Depression: 5 ways you’re making it worse
Depression is one of the most prevalent mental disorders, affecting approximately 16 million adults in the United States.
you’re playing the victim
Too often I see depressed clients who feel that they’re the target of everyone’s anger, hatred, loathing, and blame. They’re internalizing all of the bad, and participating in a behavior known as “learned helplessness.” Basically it means things have sucked for so long you expect them to keep sucking. While it may make sense in logic, it doesn’t as far as your brain’s health is concerned.
The more often you’re negative, the better your brain becomes at being negative automatically. The same is true for positivity. I love Dr. Daniel Amen’s work on automatic negative thinking – you can check him out here.
One of the best things you can do for your depression is *try* to think positively, even if it seems ridiculous and totally unreasonable.
Therapist tip: Finish each day by listing three things you’re grateful for and three things that went well that day.
you’re only focusing on the negative
I explained this a little in the point above, but it’s really a HUGE driver in how successfully you’ll overcome the depression.
Individuals suffering from depression tend to see everything through lenses that negatively skew life. When someone with depression gets forgotten about on their birthday, rather than think “I’m sure that person cares about me and is just so busy with their own stuff they forgot!,” they think “no one cares about me and this just drives that fact home.”
Try thinking of all the other possible explanations for your bad experience. Maybe your boyfriend is late for your date because he’s stuck in traffic. Perhaps your boss completely forgot about the raise he promised you and just needs a polite little reminder. There are always a million positive spins you can put on a situation before assuming the worse.
Therapist tip: Start forcing yourself to think of at least three possible explanations for every troublesome situation you encounter that was outside of your control.
you’re depending on others to fix the problem
This idea refers to “locus of control” in psychology. Too often, individuals suffering from depression feel their progress is totally outside of their control and they must rely on others to fix the problem.
While it’s true that there are probably factors outside of your control that have caused the depression (i.e. childhood trauma, wonky brain chemicals, etc.), you’re the only person who can fix the problem. Maybe your mom is a sociopath and has told you how stupid you are you’re entire life. That sucks. That really, really sucks. But waiting on your mom to apologize is not helping your depression. If she’s really a sociopath, she’s probably never going to even acknowledge that she’s got a problem, much less take responsibility for the trouble she’s caused.
Whether it’s a breakup, abuse, serious illness, or any other trauma, you can’t wait on the issue to be resolved before you start pushing through the depression.
If you’re waiting on said sociopathic mom to give an apology so you have permission to heal, you’re going to be waiting a while. And during that time, your depression is going to continue it’s downward spiral.
Therapist tip: Make a list of all of the things that are within your control and outside of your control. I’ll help you get started: inside of your control > attitude, behavior, listening, thinking: outside of your control > other people’s words, the weather, traffic.
you refuse to look for help
Or maybe you’ve looked for help in a half-hearted sort of way. Or maybe you’re refusing to accept the help others have offered you. Either way, you’re not getting better.
There are so many resources out there to help with depression: 7 Cups, Talkspace, Calm, books, counselors, doctors. I could go on and on. And don’t let money be an excuse to sit and do nothing about depression. There are tons of low-cost resources available in communities such as low income clinics and counseling interns.
Do a Google search and REALLY look!
Therapist tip: Try downloading the Calm app and doing a guided meditation. You might actually enjoy it!
you’ve gotten too comfortable with depression
I firmly believe that the individuals who are most ill don’t even realize they’re ill. Too often a depressed person has lived with the depression for so long they don’t realize what a hole they’ve fallen into. It’s become their “normal” and it’s just too easy to lean into the depressive mood and give into it.
You call in to work to stay in bed and watch Netflix. You go days without showering and just put on clean clothes and more deodorant. You’ve got a database of excuses to give friends and family when they invite you out of the house. It’s like you’ve laid down to accept the inevitable and you’re slowly wasting away in your cocoon of misery.
It’s not helping. Like, even a little bit. No doubt, we should all be mindful of self care and taking time to do things we enjoy. One of my favorite self care practices is laying in bed playing mindless games on my phone and watching History channel documentaries on Amazon Prime. But I don’t call in to work to do it. There’s got to be balance in life.
I can guarantee you that even the healthiest people don’t always feel like getting up early and going to work; but they do it anyway. They suck it up, drag themselves into the shower, and put their happy face on until they can get back home at the end of the day.
You’re not alone in your pain and frustration and apathy and fatigue. Like I said earlier, millions of people in the US are struggling with depression.
But we have to fight it. We have to say “I see you depression, but you’re not ruining my day. Or my life. You’re a jerk.”
Therapist tip: Make a list of reasons depression is a jerk. I promise it’ll make you feel better.
If you’re in the Northeast Texas area, I’d love to work with you. Call or text me at 903 646 2404 or email me at Jodi.Spencer@iCloud.com.
You can read more about me on my About page.