The Vicious Cycle of Depression


The symptoms of depression can bring about some drastic changes in a depressed person’s life, daily routines, and their behaviour. Often it is these changes that makes the depression worse and prevents the depressed person from getting better.

For example, a lack of motivation or a lack of energy can result in a depressed person cutting back on their activities, neglecting their daily tasks and responsibilities, and leaving decision-making to others. Have you noticed these changes in yourself when you are depressed?

You may find that you have become less and less active, don’t go out much anymore, avoid hanging out with friends, and stopped engaging in your favourite activity. When this happens, you have become locked in the vicious cycle of depression, which might look like this:

Depression Low energy, fatigue, decreased interest, Decreased activity, neglect of responsibilities Increased guilt, hopelessness, ineffectiveness and back again to depression and so on.

When your activity level decreases, you may become even less motivated and more lethargic. When you stop doing the things you used to love, you miss out on experiencing pleasant feelings and positive experiences. Your depression could get worse.

Similarly, when one begins neglecting a few tasks and responsibilities at work or at home, the list may begin to pile up. As such, when a depressed person thinks about the things they have to do, they may feel overwhelmed by the pile of things they have put off doing. This may result in them feeling guilty or thinking that they are ineffective or even, a failure. This will also worsen the depression.

Reversing the Vicious Cycle of Depression

One of the ways of breaking the vicious cycle of is through the use of medication. Medication such as antidepressants can help change your energy level and improve sleep. Another way is to simply increase your activity level, especially in pleasurable activities and the vicious cycle of Centre for Clinical Interventions

Psychotherapy Research Training tackling your list of tasks and responsibilities, but doing it in a realistic and achievable way, so that you set yourself up to succeed. Becoming more active has a number of advantages:

  • Activity helps you to feel better
  • Activity helps you to feel less tired
  • Activity can help you think more clearly

When the depression cycle is broken, it will look like this: Here’s a list of possible fun things to do. You can add your own to this list.

  1. Soaking in the bathtub
  2. Collecting things (coins, shells, etc.)
  3. Going for a day trip
  4. Going to see a comedy at the movies
  5. Going to the beach
  6. Playing squash/tennis/badminton
  7. Having a barbecue at the park
  8. Going for a walk, jog, or hike
  9. Listening to uplifting music
  10. Gardening

Try some of them out and evaluate how you feel before and after the activity. Chances are, you’ll find that you’ll feel a little better. The important thing is to persist – keeping your activity levels up is the first step to breaking out of that vicious cycle! The second step is to look at how thinking patterns contribute to the vicious cycle of depression.

I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. All feedback is much appreciated. Thank you. Erin

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