Everyone understands that positive lifestyle habits — such as daily exercise, good-for-you foods, and plenty of sleep — are vital to remaining healthy, both physically and emotionally.
But if you have depression, the state presents a fine delimma: Even though these habits can help you keep your blues in check, it is tempting to temporarily numb your feelings by indulging in unhealthy coping mechanisms, including alcohol and comfort food.
“It’s important to remain mindful of the dangerous potential of the snares,” says Anthony DeCamello, PhD, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Garden City, N.Y. “Self-negating, distorted thinking and feelings of hopelessness pave the way for using them as comforting, if distressed, alternatives. They have been palliatives that in the end are chronically unsatisfying and will fuel additional depression.”
Depression Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
From self-medicating or withdrawing socially, these choices can be physically along with psychologically harmful:
Drugs and booze. “You feel much better when high or intoxicated, but the later effect is a decrease in brain activity,” says David M. Reiss, MD, a psychiatrist in San Diego. “Booze is truly a chemical depressant. Many drugs, such as amphetamines, can possess a substance ‘crash’ afterwards — they cause the high by stimulating neurotransmitters and then, when they wear off, there exists a depletion of neurotransmitters.”
Withdrawal. Putting yourself in “solitary confinement” is an all-too-unlucky symptom for many people with major depressive disorder. And since those with depression typically just wish to be alone, this can be a difficult depression snare to break out of. “Depression is often about feeling alone, about feeling a lack of connection to anyone else,” says Leslie Seppinni, PhD, a clinical psychologist and family therapist in Beverly Hills. “Attempt to locate some spiritual, not always religious, link to give you stability including a purpose. Using the four Cs — courage, conviction, determination, and interest — will help people avoid depression tricks.”
Psychological eating. Norman E. Rosenthal, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., says that mental eating isn’t all that distinct from abusing drugs or booze for folks with depression: you’re looking for a “high” feeling to fill an emptiness inside you. Try and be more conscious of your behavior and comprehend why you are overeating. You may need to address the reliance on food within your depression counselling. At the other extreme, some individuals respond by not eating at all — and losing weight can actually be a warning sign of melancholy. Speak to your therapist should you experience a loss of appetite.
Couch potato syndrome. Shoshana Bennett, PhD, a clinical psychologist and writer of Postpartum Depression for Dummies, says there is a fine line between having some healthful alone time and becoming a shut-in. “Occasionally ‘cocooning’ is best for you,” she says. “Being by yourself without external stimulation to do whatever you need (or nothing) can be amazing. But in case you wind up avoiding social interactions and not returning your buddies’ voice mails or e mails, that is an indication that you simply could be heading toward melancholy. If that’s happening, accept just one of those invitations, phone only one buddy back, and ease back in your own life without being too overwhelmed.”
Skimping on sunlight. One of the difficulties with staying shut in your home throughout the day, explains Dr. Rosenthal, is that you are robbing yourself of a healthful dose of sunshine, which can boost serotonin, one of the brain’s feel good substances. Just getting outside and walking around a bit each day can be helpful for depression.
Too few zzzs. “Chronic sleep deprivation will lower your serotonin level and may cause depression and many other mental health problems,” Bennett says. “There are a large number of sleep-deprived people who do not even know they’re depressed. Most individuals can take good care of this on their very own by going to bed before instead of viewing TV or remaining on the computer.” Practice good sleep hygiene, such as waking up at the exact same times daily and sleeping. But for those who have insomnia and cannot sleep despite your best attempts, she suggests consulting a professional you trust.
Thrill seeking. Drugs, booze, and food aren’t the only outlets that folks with depression turn to. “Addictive behaviors such as excessive shopping, casual sex, binge eating, gaming, or other things you might be doing to get a high are generally followed by a ‘low,'” says Rosenthal. These addictions ought to be medicated similarly to booze and drugs from a mental health point of view, he notes.
Self-medication. Attempting to increase your mood with antidepressants prescribed to a close friend or relative (or gotten illegally) is dangerous and doesn’t address the underlying reason for your depression. Says Harrald Magny, PhD, a psychologist in New York City: “Too often people believe they are able to solve their depression by themselves by preventing the problem or taking a buddy’s antidepressant drug for a day or two — I strongly discourage anyone from taking any medication that is not prescribed to them.” These aren’t effective replacements for finding a qualified health care professional, he includes, particularly when you’re facing clinical depression.
These behavior traps can hide an undiagnosed depression or worsen your mental health. By replacing melancholy traps with mood-fostering habits, you will be better capable to overcome your depression.