10 Ways to Damage Your Depression Recovery

Medical Reviewer
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Recovery from depression is rarely straightforward. Even with good support and a structured plan we can be our own worst enemies without necessarily realizing it. Our core beliefs about depression may still be working in the background and our behavior may give further clues as to where things are going wrong.

Hiding your true feelings

Masking over your true feelings is unhelpful. Recovery will be a welcome relief to those around you, but don’t pretend that every waking day is better than the previous one if it clearly isn’t. Tell trusted people how your moods are affecting you and false expectations of a speedy recovery will be adjusted accordingly.

Not pacing yourself

Don’t stop your antidepressants abruptly. Whether or not you feel they have been helpful, you should not suddenly stop taking them. Antidepressants are powerful drugs and they should be gradually reduced, with medical guidance, to prevent symptoms of withdrawal.

Falling victim to fear

Gayle, a patient said: “I felt like I shouldn’t allow my family to get used to me being active and social, because it would be a huge disappointment when I went back to being depressed.” This is a fear of depression recovery. Dark thoughts are common but with time you will feel more secure and they will pass. (Gayle's name has been changed to protect her privacy.)

Sticking to old habits

If you feel you are simply returning to the situation that caused you to become depressed in the first place, some action needs to be taken. Don’t believe the adage, “whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” because it doesn’t work like this with depression. Take stock and make plans to structure things differently.

Preventing optimism

Be aware of negative thinking. Depression has a magnet-like pull that can be hard to detach yourself from. The smallest upset can spark a chain reaction in which negative thinking takes over. You may not be able to prevent negative thoughts, but work on alternative ways of viewing things when you are aware of them.

Staying in a bubble

Make yourself do things even if you don’t feel like it. Even though you’ve been doing well, there may be mornings when you just want to hide from the world and do nothing. You’ll find your mood will improve if you just make the effort to get showered and dressed. Get some fresh air into your lungs and move around. It may feel pointless, but that’s your depression talking, so move past it best you can.

Keeping yourself silent

Don’t resist help or suggestions. Lack of motivation will still persist on the road to recovery; so when a friend says, “Come for coffee,” your knee-jerk response may be to say no. You’ll need to break down the barriers you’ve been living behind, so start small and you’ll find the bigger barriers easier to tackle in the future.

Avoiding adventure

Life is about taking small risks and making discoveries. You damage your recovery by avoiding small challenges because you fear negative outcomes. You resist change of any kind, prefer isolation, push people away, and act on assumptions rather than facts. Don’t derail your recovery through inertia.

Holding on

Let go of guilt and regret. During your depression, you may have seen yourself as a failure, as lacking in ability and not deserving anything but people’s scorn. You feel your achievements were irrelevant and you blame yourself for your illness. It can take time to rebuild self-worth but time can help with this. If you feel stuck, consider therapy.

Becoming clairvoyant

Be aware of fortune telling. You know your mood is still low if you predict everything in the future will only get worse, will result in failure, or looks bleaker. None of us can foresee the future, and this is what makes life so interesting and varied.