It can be a slippery slope to Depression: One thing leads to another, and before you know it, you may struggle to see your way back to your “old self”.
It can take one event or life change – loss of a loved one, stress in a job, relationship struggles, ill health, moving away from home – that may bring about depressive symptoms that don’t resolve, such as low mood, poor motivation, social withdrawal.
Unfortunately, most people normalise these feelings or just tolerate them. For instance, it’s common to blame work or study for causing a low mood or an inability to socialise. Similarly, you may experience difficult emotions related to an event – sick family member, relationship breakdown, loss of a loved one – and expect ongoing suffering is “just a part of life”.
When depressive symptoms are tolerated or normalised it can be a slippery slope to developing full depression. There are a few key symptoms that greatly increase someone’s vulnerability to depression.
Key Symptoms that Increase the Risk of Depression
When we feel stressed, flat, tired or sad, it’s hard to muster up the motivation to socialise. While on occasion it’s normal to skip out on a catch up, prolonged avoidance of social events increases the risk of depression. Socialising provides connection to others, emotional support and shapes your identity. At a very minimum, socialising is a healthy distraction from any hardship. A lack of socialising directly affects wellbeing; we can feel lonely, unhappy and struggle to see the point in life.
Lack of self care
One of the early signs of depression is a lack of self care – for example, eating poorly, sleeping too much or too little, working yourself into the ground, drinking too much alcohol, poor hygiene or grooming, etc. A lack of self-care is equivalent to disrespecting yourself, which slowly erodes self worth; a key feature of depression.
Withdrawing from activities that spark joy – hobbies and fun things, like going to the movies – increases the likelihood of developing depression. Seeking enjoyment in life (even in a small way) creates happiness and balance amidst our busy lives. When we’re tired, stressed or flat, often enjoyable activities are the first thing we neglect. Reduced engagement in enjoyable activities affects overall happiness and hope for the future.
Protecting Yourself Against Depression
It is worth noting, the above symptoms are all behaviours, as opposed to emotions or thoughts. Therefore, you can protect yourself against depression by maintaining behaviours around self-care, socialising and enjoyment. You may at times “feel” unmotivated to do these things if you’re stressed, low in mood or grumpy, but maintaining these behaviours will help you stay well.
How can Peaceful Mind Psychology Help?
Our team of warm and professional Melbourne psychologists are trained and experienced in helping individuals overcome depression and symptoms of depression. We are also skilled in treating anxiety and other difficulties connected to depression, such as relationship counselling, substance abuse, work stress, and grief and loss. If you would like some professional assistance contact us at Peaceful Mind Psychology.