7 Mistakes People Often Make When They Get Depressed

Depressed woman sitting on stepsPeople 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.

Are you:

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. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Butler

    July 6th, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    I lost my job more than a year ago n just cant seem to find a decent full-time job…this has definitely left me depressed and I answered a yes to most of the questions mentioned above…I am worried about this now and the last thing that my family would ant is me in therapy,I cant afford it.

  • Ian C

    July 7th, 2010 at 2:31 AM

    my mom was very depressed when she lost her mother because she was very close to her. thankfully I knew its dangers and swung into action right away. I took my mom to a therapist and the therapist was actually happy to see that I got her to therapy well in time. this helped my mom’s treatment and it was much easier for her because she was in a very early stage of depression. I just hope general physicians are in a position to direct people who do not know much about depression.

  • Jon

    July 7th, 2010 at 4:22 AM

    I know that when I went through my own situation with being depressed I did not want to be around anyone. I had as little contact with others as possible until some good friends of mine blatantly pointed out just how much I was isolating myself from others and forced me to seek help and get back in the game. It was so hard to answer that wake up call but I am so thankful that I did!


    July 7th, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    Whenever something is bothering me and is threatening to pull my mood and spirits down,I try and hang out with my best friends and it does the trick.if that is not possible,I try and do an activity,most often exercise,to get my mind off the issue and distract myself.

  • Cynthia Lubow

    July 29th, 2010 at 12:57 AM

    Thank you all for sharing what has worked! Butler, if you live near a masters program for therapists, or a community organization where student therapists get training, you may be able to afford therapy. Sometimes these places don’t charge anything for people who have no money, and often they have very low fees, depending on your income. In the San Francisco East Bay, where I am, we have quite a few of these choices. Please consider finding someone to talk to about what you’re going through. It’s so hard to deal with depression without help.

  • Jp

    November 11th, 2010 at 7:38 AM

    I was diagnoised with depression and than bipolar. I’ve been more on the depression end and have done all types of drugs. The doctor Im seeing right now put me on trileptal. Im always looking for side effects. Been on disability for years and have worked too but now my medical bills are sky high and just afraid Im not going to ever have a normal life. I turn 37 this month and just afraid Im not going to ever be able to be on my own which is scary because if not for my mother I wouldn’t have help filling paper work. I lost my dad and sister won’t talk to me. I feel lost and my therapist isn’t helping. Please tell me there is hope and that people can turn their life around in their older years late thirties. I feel there is no hope sometimes..

  • nona

    October 13th, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    i am a newcomer in canada and everything is so hard for me.i recently married. immigration and marriage together made me tired mentally. i really have bad days. i dont know the citi, i dont have ohip! and i need professional help.anyone can help me?

  • Zenab

    July 20th, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    Life is so complicated for me.I’ve got depression because I’m too shy.People would talk about how I pass wind and stink, but they didn’t know I had constipation.So now,almost everyone I used to talk to no longer are my friends.and because of my shyness they started making more fun of me and spreading this around.So ten I had depression and I felt like my life was going to end there.I mean I don’t care about having fun anymore.It’s as if life is just so temporary.I’m too shy that I can’t even face anyone anymore.I have these negative thoughts in my head that makes me feel worse.I mean, I don’t want to drop out of school, but I can’t do it.Not with this condition.

  • Cynthia Lubow, MFT

    July 20th, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    JP, yes, 37 is not too old to turn your life around, but it won’t be easy. You will have to look for ways to take more responsibility for yourself and find the courage to follow through on that. If you can find a therapist who is very very experienced with bi-polar, that might help.

    Nona, I hope you found a therapist–therapy can help!

    Zenab, have you gotten medical treatment for your condition? If a regular doctor hasn’t helped, try a naturopath or an accupuncturist. Having your body function normally seems like an important part of working through your shyness. Group therapy or individual therapy could be helpful too.

  • Vasu C Murthy, L.C.S.W.R

    January 21st, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Depression is a treatable condition and choose your treatment options depending on severity of your conditions.

    Like Diabetes & hypertension, depression has both chronic and acute symtoms. When acute & severe, suicide or self hurting behaviors do emerge.

    Most people believe, though wrongly that depression will go away like seasonal flu and do not understand the chemical imbalances in those stages where they take some missteps. Speak to a professional, and get the help. Treatments like CBT or other psychotherapy methods need to be tried and in cases where there has to be some psychotropic meds, get it as it will surely alleviate your depression. Treatments are not as dramatic like insulin in diabetes, but they are definitely helpful

    Vasu C. Murthy

  • sandy

    July 22nd, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    Prob all of the above
    Funny thibg is noone knows bout it…

  • Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D.

    July 23rd, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    Pretty good list, but for the ableist recommendation about exercise. I’d post it on my Facebook professional page if that were amended to say something more along the lines of fresh air and sunshine, if it’s available to you, e.g., safe neighborhoods, accessible parks, etc.; and simply enjoyable movement of any kind.

  • Betsy

    December 11th, 2014 at 3:39 AM

    Agree about fresh air and sunshine. It’s a good baby step to simply sit outside for ten minutes.

  • Ellen

    January 28th, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    I had severe anxiety, depression and agoraphobia in my thirties. I am now 39 and live a perfectly normal life. It takes hard work and baby steps. Try to conquer one goal at a time. And get a new therapist if yours isn’t helping.

  • Stephen Riley

    April 10th, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    It’s easy to feel alone when depressed. Talking about things to a trusted friend is the best medicine , they can give you a different perspective and the hope needed when it all seems futile. Also don’t drink alcohol and try to do some exercise.

  • Brenda C.

    June 6th, 2014 at 3:10 PM

    I have depression and anxiety. I live in B.C., and am trying to find someone in Salmon Arm.

  • leigha b.

    June 18th, 2014 at 7:51 AM

    All my life I have been depressed; so i did things to force me to be distracted from depression; by doing so I have kept my depression from isolating me from people but it comes back to haunt me in my dreamlife and to make me feel the pain in my dreams. I will wake up with a horrific feeling, and then it subsides. I think even if you exclude all personal and family matters, you are going to naturally be depressed by reading the news and being up to date about the events of living. We feel pain, and just knowing we can also feel joy as well. life is a ride through the jungle so the more cute monkeys we can find, the better.

  • lisa

    June 18th, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    I haven’t read the article yet, but when I read the title I got a vision of Family Feud. Haha!

    Lisa hits buzzer: Drinking!!
    Richard Dawson (turning): Show us. .. Drinking!



  • Betsy

    December 11th, 2014 at 3:44 AM

    Lisa…to what degree have you found drinking, or not drinking, affects your depression?

    Anyone else have any comments on this particular aspect?

  • Allie

    December 30th, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    Alcohol by chemistry is a depressant and slows you down. In moderation, it could be helpful if combined with a social situation but drinking alone,particularly in a low state, allows room for those negative-thought loops to further engrain themselves. Use caution!

  • Silvia

    June 18th, 2014 at 9:54 PM

    I have been in a battle with clinical depression for more than 4 years, I have tried seeing 4 different therapist stick with two for more than a 3years but they both thought that treatment without medications are not effective especially when I have been through a painfull traumatic event. They literally told me that they are unable to help me as I am stuck and I’m not making any kind of a progress.
    I felt as they really have given up on me so I stopped seeing them of course one before the other In other words i tried the first therapist for almost 3 years then stopped afterwords I started after couple of months with the new one then I stopped because of what they have told me.
    Anyways, looks like I didn’t give up on myself although I am always on the edge, in despair and suicidal and all. However, I started seeing a male therapist now starting last month. When I asked him about treatment plan he said that If I am being stubborn and difficult to deal with he can’t help me. I felt as there is no one in this world that could literally have the energy and the tolerance to walk with me and help me with this illness! I felt as no one think or believe that I am worth to be helped! Not sure if Psychotherapy is effective treatment for me anymore. It is heartbreaking because it is the only thing that I used to believe in. And in my country these are the only available certified therapist.

  • Lauren

    August 27th, 2014 at 7:56 AM

    I had this same problem for years.. But I never gave up. It took many therapists and many fails before I found someone that really understood me and where I was coming from and what I needed, limitations, etc. She has been wonderful and a huge help and has never given up on me or made me feel bad about anything. If you’re still struggling, keep searching! You will find someone.

  • Kim

    December 6th, 2014 at 9:08 PM

    Hey there…the therapist that said you are difficult, etc. is a jerk…their are great therapists out there…I hope you can bring yourself back around to try another one…part of their job is to be with you in your pain…not collude with depressive thought and think your not making progress…maybe your progress when your really low us getting to your appt. and being really seen and heard by your therapist and taking in some support and nurturing…your still alive, that makes you a fighter…I hope you continue to fight and find some good quality help…if you can get out exercising it can help a great deal…wishing you the best mate!!!

  • Cat

    July 24th, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    I’ve had depression since 13yrs old. It’s not something that can be cured it’s about fighting an invisible battle every day and not letting it beat u. I have had 2 lots of therapy and both times they really worked because they were targeted and had an end date. Being in therapy for years says to me either it’s not working for that patient or the therapist is not suited. More access to other therapists / alternative services needed!!

  • Kerry-Anne

    December 6th, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    I’m almost done fighting, the kids have left home and everyone’s gone, I’ve fought hard all my life & now the co-morbidity is kicking in and I’m alone. They say not to take ones own life but I’m not stupid, nobody wants the burden of me.

  • rebecca

    December 7th, 2014 at 2:02 AM

    Kerry-Anne, I’m so sorry you feel so miserable! You are not getting sufficient treatment. You are valuable and can feel better; please keep working with your MD and therapist to develop and stick to a treatment plan that is effective. You deserve to enjoy life again! Look into local support groups too; these have made a huge difference for me.

  • Betsy

    December 7th, 2014 at 8:34 AM


    A friend of mine “checked herself out” several months ago. I don’t believe anyone saw her as a burden when she was alive, and I sure didn’t. Now that she is gone, I feel a huge burden of sadness and regret that I still can’t shake.

    I have battled depression for over 20 years and make all of the seven mistakes above frequently, though I am making slow progress in finding better ways to keep my head more clear. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that when I’m really, really down and feel like a complete failure, I think of my friend, and how much I care about my family and friends, and understand that there is no greater burden I could put on them than to take my life.

    Unlike many diseases that are difficult or impossible to survive, depression comes and goes. And there is ALWAYS a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if you can’t see it, have faith that it is there, and keep living, as much as it hurts right now.

    Medication has helped me, but it needs to be adjusted from time to time. On-line forums are a really good way to get support as well as give it to others. CBT and DBT are really helpful too.

    Please don’t listen to that voice in your head that says you are a burden that nobody wants. It’s wrong, completely wrong. Sorry for going on and on…I hope something I wrote in here will make you feel a bit more hopeful. Hugs.

  • Cj

    December 31st, 2014 at 2:43 AM

    Kerry – Anne, please don’t ever label yourself a burden. Every single person on this earth has a soul and is loved by something or someone much bigger than we ever imagine.
    your life is presious and you will feel better again.
    I’ve been exactly where you are and got through the other side. Talk, talk and talk some more. Enjoy the things in life which people think are small (they are actually huge) listen to the birds singing, walk in a forest or bare foot in the grass. Feel the Wind and rain on your skin. The world truly is a wonderful place to be, if we can just find our way of getting back to the bare base of it.
    You are very very precious xxxx

  • Colleen

    December 13th, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    Funny, it is so easy to say the world will be better off without me or that no one would miss me, but we do not walk around saying that about others. We are often clueless to the value we hold in this world. When someone takes their life in my small community, the ripples of shared sadness are incredible. When someone recovers from suicidality, the ripples are also incredible. If you feel hopeless…spread the second type of ripples. Keep looking for support and help. Talk therapy, nutrition, nature, support groups, volunteering to help others, mindfulness, gratitude journaling, etc

  • Kersti

    January 28th, 2015 at 5:14 AM

    I totally recognize myself in all of the 7… it was worst some time ago… i still struggle.. some days more than others, but generally doing much better. ..
    Some years ago i had awful headaches and back pain, and doctors didn’t find anything wrong- so I was on my own and looked solutions from Internet. I stumbled on you tube video how to get rid of headache and tried that method. .. it didn’t work immediately for the headache, but I felt better. .. i kept watching different videos with this method and using it on myself and after a week my back pain was gone and I felt much better mood and after a while I didn’t get the headaches anymore. .. i still use this method and it has raised my life quality a lot. …

    if you are interested of helping yourself then look for: faster EFT videos on YouTube:) you can start with video: faster eft 69
    And do it together with the video. .. that’s how I started. … good luck and find your worth. .. it’s inside of you:)

  • Jake T.

    May 13th, 2015 at 1:03 PM

    *claps* loved this article.

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