10 habits that make depression worse
Lifestyle and habits can contribute to depression and unhappiness. Depression is one of the most common mental health debilities affecting one in 6 men and one in 4 women in their lifetime according to research.
There are many risk factors that lead to one developing depression. These factors may be environmental, genetic, or even due to adverse events.
And while we consider risk factors, we also must consider habits that make depression worse.
If you have symptoms of clinical depression, it is very important that you seek treatment immediately. Being in the care of your doctor as well as a mental health professional is crucial in managing symptoms and living as healthily as possible.
When it comes to depression a whole person treatment approach is key as well as being an active participant in your care.
So that is why it is important to assess your life and see if there are things you are engaging in that can trigger symptoms, or even make your depression worse.
And with that said, here are ten habits that make depression much worse.
Habits that make depression worse.
#1. Drinking alcohol.
It is easy to be tempted to drink when you are feeling down. You may be thinking it will make you feel better. Ease the heaviness of depression. Unfortunately, alcohol is a depressant as well.
So it makes one feel even more depressed. Also if you drink too much you are likely to feel sick physically and even more tired.
With depression, you’re already tired and drinking exacerbates the tiredness. Habitual drinking may also lead you to stop meeting life responsibilities and the demand of everyday life. This causes important things in your life to go wrong. The result is more unhappiness and worsening of depression.
Alcohol lowers inhibitions and, it can lead to risky behaviors that lead to bad choices and unhappiness.
Additionally, you may stop adhering to the treatment plan, ignore taking meds, and keeping appointments. This can leave one without treatment and make symptoms worse.
#2 Sitting too long
Being inactive causes so many health problems.
It is said that being inactive is the same as smoking. It affects your physical health as well and your mental health. You have heard of runners high? It is that great vibrant feeling you get after a brisk walk or any exercise. You feel good. Thank your endorphins-the feel-good neurotransmitters that get released when you exercise.
Of course sitting too long means no endorphins. And so if you have depression, lack of exercise keeps you feeling sadder and heavy mentally and physically.
And of course, habitual inactivity may cause other physical illnesses including obesity with its many resultant problems and lower self-esteem. All these contribute to feeling even more depressed.
So make it a habit to exercise. Go out and take a brisk walk. If you can’t go outside, exercise at home. Look for exercises you can do right in your living room on Youtube.
#3 The wrong diet
Indulging in sugary foods and lots of refined carbs and trans fats makes depression worse. There is more and more research, such as this one showing that eating the western diet which mostly includes processed foods, sugar, simple carbs, and trans fats is directly related to depression.
The other problem with the western diet is that it promotes a leaky gut. When leaky gut happens the gut bacteria population changes, and there are more of the bad guys, including SIBO.
Some of these bacteria have a way by which they affect behavior too including making you eat more bad sugary food too. Also, there is a big connection between your brain and the gut.
The gut is actually your second brain and is in communication with your brain. That communication can get messed up leading to depression and anxiety or making these conditions worse.
A 2020 study in the journal of environmental research found that some vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, including folate and magnesium, have a moderate effect on improving depression.
Research studies have shown that some nutritional deficiencies such as B vitamins and especially folate ( vitamin B 9), can cause depression. You see, folate is essential in the methyl process.
Another 2019 controlled study found that eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, and avoiding processed foods significantly improved depression.
The researchers found that the depression level of the control group in the study remained moderate to severe as they continued to eat processed foods.
The trouble with processed foods is they lack nutrients and are high in simple sugars and additives. Simple sugars foods are notorious for increasing blood sugar suddenly and then getting processed real quickly. This causes a crash situation leaving you feeling fatigued, sluggish, and more depressed.
It is best to avoid prepackaged foods and processed foods. Eat more fruits and vegetables and real whole foods. Organic is always better to avoid toxins because toxins may contribute to symptoms.
#4 Isolating yourself
One of the most important things to have for good mental health is to feel connected to people who love you. Personal connections and love are so important for mental balance.
So it is important not to neglect your relationships even when you may not particularly feel like talking.
Keep in touch and good thing in modern life you can text too. So write and talk to the people in your life. When you isolate yourself it makes you feel lonely and makes you feel even more depressed.
Let your friends and family know how you feel. You just need one or two really good friends and teach them that it is okay to be there even if you are not talkative. It is okay to be with you and you with them even in supporting silence. Just being present is helpful.
And while it is hard to reach out to people, make an effort to call or just text friends and family and respond when they reach out. Just don’t distance yourself and be all alone because that can make you sink deeper into depression.
It is easy to want to hide but I find just talking to a friend- and it can be about other things, makes me feel lighter, happier.
#5 Not dealing well with stress.
Let’s face it. Life is stressful for the most part. And stress can make depression way worse. The biggest problem is not handling stress well.
And also, increased stress is toxic. So when stress is not dealt with appropriately, you get more stressed and get caught up in a stress cycle with more and more things piling up. This is dangerous to both mental and physical health. You may even end up with elevated cortisol levels and adrenal fatigue and increased depression.
Also, some people will deal with stress by drinking, and finding some other escapist habits including drugs all likely to cause even more problems making depression worse.
All of these scenarios can spiral into total negativity, irritability, and anger.
To reduce and manage stress well it is best to have systems that streamline your life for the most part. It is not to say that life won’t occasionally throw you a curve as it does. But you have systems that you have implemented then when life’s troubles come, all of your life is not out of control.
Here are some ideas on implementing systems to keep life smooth and less stressful.
- planning. This can include planning your day and planning weekly meals,
- ensuring you have routines that streamline your life. For example having a night and a morning routine, so that you sleep well, and early enough, therefore, has energy in the morning. You also will be able to wake up early so you are not rushing to get ready for the day.
- meeting your deadlines in time
- not procrastinating, delegating, having a budget, and keeping to it.
- avoiding overpromising and stretching yourself too thin.
So the key is being prepared as much as possible and simplifying and streamlining life.
#6 Terrible sleep hygiene makes depression worse.
Bad sleep hygiene can worsen depression.
Going to bed late and not sleeping enough or getting quality sleep is associated with negative mental health outcomes including depression. A 2014 cognitive therapy study found that the duration of sleep and sleep timing was related to repetitive negative thinking a characteristic of depression.
Having less sleep has a massive effect on mental health and can worsen depression. Those who suffer from insomnia are more likely to suffer from depression than those who don’t.
The other side of the coin is just as bad. That is when depressed you have no energy at time s and may just want to spend the whole day in bed.
It is hard I know but try with all you have in you to get up, take a shower and eat something. And hopefully, you have something nutritious. Make that effort to eat count.
And if not so cold outside take a 15-minute walk outside. This will massively help to improve your mood. It is really hard so I am advocating a massive effort from you.
That fifteen minutes of walk will get you some vitamin D and improve your circulation, oxygenation and give you a boost of endorphins. All these improve mood.
#7 Having a negative mindset makes depression worse
If you tend to focus on negative things, you will increase feelings of hopelessness. Seeing things as always bad and only seeing the bad in a situation is bad for mental health, especially because it can make you feel you have no control.
This causes helplessness and a sense of doom and gloom, all very bad in addition to depression. Such a mindset can increase depression.
Learn to focus on the good. It is hard but it can be done. It is a matter of retraining your brain to look for something to be thankful for. Learning this is essential to happiness. And there is too immense power in manifesting through gratitude and acting as if.
And even if the only thought you have is, “okay things could have been worse but they are not”. Focus on hope and faith that tomorrow or soon things will improve.
While our minds are wired like this so we can be on the lookout for bears and such, with some effort you can rewire your brain to look on the sunny side of life. And keep doing this and you may be surprised to find the cloud weighing you down lifting.
To get you started on boosting the power of positive thinking, here are 22 motivational and uplifting quotes for hard times.
#8 Not seeking help
Many people delay seeking help or they just feel they can do it alone. They scoff at therapy. It is a big mistake not to seek help when you have depression. Lack of counseling care can definitely make depression worse because then you bottle everything in and in many cases you may lack insight into your condition, your relationships, and your habits and lifestyle.
Therapy can help you untangle the mess that is life. Without therapy, you may just clam up with all the poison from adverse life situations eating at your mind. This is like keeping poison inside that corrodes your mind and life.
When you don’t seek help, then you fail to get guidance to get from where you are mentally to a better happier place.
While a chemical imbalance may be the cause of depression, life issues can exacerbate depression so you do need help to unload and to deal with issues in life appropriately.
Seek therapy because it equips you to handle the heavy burdening stuff that may also be at the heart of the depression.
#9 Spending time in a toxic environment
Sometimes, depression is worse because of the people we surround ourselves with. Now, sometimes you may not have a choice when these people are family. After all, we don’t choose our parents siblings, and other members.
But if at all possible distance yourself and avoid engaging with them when you can. If you have toxic friends it is much easier to draw boundaries and keep away or end relationships. However, one hard relationship to deal with is one with a toxic spouse or significant other.
Sometimes people you bring into your life may turn out to be other than what you thought they would be. That is usually a hard situation and really impacts depression.
Seek help if you have such a relationship or you have toxic family members. Counseling and support are necessary in order to navigate such a relationship, and in the case of a spouse, you may need help to end the relationship.
Get help through therapy if you are having a hard time with a significant relationship. Get out of there. Again talk to friends and family. Find support groups also to be with others who have gone through the same thing. That helps a lot.
#10 Self-destructive short-term fixes.
Looking to fix the bad feelings in your head with an unhealthy quick fix often makes depression worse. These include things such as short-lived relationships(one-night stands and flings) and promiscuous behavior. Unfortunately, this leaves you feeling way worse and self-loathing.
Other short-lived fixes include things like shopping. While buying a new shiny trinket will make you happy, at the moment, you may end up feeling guilty and unhappy if you are using the money you don’t have.
And if you are shopping to fix depression, the joy of purchase only lasts a short time and before you know it has become a habit and puts you in a financial hole. And if you have a significant other, overspending can strain the relationship and make you feel lower and more depressed.
Other just as bad quick fixes may include excess drinking, partying, and drugs. All these aim to provide a quick rush and escape but they bring regret, and emotional pain as they destroy not just one’s life but that of the family. And some fixes such as alcohol eventually lead to physical illness like cirrhosis, Esophageal varices, fatty liver, and many more. Please seek professional care if depression is making you seek such methods to deal with it.
Depression is a devastating illness. It is a thief to life. It is not your fault if you have depression. There are many causes and things that can predispose one to get depressed, but lifestyle and habits can make your depression worse.
When you have an illness it is important to do what helps. If you have hypertension you try to stay away from sodium, and if you have diabetes, you try to eat food that won’t raise your blood sugar. You adjust lifestyle and habits. It is the same with depression.
Adjust your lifestyle and adopting positive healthy habits will help you feel better and improve your mood while doing the opposite and adopting quick toxic habits and other bad habits has a really negative impact on depression and make depression much worse.
So tell me in the comments, which habits do you plan on changing? Which positive habits will you adopt?
And here is to you, and wishing you health, and may you find joy and happiness and life fulfillment.