Habits That Are Making Your Depression Worse
If you do suffer from depression, hopefully, you are in counseling so you can determine if it’s a result of brain chemistry and must be treated with medication, or a result of circumstances in your life. Regardless of the cause of your depression, there are certain habits that can make it worse—even if you are medicated for it. Depressives are more sensitive to the effects of small changes in schedules, the company they keep, the weather, the music playing in the room and more. While those who don’t suffer from depression have the mental tools in play to bounce back from little shifts that could bring their moods down, depressed individuals, unfortunately, struggle to find or use those same tools and need to be more careful. Here are habits that are making your depression worse.
The blood sugar spike and crash that comes from drinking alcohol causes next-day blues in most individuals. But the effects can be amplified in those already struggling with brain chemistry imbalances causing depression.
Spending too much time on social media
People with depression need to be careful about the information and images to which they’re exposed. Seeing people who they perceive to have “better lives” than them can affect them more strongly than it does those who aren’t depressed.
Eating fried foods
The trans fats found in fried foods—and other foods like potato chips and pastries—destroys cell membranes in the brain. This makes it hard for the body to produce and digest certain nutrients critical to feeling happy. The effects can be heightened for those already suffering from depression.
Consuming too much sugar
We already know that the sugar spikes and crashes from alcohol are problematic for those with depression. So it’s no surprise that sugary foods cause the same issue. But they also come with the guilt people can feel about eating unhealthy food.
Doing recreational drugs
Everyone—depressed or not—suffers from a small bout of depression in the days after doing recreational drugs. But this bout can be insufferable for those who were already depressed.
Sleeping too much
Oversleeping not only messes with the brain’s chemistry and can cause feelings of sadness, but it also creates a feeling of “missing out” or not accomplishing one’s goals.
Not sleeping enough
Not sleeping enough also wreaks havoc on the brain’s chemistry and can cause depression in otherwise stable individuals. Those who are depressed cannot afford to miss out on those Z’s.
Living a sedentary lifestyle
Moving your body is essential to producing hormones and chemicals that make you feel happy. People who are not depressed may be able to combat the sadness that comes from a sedentary life, but those who are depressed will have a much harder time.
Buying something they shouldn’t leaves everybody feeling a little guilty. But individuals who are depressed can go into a downward spiral of feeling they have no control over their habits and are losing a grasp on their life when they overspend.
Watching the wrong genres
Crime recreation shows, prison shows, documentaries about human injustice and horror films will leave anybody feeling a bit dark. But the ideas perpetuated in these genres can infiltrate the brain of a depressed person more deeply.
Nobody likes stress. But people who are not depressed have the mental facilities to do things that combat stress, like see friends, go out dancing and so on. Depressed individuals have a hard enough time doing those things when they are not under stress—and seriously struggle to do them when they are.
Casual sexual encounters
Casual sexual encounters are confusing on the body. They at first produce a burst of happy hormones, but then there is a withdrawal when the sexual partner goes away. Happy individuals can usually bounce back from it quickly, but depressed individuals can be significantly affected by it.
Dare devil thrills
It’s common for people to want to try something crazy every so often—like skydiving or getting a tattoo! But this high high comes with an equally low low after the fact—a low that can be hard for depressives to get out of.
Saying no to socializing
Humans are social creatures. Of course, we all have hermit tendencies from time to time. But while getting out of the house to socialize is even harder for depressed individuals, it’s that much more important. They cannot afford the deficit of happy brain chemicals that comes with a hermit lifestyle.
Talking to other depressives exclusively
While surrounding oneself with people who understands them is comforting, it can be problematic for depressives. Dwelling in the topic of depression could feel cathartic in the moment, but when those friends go away, it can leave the depressed person feeling even less hopeful about overcoming their circumstance. You need to surround yourself with positive, happy individuals to develop the belief that you, too, could be one some day.
Hiding your depression entirely
On the flip side, hiding one’s depression entirely can make matters worse, too. That’s why seeing a therapist, and having a set time and place where the depression can be acknowledged, is crucial.
Being a night owl
Everybody needs sun exposure to get that oh-so-important vitamin D. But depressed individuals will feel the hit of a vitamin D deficiency stronger than happy individuals.
Obsessing about things that went wrong
We all dwell sometimes. But depressed individuals don’t have the systems in place in their brains to stop the cycle of dwelling. Again, this is why seeking professional help is important.
Nicotine causes mood swings in emotionally stable people. Those mood swings are intensified in depressed individuals.
This goes back to that vitamin D deficiency. It’s great that the depressed individual is exercising, but if she spends all day indoors at work, then goes to the gym, and goes home, she doesn’t get any vitamin D.