Mobilize to Fight Depression

Many people who suffer with depression find themselves immobilized or unable to get motivated to perform normal everyday activities. The more depressed a person becomes the more immobilized they feel. The less they accomplish the more depressed they become. The reason for this is, that feeling immobilized is not only a symptom of depression, it is also a cause. This becomes a downward spiral of depression that causes a withdrawal from life and a self-imposed isolation – which also prolongs depression.

Activity Scheduling

Here is a simple solution is to push oneself to do more, to reach for a higher level of activity despite not wanting to or not being in the mood to do anything. Cognitive Behavior psychologists developed a technique known as “activity scheduling,” that is effective in re-energizing a depressed person, and can significantly aid in overcoming and reducing depression.

Make a List

The technique of scheduling involves making a list of two different types of activities. Simply make two columns. In the first column list what you feel are pleasurable activities. In the other column list those activities that give you a feeling of mastery. You can include those activities that might give you both pleasure and a feeling of mastery.

Make Your Chart

This program of activity scheduling begins by creating a simple weekly scheduling chart or spreadsheet. Begin by creating a grid of 8 vertical columns with 14 horizontal rows. Beginning at the top, second column write the days of the week across the top row of the page or spreadsheet. At the left column, second row, begin writing the hours of the day beginning with 6:00AM and ending with 6:00PM in the last row. When you are finished you will have a weekly grid with all seven days across the top and every hour going down the left side ending at 6:00PM. You will need 8 weekly schedules, so print or photocopy the original sheet.

Pleasure and Mastery

Next, write a brief description of your day’s activities inside each square. If you don’t know what activity in advance, fill in the squares when you have more time or when you return home. During the first week of activities, pay close attention to the two aspects of your experience, pleasure and mastery. If the activity that you performed gave you pleasure, write or type a “P” in the square and give it a pleasure rating on a scale of one to ten, one being minimal pleasure and ten being pure joy or maximum pleasure. Do the same for those activities that you performed that gave you a sense of mastery and write or type an “M” in that box, and give it a rating from one to ten, one being minimum mastery and difficult to accomplish, ten being an extreme sense of mastery and easy to accomplish. By the end of the first week you should have some squares with a “P” and some squares with an “M” with your individual ratings. It is important to rate these activities in the moment, not before you became depressed.

Keep Track

Keeping track of your pleasure and mastery activities is crucial in the first step, and may help you to recognize how your life has gotten out of balance. That many things you used to enjoy are no longer part of your week, or that your current activities don’t energize you or provide little nourishment. You will also as you rate your mastery activities that you still do things to cope and you are still trying hard, which are positive achievements just the same. You haven’t completely stopped trying.

Once you’ve completed your first week, you will be able to see times where you could have scheduled additional activities either for pleasure or mastery or both.

Add New Activities

Next, see if you can find at least ten hours during the week when you can schedule new pleasure or mastery activities to replace those ten that didn’t give you anything. Some unpleasant activities might not be able to be replaced such as school or work. Just work around those.

Make New Activities Lists for Later

Before your second week begins, make a new chart for the week and schedule in all your activities for the week that you know, including the replacement activities. In your spare time make two new lists of pleasurable activities and new mastery activities you would like to do. These can be very simple activities, like taking out the trash, folding the laundry, going to the library etc.

Try to Predict Rates of Achievement

For the following week write predictions on the new chart of the amount of pleasure or achievement they feel like to you during the planning. At the end of the week, compare your actual pleasure or achievement ratings with your predictions.

This can show how your depression may distort your thinking when planning and predicting. Also, it may show how your replacement activities are more rewarding in reality than you first thought. 

Weed Out Unrewarding Activities

Continue each new week by “weeding out” unrewarding activities and replacing them with potentially rewarding activities that you may have forgotten. Continue each new week in the same manner until you see significant satisfaction with both pleasure and mastery activities and a marked improvement in your level of depression.



This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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