“Get started by mapping your depressive symptoms using a holistic approach.”
Today’s CHANGES Deep Dive
In a previous article reviewing 25 tips for improving depression, we provided a brief overview of our go-to holistic approach to care using the CHANGES model. We heard from many of our readers wanting a drill-down into the specifics nuances – We chose to put our response into the format of a podcast episode!
Engage with us as we discuss the first in a two part series on the CHANGES model. While using the complex symptoms associated with clinical depression as an example, we walk through the CHANGES model elements, in this first step designed to help you map your personal experience of dysphoric mood.
The model is straight forward, but does require some explanation. We strongly suggest that you write down each of the seven interdependent parts in an effort to gain insight into using this biopsychosocial approach for improving symptoms. If you are into journaling, then you are on the right track!
The CHANGES Model – Applied Positive Psychology
Applied Positive Psychology methods, such as the CHANGES Model, offers a proactive holistic approach for personal transformation. The theory provides a broad set of considerations for understanding both the current state and future direction for lifestyle change:
- C – Cognition: Well established patterns of thoughts lead to emotional states. What we think, we become.
- H – Health: There are physiological reactions to the patterns we participate in, whether from thoughts, behaviours, or the people we spend time with. Poor health outcomes are a particularly clear form of feedback that something is not going well.
- A – Actions: We participate in a range of behaviours that either support or work against the challenges we face in life. The maladaptive behavioural choices we make are often indicative of underlying problems.
- N – eNvironment: Our physical surroundings have an impact on our state of being. Understanding this relationship is important in mapping future direction.
- G – Goals: It is important to consider both long-term and short-term goals when mapping change. We often make the mistake of only focusing on the broader outcomes.
- E – Emotions: Consider emotions your primary source of feedback about how well, or not, things are going. While the other elements can be adjusted as part of a future focused plan, emotions are typically the result of interacting dynamics between other parts of the CHANGES model.
- S – Social Environment: The people in our life matter. They often respond to the challenges we face by providing support, or encouraging ongoing decline.
Change One, Change Them All
Every change we make has massive impact. Once formally mapped, changing one element impacts the others. Think of it like a network of string interlaced together. As one element improves (or declines), the others quickly follow. As you refocus your goals on other elements, the synergistic effect causes momentum towards meeting your overarching goal.
Map Your Symptoms (Clinical Depression)
In today’s episode, after reviewing the specifics of the model, we use the symptoms associated with Clinical Depression as an example for mapping your current state. Every idiopathic presentation of dysphoria can quickly be mapped by cognitive pattern, behaviour, physiological outcomes, etc. If you are listening to this episode and live with depression, it is helpful to following along by writing down your own personal experience.
In closing, it is important to note that the CHANGES model has multiple applications. It can be used for making significant changes in mental health. It can also be used for identifying personal road blocks and creating a path to meet the goals you desire. For instance, if you want to break into an exercise routine, the model can help you identify potential areas of challenge and conflict, as you develop your personal map.
Looking for a deeper drill down? Head on over to, “FMP 010 • Vegan Love and Conquering Depression Using the CHANGES Model (Part Two)”.