A trap for those suffering from depression and anxiety is that many of people’s natural coping reactions make the problem worse rather than better. Here are a few examples of that, and some practical solutions.
Note: Please be compassionate with yourself if you can relate to any of these patterns. They’re common pitfalls, not an indictment on you as a person.
1. You don’t fix problems that frustrate you.
Feeling irritable is one of the main symptoms of depression for many people. Some problems that trigger repeated irritation and frustration are easily fixable. However, people with depression often go into a passive “survival” mode and don’t address these issues, even though they could.
For example, you don’t have enough power outlets in the spot where everyone in your household likes to charge their devices. You’re constantly annoyed about people unplugging your device in favor of their own. This is the type of tension that can be solved by getting a multi-plug, or another similar practical solution.
People with depression often just put up with this type of issue (and complain about it), rather than deploying a solution. It’s understandable to do this, but not very helpful.
2. You’re waiting for your sleep to improve before you take other actions.
Difficulty sleeping is one of the most horrible symptoms of depression. Unfortunately, it’s often the last symptom to resolve when people’s mood starts to improve. Therefore, even though it’s hard, it is important that you start other strategies even though you’re feeling tired and grumpy. For example, exercise. If you over-focus on getting your sleep right before you start other strategies, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
3. Wanting a pill as a cure all.
Medication is helpful for many people with depression but it certainly doesn’t address all of the thinking and behavioral patterns that are associated with depression. For example, you’ll likely still need psychological strategies to deal with tendencies towards rumination (overthinking) and avoidance/procrastination.
Solution: Try drawing a pie chart and estimating what role you think medication has in your depression recovery. Include whatever is relevant for you in your pie chart, such as thinking changes, exercise, meditation, laughter, problem-solving etc. Your personal pie chart won’t be the same as someone else’s since everyone’s preferred mix of strategies for depression recovery is a little bit different. When you start adding all these other components to your pie chart, you’ll see that medication is only a part of the picture.
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