People have good reasons to use these methods to cope with depression—they are desperately trying to get relief. For short periods, or in certain ways, these methods can even work. But sooner or later, they not only stop working but cause more depression.
If you’re taking any of these actions, it’s a sign that you need some help to avoid your depression getting worse. Depression can sometimes be too powerful to overcome alone.
1. Isolating yourself from other people and not telling or showing anyone how bad you are feeling?
2. Eating more sugar, chocolate, or white flour, drinking more alcohol, or taking more drugs or medications?
3. Starting arguments, working all the time, depriving yourself of sleep, or compulsively engaging in other activities that are mood altering and potentially destructive in order to elevate your mood?
4. Not seeking out and allowing yourself to feel every tiny bit of joy or pleasure you can possibly find, without pursuing ones that also hurt you?
5. Spending time listening to the criticism in your head that makes a case against your value as a human being, or the value of your life? This can include thinking about ways you’ve failed or reasons to believe you’re unlovable, for example. In this mode, people string together every possible piece of “evidence” that they are worthless or that their life is hopeless, leaving out any contradictory evidence. This process is very convincing to the person making the case, and sometimes even to the people around them.
6. Not doing daily aerobic exercise, or at least 30-60 minutes of fast walking daily? Research shows that an hour of vigorous exercise every day can be a very effective antidepressant.
7. Telling yourself you should just get over it or that you can stand it longer, hoping it will go away? Depression does damage to us physically and socially. Often trying to be tough causes people to wait too long to get treatment, when it becomes harder to repair and heal from the damage.
If you are trying to cope in these ways and you can see that it’s not working, please get professional help to figure out what is causing your depression, and what treatment will relieve it without destructive consequences.
© Copyright 2010 by Cynthia W. Lubow, MS, MFT, therapist in El Cerrito, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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