grief and it’s understandable that many people are experiencing symptoms of depression as a result.

If you find that you’re struggling with depression for any reason, it’s important to realize that reaching out and finding help isn’t an overreaction. You deserve the help and support you need, whether you’re struggling with your mental health as the result of the pandemic or for any other reason.

Your mental health professional can help you overcome depression and thrive, with the use of positive psychology and other effective techniques.

To get started with an Eddins Counseling Group depression therapist in Houston, Montrose, or Sugar Land, call (832) 559-2622 or text (832) 699-5001 us today!

Blog Categories