If you have ever been depressed before you know how difficult it can be to get out of bed, deal with the stressors of daily life, and have the energy to speak with people. The longer the depression lasts, the more exhausting life becomes and there is little hope that things are going to get better. At this point the future job situation looks gloomy, you may feel isolated and unable to connect with anyone, and previously enjoyable activities seem to bring no pleasure or interest anymore.
As life becomes more challenging we naturally look to those activities that offer us comfort and relief. It is easiest to pick the ones that get us further away from the problem. The comfort of sleeping in offers more time rested and less time worrying. That favorite show you just started offers eight seasons of drama, suspense, and excitement. More time isolated offers a safe haven from some of the chaos in the world. We all have a need for retreat and relaxation, but what happens when these retreats happen daily? Usually the misery doesn’t just go away on it’s own and we wake-up to the same problems day after day.
Avoidance is the term known for escaping the difficulties and anxieties of daily living. Avoidance is depression’s best friend because it offers short term relief, but never leaves a satisfying remedy for the long haul. Avoidance often creates new problems! If you decide it’s time to hit the bar immediately after a break-up, this will probably lead to you feeling worse the following day and ruminating about how bad things are (this is not including all the legal troubles with a potential DUI).
We have to be careful because often avoidance comes in subtle ways or in the form of positive activities. Exercise is viewed as a healthy activity, but what if exercising is being used to avoid attending that group you were invited to or study for an upcoming test. Avoidance is different for everyone and an activity could serve two different purposes. To explain, taking a nap isn’t avoiding if it is being used to gain more energy to complete daily tasks. However, if it is your third nap of the day when you need to be searching for a job, then the nap is avoidance.
Once we come to know that avoidance is the enemy we can develop a path for overcoming depression! Behavioral Activation is a therapy that seeks to identify these avoidance patterns in our lives and find the alternative way to cope. After getting fired or laid-off from a job, there probably is a high urge to sleep, talk negatively about the job, or drink, but one of the best things you can do is immediately begin job searching. Even when you’re feeling down and defeated, we see our mood uplifted after making positive steps towards the problem. It’s a difficult path to do this, but beating depression is not an easy battle.
Having supports that will keep you accountable is also recommended! You never have to fight depression alone (which is actually not recommended for overcoming depression). Rather then waiting for the perfect mood to begin working on your goals, lets start working now and the mood will follow.