Depression is a challenging, multifaceted mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While factors beyond your control can cause depression, some behaviors might unwittingly contribute to the worsening of the condition. It’s critical to understand depression isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather a medical condition, which various environmental and lifestyle factors can exacerbate.
By shedding light on these factors, you can work toward achieving relief. Here are some things that might be making your depression worse plus some tips to change them.
Self-stigmatization can be a huge barrier to overcoming depression and other mental health conditions. When someone with depression internalizes negative stereotypes about mental illness, they may start to see themselves as fundamentally flawed or inadequate.
This negative self-perception can erode self-esteem and self-worth, making you feel even more depressed and hopeless. In addition, self-stigma can fuel rumination and self-deprecating thoughts, intensifying feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
Self-stigma can also create barriers to seeking treatment for depression. Delays in getting help can worsen depression, as it remains untreated and continues to affect daily life. For example, if you believe misconceptions that medication or therapy are signs of weakness, you might avoid getting the help you need. Using medicines like wellbutrin or talking to a therapist shows strength and courage, so give yourself credit for taking these steps. By recognizing depression is a treatable medical condition and not a personal failing, you can take steps toward recovery.
Depression can be a major energy drainer, making it difficult to complete basic tasks and properly care for yourself. While exercise might feel extra challenging, staying inactive will likely only worsen your symptoms and keep you feeling drained. Regular physical activity is associated with releasing neurotransmitters like endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Inactivity can disrupt this neurochemical balance, leading to a decrease in the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain.
Inactivity also provides more opportunities to ruminate on negative thoughts, isolate, and spend too much time on passive activities. This rumination and lack of healthy stimulation could intensify symptoms and make it harder to break free from negative thought patterns. To mitigate these impacts, try incorporating some type of physical activity into your daily routine. Even small steps, such as short walks, stretching, or simple home workouts, can make a big difference in mood and overall well-being.
Social support is crucial for coping with depression, and isolation deprives those struggling of this essential resource. Without a network of friends, family, or peers to turn to, individuals with depression have fewer opportunities to share their feelings and feel heard. Isolation can also lead to increased rumination, causing excessive dwelling on negative thoughts and feelings. By talking to a loved one, you can gain external perspectives and helpful distractions from the heaviness of depression.
In addition, isolation often leads to feelings of intense loneliness, which is closely linked to depression. Loneliness can exacerbate sadness and hopelessness, making it harder to break free from the grip of depression. Social connection can also serve as a form of accountability, encouraging individuals to care for themselves and engage in positive behaviors. To prevent isolation, schedule at least one or two weekly social events, like walking with a friend or grabbing dinner with family.
The foods you eat impact both your physical and mental health. A diet lacking in essential nutrients can contribute to imbalances in the brain and body. These imbalances can affect mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, and deficiencies are commonly associated with depression. Unhealthy diets consisting of processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats can also lead to chronic inflammation. This is problematic, and it’s linked to the development and exacerbation of depression.
This type of unhealthy diet can also cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can negatively affect energy and mood stability. When blood sugar levels drop, it can lead to feelings of irritability, fatigue, and worsened depressive symptoms. The best types of food for fighting depression include nuts, beans, seeds, poultry, vegetables, whole grains, probiotics, and fish. Taking advantage of grocery delivery or meal subscription services is a fantastic resource if you’re feeling too drained or overwhelmed to make a grocery trip.
Doomscrolling is the habit of continuously scrolling through news or social media feeds and consuming negative or distressing content. Constant exposure to alarming information can heighten feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, and sadness, intensifying depressive symptoms. The process could cause rumination, which exacerbates depression by reinforcing harmful thought patterns and making it harder to break the cycle of negative thinking.
To lessen doomscrolling, set time limits for electronics, especially before bedtime, to ensure that scrolling doesn’t interfere with sleep patterns. Adjust your social media and news feeds to prioritize positive and uplighting content while unfollowing or muting accounts that consistently share distressing or harmful information. This social media cleanse should also include accounts that simply cause you to feel down about yourself. Replace doomscrolling with activities that promote positivity and well-being, like exercise, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones.
Depression is a complex and often debilitating condition, but it’s crucial to remain hopeful that brighter days are ahead. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for managing this condition, understanding what worsens symptoms is a vital step toward recovery. Remember that you are not alone in your journey, and you can build a more hopeful future with the right strategies and support. It’s never too late to take those first steps toward healing and well-deserved happiness.