Depression: Letting Go & Adjusting Your Goals

By: Aliya Mamdeen

Depression is an experience of extreme despair that may affect every aspect of one’s life. For an overly ambitious student, attaining all set goals could be daunting. Studies have shown that depression can stem from the inability to evaluate unattainable goals, which can lead to feelings of hopelessness and failure [1]. Scientist have also found that feelings of depression can present opportunities for people to let go of unattainable goals, or adjusting to unattainable goals [1, 2]. It is also seen that the ability to have flexibly to adjusting goals is also an important factor for mental health [2].

Psychologist believe the a lingered pursuit of unattainable goals in patients with depression may present with a negative effect such as distress leading to a deeper depressive state [2]. Goal disengagement can provide relief by reducing obligations and lingering stresses and a continued pursuit of unattainable goals can lead to an increased risk of depression [2]. If patients with depression can gain better ability in adapting their goals, it would change the way patients are treated during therapy [1].

According to researchers, useful approaches could be to isolate unattainable goals, which have led the patient to be depressed, and support the patients by disengaging them from the set goal [1]. A patient’s crisis could be an opportunity for personal improvement and an increase in overall wellbeing [1, 2], it can be useful to research to apply in order to change the way patients are treated in therapy [1].


[1] Koppe, K., & Rothermund, K. (2017). Let it go: Depression facilitates disengagement from unattainable goals. Journal Of Behaviour Therapy And Experimental Psychiatry, 54278-284. Doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2016.10.003

[2] Dickson, J. M., Moberly, N. J., O’Dea, C., &Field, M. (2016). Goal Fluency, Pessimism and Disengagement in Depression. Plos ONE, 11(11), 1-11. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0166259

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