Depression traps can vary from person to person, however, they all serve to worsen your mood, perpetuating a vicious cycle. Here are some behavioral pitfalls that can often accompany depression and how you can steer clear of them as you work on getting back on track.
- Rumination: This involves dwelling and brooding about themes such as loss and failure that can cause you to feel worse about yourself. It is a toxic progress that leads to negative self-talk. It can also cause you to interpret neutral events in a negative way.
The Fix: Redirect your attention to a more absorbing activity, like a social engagement or reading book.
- Social Withdraw: It is the most common telltale sign of depression. “When we’re clinically depressed, there’s a very strong urge to pull away from others and to shut down,” says Stephen Ilardi, PhD, author of books including The Depression Cure. Pulling away from others is the exact opposite of what you really need. “In depression, social isolation typically serves to worsen the illness and how we feel,” Ilardi says. “Social withdrawal amplifies the brain’s stress response. Social contact helps put the brakes on it.”
The Fix: Counteract social withdrawal by reaching out to your friends and family. Make a list of all the people in your life who you want to reconnect with, and do so.
- Skipping Exercise: If you go to the gym regularly, dropping a series of workouts can be a sign that something is not right in your life. When you are depressed, it is unlikely that you will keep up with your gym routine, even if that is what you should be doing. Exercise can be very therapeutic, and it can help boosts levels of serotonin and dopamine.
The Fix: Find someone you can trust to help you to initiate exercise, such as a personal trainer or loved one.
- Self-Medicating with Alcohol: Turning to alcohol or drugs to escape your woes is a pattern that can accompany depression and it usually causes your depression to get worse.
The Fix: Talk with your doctor if you notice that your drinking habits are making you feel worse. Alcohol can also interfere with antidepressants and anxiety medications.