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Five Factors That Can Make Depression Worse

depressionDepression can be a difficult disorder, requiring the person experiencing it to take special care of themselves as not to make the depression worse.[1]

“There are many things a person who lives with depression needs to be mindful of for better well-being, ” said Deborah Serani, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and author of the book Living with Depression.1

Serani shared six triggers that can make depression worse—and what you can do to minimize them.1

Stress

“A surplus of stress spikes the hormone cortisol,” said Serani. “Cortisol keeps us in an ‘emergency ready’ state, with states of arousal and irritability that tax our already fatigued body and mind.”1

Therefore, to minimize stress, divide large projects into smaller parts, ask for help when you need it, and  learn to say no.1

“Above all, resist the tendency to take on too much at home, work, or school,” Serani said.1

Sleep

The relationship between sleep and depression is complicated.1 People with depression often have disrupted sleep.1 Others may sleep too much.1

“Making sure the architecture of your sleep cycle is predictable and sound will help keep depression symptoms from worsening,” said Serani. “Consistency is key in enhancing sleep quality and quantity. Go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, and if you take naps, make sure they don’t sabotage nighttime sleeping.”1

Toxic People

Toxic people are people who are “negative and corrosive.”1 They don’t understand how depression affects life.1 Therefore, avoiding interacting with these individuals completely, or as much as possible, will limit some of the negativity in life.1 Instead, focusing on people who are positive is important.1

“Part of living with depression requires you to learn how to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones, so having people in your life that are affirmative, nurturing, and accepting of who you are will help ground you in a better healing environment,” said Serani.1

Media

The evening news, especially if it is upsetting or disturbing, can really exacerbate depression.1 Instead, keep up with current events by reading selective articles.1 Expose yourself to more good news than bad.1

“I know that my depressive symptoms worsen if I’m exposed to horrifying news, startling stories, or dramatic films,” said Serani.1

Anniversaries

On and around the date of a past traumatic event can bring about extremely distressing feelings.1 Events that may trigger an anniversary reaction include anything from a loved one’s passing to a stressful doctor’s appointment.1

“Take a look at the dates on the calendar to raise awareness of any emotional days that may be coming up,” said Serani. “Knowing these days are coming up will help you better prepare for them. For instance, let your loved ones know about potentially problematic days. See if they can check in on you or offer support in some way.”1



[1] Tartakovsky, M. (2012). 6 Things That Can Worsen Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/10/02/6-things-that-can-worsen-depression/

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