Last month, I highlighted three characteristics of depressed people from the book Breaking the Patterns of Depression by Michael D. Yapko. Here is one more characteristic the author identified, followed by my thoughts on how this might relate to depression in individuals who are late-deafened.
Depressed people have a negative expectancy. Expectancy refers to a person’s anticipation of what is in store for them in the future. People can expect positive or negative things to happen. Depressed people believe their future will be filled with unhappiness. They continue to do things the same way as there is no expectancy that life can be better so therefore there is no reason to change.
Deafness is most often permanent. So it is easy to see how people who find themselves deaf can develop a negative expectancy. They seem to get stuck in the stage of depression because the future appears to be very dim. Their thoughts may go something like this: “It’s a struggle to understand. It’s not going to get any better either. If anything, the hearing is going to get worse. It’s not enjoyable going out anymore. It’s better to stay home where it safe from misunderstandings and all of the embarrassment they bring. It’s a disaster going to social events anymore. They will only turn out awful, so why bother going?” This kind of thinking, negative expectancy, kind of squashes any desire to make changes in one’s life.
Obviously, a late-deafened person is going to need to make some changes in life if they hope to reach the stage of acceptance. A few possible changes might be to learn sign language, learn effective communication strategies, and obtain communication assistive devices. Other changes are ones that take place inside the soul. A very important change that needs to take place is in the perception of the future. If a late-deafened person stops focusing on the DIS-ability, he/she can develop other abilities. Life will be different, but it can still be a very good life. One can expect happiness again. Yapko says that expectancy is so important that it is the single most factor in determining how long a person stays depressed and if they will ever recover.
Yapko, M. (1997). Breaking the patterns of depression. New York: Doubleday.
(A reprint of an article I wrote 20 years ago, when I was the founding President of ALDA-Suncoast of Florida, a support group for people who have become deaf. The article appeared in the newsletter, ALDA-Sun. At the time, I was going back to school to change professions from being a foreign language teacher to becoming a mental health counselor.)