By Lauren Presutti
No two people with depression will have identical experiences. Every person’s journey is unique and the methods to recovery will vary from person to person. Often, working with a mental health therapist is the first step to creating a treatment plan that will work for you. However, there are common themes that we typically see in the mental health field that seem to be true for most people with depression. Let’s talk about 10 things not to do if you’re struggling with depression.
1. Don’t be overly critical of yourself. Depression often comes with an inner critic. It’s so important to challenge that critical voice and reframe your automatic negative thoughts. Working with a cognitive behavioral therapist can help with this, as well as practicing positive affirmations and being kind to yourself. Ask yourself, would talk to a friend this way?
2. Don’t rely on alcohol or substances to cope. Using alcohol or other substances to cope with depression is widely known for making depression symptoms feel worse overall. In the moment, you may be using mind-altering substances to relieve your pain temporarily, but a reliance on substances will actually make your depression feel more and more uncontrollable. Your reliance on substances will likely lead to destruction in multiple areas of your life. If you think managing depression alone is difficult, try managing depression while also managing a substance use problem. It’s much more difficult. Please be safe and access professional mental health treatment instead of self-medicating with alcohol or other substances.
3. Don’t try to manage it completely alone. The only thing more difficult than having depression is trying to manage it completely alone. Depression is inherently isolating. It can feel like you are buried below the surface while everybody else is having fun above ground. Isolating yourself further will not help in your recovery process. Human connection is so important for building your sense of belonging and purpose again. Reach out for help and be honest with the people who care about you most.
4. Don’t ignore the issues you struggle with. Ignoring our problems won’t make them go away. Just the opposite. Pretending that our problems don’t exist will probably amplify them. It can be tough to acknowledge the things that we struggle with but managing depression effectively starts with the courage to address the things that have contributed to our pain. Find someone that you completely trust, like a therapist who can give you a safe space to explore issues.
5. Don’t compromise your future goals and dreams. When we experience depression, we often feel a sense of hopelessness or dread about our futures. This is a symptom of depression. Your depression may cause you to feel as though you will never accomplish your future goals and dreams. Remember those thoughts are stemming from your condition that can be treated. Don’t take your future goals and dreams off the table. Remember that it’s possible to recover from depression and pursue whatever ambitions you have for your life.
6. Don’t compare yourself to others. Given the complexities of depression and the varied causes, factors, and behavioral patterns that may or may not be a part of your experience, there is really no point in comparing your journey to someone else’s. Everyone’s experiences are unique. Comparing yourself to others may elicit feelings of disappointment, self-judgment, jealousy, or confusion. Focus on your own recovery instead.
7. Don’t settle for something that’s not working. If you are receiving services from a therapist or doctor, it’s important to check-in with yourself on how it’s going. If something doesn’t feel right, speak up. If you’re not comfortable in therapy or if a medication is not working for you, those are important issues to address. You may need a different therapist or a different treatment plan.
8. Don’t give up. Recovery from depression takes time. Be patient with yourself. Trust the process. Even when it feels like you’re not making progress, it’s so important to continue moving forward in your treatment. There is always hope. There are always alternatives and different options to explore. We would be honored to work with you through every step. At River Oaks, we really care about meeting every person where they are at in their journey. We want to help you reach recovery. You are WORTH it!