Common Depression Traps To Avoid
Expert advice on how to sidestep pitfalls that often accompany depression.
When Orion Lyonesse is getting depressed, she turns into a hermit. She doesn’t want to leave the house , and she cuts off contact with her friends and family.
“The more I’m alone, the deeper the depression gets,” Lyonesse, an artist and writer in Lake Stevens, Wash., tells WebMD in an email. “I don’t even want to cuddle my cats!”
Avoiding social contact is a common pattern you might notice when falling into depression. Some people skip activities they normally enjoy and isolate themselves from the world. Others turn to alcohol or junk food to mask their pain and unhappiness.
Depression traps vary from person to person, but what they have in common is that they can serve to worsen your mood, perpetuating a vicious cycle. Here are six behavioral pitfalls that often accompany depression — and how you can steer clear of them as you and your doctor and therapist work on getting back on track.
What Is An Eating Problem
An eating problem is any relationship with food that you find difficult.
Many people think that someone with an eating problem will be over or underweight. People might also think that certain weights are linked to certain eating problems. Neither of these points are true.
Anyone can experience eating problems. This is regardless of age, gender, weight or background.
Food plays a significant part in our lives. Most of us will spend time thinking about what we eat. Sometimes you might:
- try to eat healthier.
Changing your eating habits like this every now and again is normal.
But if you feel like food and eating is taking over your life, it may become a problem.
Depression Treatment: How To Help Yourself
In addition to the help and support you get from your therapist and/or doctor, there are a few things you can do on your own that will help you feel better:
- Stay physically active. Exercise helps boost your mood, and research has shown that it may also help ease depression.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep helps us heal from many health problems, including depression. Getting the right amount of sleep, but not too much, helps you have more energy. Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. Make your bedroom a comfortable place for sleeping and sex only — banish TV and use curtains to keep out bright outdoor light.
- Stay connected. Spending time with supportive friends or family will make you feel better — even if you don’t feel like it will. It may help to choose low-key ways to connect. Go to a light-hearted movie, meet for a coffee and some people-watching, or take a walk in a nearby park. The contact you get from others, along with depression treatment, can help bring you out of the dark and back into the light.
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Trap #: Negative Thinking
When you’re depressed, you’re prone to negative thinking and talking yourself out of trying new things.
You might say to yourself, “Well, even if I did A, B, and C, it probably wouldn’t make me feel any better and it would be a real hassle, so why bother trying at all?”
“That’s a huge trap,” says Goulston. “If you race ahead and anticipate a negative result, which then causes you to stop trying at all, that is something that will rapidly accelerate your depression and deepen it.”
The Fix: Don’t get too attached to grim expectations. “You have more control over doing and not doing, than you have over what the result of actions will be,” Goulston says. “But there is a much greater chance that if you do, then those results will be positive.”
Anxiety And Appetite Loss
When someone starts to feel stressed or anxious, their body begins to release stress hormones. These hormones activate the sympathetic nervous system and trigger the bodys fight-or-flight response.
The fight-or-flight response is an instinctive reaction that attempts to keep people safe from potential threats. It physically prepares the body to either stay and fight a threat or run away to safety.
This sudden surge of stress hormones has several physical effects. For example, research suggests that one of the hormones corticotropin-releasing factor affects the digestive system and may lead to the suppression of appetite.
Another hormone, cortisol, increases gastric acid secretion to speed the digestion of food so that the person can fight or flee more efficiently.
Other digestive effects of the fight-or-flight response can include:
This response can cause additional physical symptoms, such as an increase in breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure. It also causes muscle tension, pale or flushed skin, and shakiness.
Some of these physical symptoms can be so uncomfortable that people have no desire to eat. Feeling constipated, for example, can make the thought of eating seem very unappetizing.
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Daily Habits People With Depression May Avoid
People who live with depression or bipolar disorder may share similar behavioral patterns and avoid doing certain everyday tasks, including the things that are good for them. There are some days when you simply might not have the energy to shower and other days when the dishes keep piling up. And some weeks may go by when you barely have it in you to leave the house.
These normal, everyday habits can seem impossible at times for those experiencing depression. Below are some common activities that people experiencing depression or a depressive episode may have trouble managing, plus some suggestions on how to get moving forward again.
What Are Signs And Characteristics Of Appetite Loss
Loss of appetite can mainly be characterized by the lack of desire to eat. You may not feel hungry when you usually do, or the idea of eating may make you feel sick or nauseated. You may forget to eat and realize later on that youve skipped one or two meals. You may even start losing weight without making an effort to diet or exercise.
Regardless of which symptoms of appetite loss you may be experiencing, its critical to keep track of when and what youre eating so you can avoid complications, including malnutrition and lowered immunity.
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Create A Morning Pampering Routine
When you live with depression, you may notice your personal care starts to decline. You might start by skipping the shower. Brushing your hair may feel like a chore. Maybe you dont remember when you last brushed your teeth.
A small, cross-sectional study found married women who self-pampered were less likely to experience depression compared to married women who didnt self-pamper.
Its possible, however, like with diet, that people who pamper themselves more are more likely to have other beneficial mental and physical behaviors, which might explain lower rates of depression.
The ‘just One Thing’ That Stopped Depression From Draining My Will To Live
From that moment on, that technique of finding just one thing has become my saving grace. When I lack motivation, I tell myself to get up and do just one thing, like vacuum the rug. When my self-esteem is low, I remind myself about just one thing that I am good at, like writing. When my focus is blurred, I pick just one thing to concentrate on, like reading. When my depression threatened to swallow me whole, when I nearly took my own life, I thought of just one thing to stay my hand: my daughter’s wedding.
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To Eat Again On A Regular Basis Lewin Deehan Suggests Making An Appointment With A Registered Dietician To Work On The Nutritional Side Of The Issue While You Get Emotional Support From A Mental Health Specialist And If You Struggle With Disordered Eating Make Sure The Dietician Has Experience With This
If youre looking to be more mindful of eating throughout the day, Lewin Deehan recommends to set a reminder on your phone to eat something every three to four hours, even if you dont feel particularly hungry at those times capitalize on moments of decreased anxiety and eat at that time even if thats not when you typically eat and do something calming before mealtime, such as a warm bath or a restorative yoga practice. Excuse me while I go try all of these solutions.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please visit the National Eating Disorder Association for more information and support or text NEDA to 741-741. Or, if you know someone who may be struggling with body dysmorphia, please visit The Body Dysmorphia Disorder Foundation for more information.
Be Positive About Even The Smallest Victories
In mental health recovery, any small step should be celebrated. Use these victories to encourage and remind yourself that you can indeed overcome one step at a time. Youll be able to say, I know I can do it because Ive done it before. When depression causes a lack of motivation, know that you can still beat it.
APA ReferenceEhrmantrout, M. . When Depression Causes a Lack of Motivation, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, September 12 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2015/03/about-depression-caused-lack-of-motivation
I having less motivation on working. I am not sure am i lazy or depression. I am working software developer as a low pay contract. I struggle working with people and etc.. i can feel i struggling on many things. I know working in office the feeling of working even worst. I am totally confused.
Thank you to all of you who are able to so nicely put into words what we are feeling. As much as I wish no one had to feel this way, I take a small comfort in knowing that out there there are others who can understand me.
JohnEmilyBhuvi KumarTianaTianaTdTdTdMonée KiddEmily
Thank you such a amazing site I was having a breakdown and almost lost it Im completely lost again I have no motivation for life and its starting to scare me again
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Depression Drained My Will To Live
I think about that day a lot, less than two years ago, when I almost killed myself. I sometimes wonder if I would have gone through with it. How much lower would I have needed to be? I was pretty low – holding the lethal pills in my hand. I felt so desperate, so sad, so lost and alone.
At the very lowest moment, I had one, very brief moment of clarity in which I asked myself to think about just one thing that I was looking forward to.
And then I lived.
A Shift In The Appetitive Symptoms Of Depression
In recent decades, there has been a profound shift in the appetitive characteristics of depression. For early measures of depression, such as the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression , the key appetitive characteristic of depression was weight loss. In the 1950s and 60s, reduced appetite was considered a key feature even in mild depression and it was noted that in moderate depression the desire for food may almost totally disappear those suffering with severe depression may almost have to force themselves to eat . Zung, another pioneer of depression measurement, found that even the individual designated as the significant other associated loss of appetite as symptomatic of depression in the patient . No assessment for increased appetite, food intake, or weight gain was assessed in the HRSD. In these early reports, people with depression who overate or gained weight were diagnosed with atypical depression and were treated differently than those with more typical depression characterized by weight loss.
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Mental Health Conditions That Cause Loss Of Appetite
There are several mental health conditions that may affect your appetite. Anything from increased stress or grief to a diagnosable mental illness may cause you to lose your desire to eat.
Improving your psychological well-being can improve your appetite. Here are some of the most common psychological reasons people lose their appetite:
- Anxiety: Some people with anxiety become so overwhelmed with worry that they lose their desire to eat.
- Depression: Individuals with clinical depression may lose interest in everythingincluding food. They may lack the energy to prepare meals and may have little interest in eating. They may also experience nausea.
- Stress: The bodys physical response to acute stress often suppresses appetite . Physical symptoms associated with stress are common, such as nausea or the sensation of a knot in the stomach, which makes food unappealing.
- Substance Use: While some people gain weight from their substance use, others lose it. Drug or alcohol use may decrease an individuals appetite.
If youve lost your appetite for a few days, there is likely nothing to worry about. Its normal to experience minor fluctuations in appetite over time. But if it lasts more than a few days, or if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue, pain, or vomiting, contact your physician.
Causes Of Lost Appetite
When someone has depression, it may be that they occasionally skip or do not finish their meals. They may go for days without eating or drinking enough. This can impact on their energy levels and cause weight loss and health problems, making their depression even worse.
There are a number of reasons why depression can cause a loss of appetite, including:
- A person with depression will often lose interest in activities that they once enjoyed. Sometimes, this means that the pleasure they used to gain from preparing or eating food disappears
- People tend to feel low in energy when they are depressed this can mean that having to cook or eat may feel like too much for them
- People with depression often experience anxiety which can result in gastrointestinal symptoms , which can cause a loss of appetite
- Depression can cause people to feel sad, worthless or hopeless. With so much going on in their mind, they can forget to eat
- With depression, it can feel as though you really dont like yourself. You may believe that your health doesnt matter or that you dont deserve to eat or to feel better
- Some antidepressants can reduce appetite or cause gastrointestinal discomfort, which means that people may eat less
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So How Did I Get My Depressed Mother To Eat
#1: Buy Walgreens Balanced Nutritional Drink Plus. Amazingly, I managed to get my mother to drink 1-2 cans a day. One can is 350 calories. Substitutes would be Ensure Plus or Boost Plus.
If you can get your depressed family member to consume two of these 8 ounce cans, thats a good foundation of 700 calories for the day.
#2: When giving your depressed family member a beverage, include a straw. A straw guarantees more of the liquid will get consumed.
#3: Do not ask your depressed family member if they want something to eat or drink.
My father would ask this to my mother, and every single time, shed say No. Hed then give up. BIG MISTAKE.
I decided to take the bull by the horns and instead of asking if my mother wanted to eat, Id just bring the food to her mouth.
I strongly suggest that you dont even TELL your depressed family member youre going to give him or her some food or drink, because this will give them an opportunity to refuse.
Dont inform them at all of your plan. JUST DO IT: Bring them the food.
When the food is in front of them, they are likely to take a bite or sip.
My mother has always enjoyed eggs. My father would ask her if she wanted eggs. Shed say no. Hed give up.
I insisted, Dont ask. Just make her the eggs. Shell eat some once theyre cooked and in front of her.
My father at first didnt go along with this, but he eventually learned that it was true:
Once the eggs were actually prepared and placed before my mother, shed eat some.
What To Look For
A person that has anorexia may eat much less than normal or may not eat at all. This is common with some cancers and some treatments, but it’s important to remember that everyone is different. If treatment is the main cause, loss of appetite can be temporary. If there are other factors, it can be longer lasting.
- Little or no interest in food
- Refusing to eat favorite foods
When the loss of appetite leads to poor nutrition and a significant loss of weight and muscle mass, it is called cachexia. When cachexia happens in people with advanced cancer, some experts call this cancer anorexia-cachexia syndrome . CACS can lead to low levels of some nutrients, such as protein and certain vitamins and minerals that can be life-threatening. A person that has cachexia may look very thin. But, if they were overweight or obese before having cancer, they may just look like they’ve lost some weight. For this reason, sometimes blood tests are used to find out if someone has cachexia.
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Treat Constipation And Nausea
Constipation can create a sense of fullness even if someone is nutritionally deprived.
To treat constipation, ensure that your loved one is properly hydrated and speak with your healthcare provider about the appropriate treatment options, including laxatives and fiber supplements.
Limiting caffeine intake and increasing fiber intake with fruits, vegetables, and grains can also help
If your loved one is struggling with nausea, try bland foods such as the BRAT diet . Ginger tea is also a popular anti-nausea remedy. The same non-irritating foods can help people with mouth sores.
Hard candy, popsicles, and ice chips can also help produce saliva and keep the mouth moist.