Habits that reinforce depression and how to avoid them. Depression appears as a set of predominantly affective symptoms (pathological sadness, apathy, anhedonia, hopelessness, decay, irritability, subjective feeling of discomfort, and helplessness in the face of life’s demands) although, to a greater or lesser degree, they are also present symptoms of a cognitive, volitional and somatic type.
So, we could speak of a global psychic and physical affectation, with special emphasis on the affective sphere, according to the Clinical Practice Guide on the Management of Depression in Adults, of the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality.
Certain people are more prone to suffering from depression because of their way of being. Responsible people with low self-esteem, demanding perfectionists, a high sense of duty and respect, meticulousness, low tolerance for failure, and very rigid life approaches have a higher risk of suffering from depression. In addition, they give great importance to control, so they like to know what is happening at all times.
They adore routine, detest improvisation or surprises, and suffer if they feel they do not control some aspect of their lives.
Depression can start at any age, although its highest prevalence occurs between 15 and 45 years. The disorder symptoms may differ with age: young people show mainly behavioral symptoms, while older adults more frequently have somatic symptoms.
There are many ways to overcome depression, but this article provides information on the habits that reinforce depression and how to avoid them so that you do not suffer from diseases of this type.
Causes of depression
Experts believe that depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. We describe these factors in more detail below:
– Genetic factors
Depression is a mental health condition that can be inherited from parents. Research has revealed that 40% of people diagnosed with depression have a family history of the disorder.
– Physical factors
When people suffer from depression, the parts of their brain responsible for regulating mood, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior do not function properly. Also, people with depression have an imbalance in certain neurotransmitters.
– Environmental factors
Trauma, losing a loved one, or any other stressful event can trigger a depressive episode. This is especially true when a person lacks the skills to deal with stress or lacks a strong support system.
Habits that reinforce depression: Risk factors
Some of the most common risk factors that can cause depression in people are:
- Being a woman.
- Stressful life experiences.
- Family history of depression or other mental health conditions.
- Personal history of other mental health conditions.
- Alcohol or drug abuse.
- Problems in marriage or relationships.
- Major changes in life.
- Chronic pain or health problems.
- Exposure to trauma.
- Being a victim of abuse and neglect.
Habits that reinforce depression
If you notice that you may have developed depression or are showing symptoms associated with it, consider these habits that reinforce depression to avoid them in your day-to-day life, as they can help this psychopathology consolidate in you.
1. Neglecting your hygiene, habits that reinforce depression
One factor that reinforces depression more quickly is ignoring self-care and body hygiene routines: not showering, not combing hair, not changing clothes, etc.
This makes the person feel even worse in a few days because of the physical sensations produced by dirt: itchy skin, a bad odor that deconcentrates, a tendency to sneeze due to the accumulation of dust in the hair and face… and of course, avoiding social interactions outside the home “so they don’t see me like that.”
It is a dynamic in which people with depression fall without realizing it because they repeatedly put off the decision to wash and take care of themselves assuming that it is a waste of time.
Based on the management of physical discomfort and social isolation, the living conditions fostered by this are a breeding ground for the development and consolidation of depressive disorders.
2. Locking yourself in the room all day or not getting out of bed, habits that reinforce depression
This type of lifestyle characterized by an extremely sedentary lifestyle not only damages your physical health but also affects your mental health, making it easier for depression to gain strength. The lack of sources of motivation and external stimuli is one factor that strengthens this mood disorder, and the passivity produced by depression is a psychological aspect that allows it to perpetuate itself, leading you to fall into a vicious circle.
One of the most effective procedures against depression used in psychotherapy is behavioral activation, and it consists of helping the patient learn to “self-oblige” to perform activities that lead them to interact with the environment. Physically, rather than just introspective actions. In this way, their emotional state gets influenced through observable actions.
3. Tendency to sleep little, habits that reinforce depression
Because of the disorganized lifestyle favored by depression (and partly because of the anxiety that many who develop this disorder end up suffering from), many depressed people end up with little sleep.
This causes them to have serious concentration difficulties and a lack of energy, making it more difficult for them to adopt a healthy lifestyle and carry out the objectives set in the psychotherapy program. In addition, this physical exhaustion will contribute to maintaining the emotional alteration as the nervous system will not repair itself well.
Therefore, it is important to set a very clear schedule and establish the necessary routines so that it is possible to do so when it is time to go to bed instead of falling into the temptation of putting it off.
4. Using work as a refuge to escape, habits that reinforce depression
As we have seen, passivity characterizes depression. However, this is compatible with using work as an excuse not to think, a way to get away and feel nothing more than the urgency to reach a certain productivity goal in a matter of minutes or hours.
Not all people with depression do this (in the most severe cases, they lack the energy to do it), but these cases are not rare, and they never contribute to a person’s recovery. This kind of “binge work” produces an emotional instability that can lead the person to develop an anxious-depressive picture.
5. Staying in bed for a long time after waking up, habits that reinforce depression
It has been observed that, in people with depression, the moment of waking up is usually one moment of the day in which they suffer the symptoms of this disorder with the greatest intensity.
Many people choose to stay in bed because they feel they need to deal with those emotions. However, in most cases, this does not help and only serves to establish a dysfunctional routine that helps depression perpetuate itself through observable actions.
How to overcome depression?
Some tips can help you overcome depression more easily. The most effective are:
1. Do not get discouraged
Getting out of depression is a slow process, but you will be yourself again in the end. You may be an even better person for everything you’ve been through. Keep the hope.
2. Assume activities daily
In coming out of depression, some things can help you and others you can avoid. Remember that you most likely don’t feel like doing anything or being with anyone. But instead of crawling under the blanket or doing absolutely nothing, which often makes you feel even worse, you can try, little by little, to take on some activity.
Do not ask yourself what you want to do because the normal response is that you do not want to do anything. Although it seems little to you, it is a lot. Set simple goals that you can meet: go to dump the garbage, copy the lyrics of a song you liked into a notebook, put the silverware in the kitchen drawer. Small, concrete, simple things. It is a mistake to set ambitious goals in a depression.
3. Note that no one is guilty of your depression
You are not to blame for having depression, and neither is anyone else around you. But you have a responsibility to make reasonable efforts to feel better gradually.
4. Break housework into small pieces
Due to depression, you have issues that under normal conditions are not a problem and are now difficult to deal with. For example, you may not have looked at your mailbox even though you know you have many emails waiting. Break that “checking mail” task into small things. The first day is fine if you pick up the mail and put it in a pile on a table.
The next day it is worth separating, on the one hand, the propaganda, on the other the letters from the bank, electricity and other receipts, and a third group with the other letters. Then, on the next day, it is good for you to throw away the propaganda mail and open the letters from the bank.
The next day you have to make a payment from a receipt if you do not have it domiciled. Then it is enough to pay another receipt. And so on. Very little by little, do not overwhelm yourself but move forward step by step.
5. Recover relationships
Depression might have alienated you from many people. It is convenient that you also take small steps to recover your social life. It is not the best time to go to big parties, but you can meet someone nice for a coffee or go to see a friend return something they lent you. There’s no problem telling someone that you know they love you, “I’m a little down”, and “I could use it if you come over for a while or go for a walk”, although they probably won’t talk much.
6. Find a confidant
Talking helps. It is highly recommended that you establish daily contact with someone you love. It may just be a conversation on the phone. It has to be someone who does not give you impossible advice or gets irritated easily or who makes you feel worse for whatever reason.
Think of family and friends and you will surely find the right person. You can tell them that these are the instructions for the daily “confessional” time. If you start to have suicidal thoughts, tell your doctor or the health center or emergency department staff immediately. Seek help.
7. Group therapy helps many people
Many people benefit from attending a group of people who have had depression. It does not have to be a lifelong commitment, but some people will understand you, and if you go for a few weeks, it can do you good. Also, many feel better after contact with a priest or religious groups.
8. Go over what you liked, what gave you satisfaction, and do it again after breaking it down into tiny stages.
At first, don’t expect to have fun with it or feel like it or like it the way you did before. Now you do it as if you were taking medicine because it is good for you, not because you find it pleasant. If, for example, you liked to paint with watercolors the first day, find the paints, paper, and brushes and place them where you normally paint.
On the second day work on a sketch with a pencil and paper, whatever comes out, and so on, step by step. What you do with these activities is that all your mental activity does not revolve around depression. Little by little, you remove that blocking power by doing different things with an effort at first.
9. Depression walking
If it is not easy to exercise when you are well, it is even more difficult when you feel depressed but you have to do it. The things that are important in normal conditions become much more important when you have depression. Exercise has been shown to improve the mood of people who are depressed.
Aerobic exercise is recommended for good health. 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least five days a week significantly improves depression. Start slowly, decide what you can do, and set a goal that’s less than that. If you think you can walk for twenty minutes at a brisk pace, try fifteen minutes, and don’t get discouraged if you don’t feel better afterward. As always with exercise, the improvement is not instantaneous, but it always works if you persist.
10. You have to think again
When you are depressed, you have all kinds of negative thoughts about yourself, the people around you, your life: you feel like a complete failure, like you are stupid, that nobody appreciates you, that you are worthless. Do not try to see everything in colors because it is not about changing one distorted vision for another. What it is about is that you think about yourself by playing fair with yourself and with realism. You are not stupid; you are not a complete failure, and of course, there is hope and a future for you.
11. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol is a depressant substance. Sometimes depression induces the affected person to drink, and sometimes alcohol abuse leads to depression. Drugs and alcohol make depression worse and can interact negatively with antidepressant medications. Alcohol does not help you overcome depression, and the same is true for other substances of abuse and caffeine.
12. Go to the street
Sunlight is a powerful antidepressant. Take advantage of the daylight hours and enjoy the sun. Do not wear sunglasses. If the days are short, you may have to change your habits to be on the street when there is still light. If you are in a city with very little light, perhaps you can look for a lamp with the closest natural lighting.
13. Eat healthily
This means eating a healthy and diverse diet and not overusing prepared foods. Include in your diet whole wheat bread, fish, fruit, vegetables, meat, a little of everything, and preparation that respects natural flavors.
14. Sleep well
Change your sleeping or bedtime habits to give yourself a good night’s rest. Go to bed and turn off the light at the same time every day. Turn off the television and do not fall asleep with the TV or radio on. Before going to sleep, do quiet, relaxing activities such as reading, or taking a hot bath. Don’t work late or engage in activities that stress you out or make your mind race. The best for sleep is a tired body and a relaxed mind.
15. Don’t make drastic changes in your life
While you are depressed, you are not exactly you. Depression affects your judgment, and during this season, you should avoid breaking a relationship, leaving work, making a great personal or financial commitment, etc. When the depression has passed, you can have a more accurate vision, and your choice is more likely to be something that you will not regret later.
It does not mean that you lost your mind or are not as intelligent as when you were not depressed. The symptoms of depression may affect you, and if you did not have it, your reaction would be different. If you are required to decide, consult a person you trust for their prudence and good judgment.
Now that you know the habits that reinforce depression and how to avoid them, you can experience the best frame of mind.