Preventing Depression: Better to Try Than do Nothing

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Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

One does not have to be a fan of Country Western music nor of Garth Brooks. However, there is one song he wrote that is poignant and meaningful. These are the basic lyrics:

“The River,” written by Garth Brooks and Victoria Shaw:


“You know a dream is like a river
Ever changin’ as it flows
And a dreamer’s just a vessel
That must follow where it goes
Trying to learn from what’s behind you
And never knowing what’s in store
Makes each day a constant battle
Just to stay between the shores.. and

Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away
‘Til what we put off ’til tomorrow
Has now become today
So don’t you sit upon the shoreline
And say you’re satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance the tide.. yes

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And there’s bound to be rough waters
And I know I’ll take some falls
But with the good Lord as my captain
I can make it through them all.. yes

I will sail my vessel
‘Til the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky
I’ll never reach my destination
If I never try
So I will sail my vessel
‘Til the river runs dry”


“I will never reach my destination if I never try.” How many of us feel depressed because we do not try to reach our destination. The destination is not a place but a mind set. It has to do with striving to achieve one’s dreams. Too many of us give up our dreams for one reason or another. We convince ourselves that we don’t have the ability, money, time or energy to reach for what we hope for. We convince ourselves that our dreams and ambitions are unrealistic and impossible. In the end, we end up feeling depressed, bitter and unsatisfied with our lives.

Of course, I can hear some of you saying, “Come on, Dr. Schwartz, all of this is nonsense. In real life, it’s impossible to get what we want.” There may be some truth to this. However, the theme of the song is, if you never try you will never reach your destination. What is the old saying about romance, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Maybe it’s not true that it’s better to have “loved and lost.” Attempting to achieve one’s dreams, to win the one who is desired, brings with it a lot of risk. There is the possibility of losing, of not getting there, and of defeat.

Everyone’s destination is different. Some people may aspire to becoming a medical doctor, dentist, lawyer, driver of a big sixteen wheel rig, actor, fisherman on the Bering Sea, soldier or Marine, Navy Seal, pilot or a captain in the Army or Navy. Perhaps the dream is to have children, or to live a peaceful and happy life. Maybe the dream is to go camping, something you never did before. If one does not at least make an effort to achieve goals, then there will never be a chance of getting anywhere near them.

Recently, I read about a father and daughter who went missing while hiking in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. It appears that they fell and died during their journey. I wondered to myself, “Why did they take that risk? Surely, they must have known there was danger?” I ask myself why some people risk their lives to climb Mount Everest despite the fact that climbers die every year attempting to reach the summit? Why do people risk their lives going rock climbing knowing if they fall they can suffer fatal injuries?

In my opinion, many of us avoid working toward our dreams not only because we may risk failure, but because we fear we could die in the attempt or die before we could get there. More will be said about this in a future blog.

Remember, all of us must face the fact that in the end, “the river will run dry.” Life is finite. Do we want to sit on the sidelines and watch life go by or do we want to make the effort?

The final point: Don’t get depressed over what you did not do. Instead, begin doing some of what you want or, at least, come up with a plan.

Read the lyrics and think about your dreams. Are you thinking about how to reach you goals or have you given up?

Your comments are encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.

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