Everyone who has ever experienced a low mood can understand that thinking, behavior and even physical wellbeing are all affected by depression. In this post I’m providing a summary of the key changes associated with it.
1. Depressive behavior
As depression becomes more embedded, things become progressively more difficult to do. Low moods may lead to spending more time in bed as the thought of tackling the day starts to become more oppressive. Some people eat more, some drink more alcohol, and some spend more money and look for distractions that make them feel better.
All these things are perfectly understandable in the context of depression. People tend to seek short-term relief and try to boost their mood while avoiding the issues that require effort and energy.
2. Depressive thinking
If there is one thing that characterizes depression it’s negative thinking. Once negative thinking takes hold it feels like there’s no stopping it. The same concerns are churned around and around, a process known as rumination.
It may seem tempting to push negative thinking aside by finding distractions. However, what tends to happen is that negative thinking is never resolved. So, when it returns, more and more time is taken up with it and it then becomes a difficult thing to shake off. Here are some examples of how negative thinking may affect you:
You tend to make your mind up quickly about situations and have difficulty remaining neutral or considering other options.
If you make a mistake you see it as a sign that you can’t do anything right.
You think you know when another person thinks badly of you.
You may feel embarrassed or responsible for the behavior and actions of those around you.
These are just a few examples. Negative thinking tends to nullify the fact that every situation has a number of possible interpretations.
3. Physical changes
Very often, people with symptoms of depression report a variety of physical problems. It’s not uncommon to notice these before any symptoms of depression appear.
Some of the most common physical symptoms are those of exhaustion and inability to concentrate. But headaches, disrupted sleep, stomach problems, and aches and pains are frequently part of the mix.
With physical symptoms such as these it isn’t surprising to learn that both thinking and behavior is affected. It goes something like this:
“I feel ill, tired and I can’t concentrate” (physical). “I’m letting people down, I just can’t do this anymore” (thinking). “I’m staying off work, I can’t see people today” (behavior).
This is the start of a downward spiral and it’s something that is hard, but certainly not impossible, to break out of. With the right support it becomes a lot easier to nip the process in the bud.
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Dr. Jerry Kennard is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.