Friday, January 1, 2010

How to Give Yourself a Bad Case of Depression

Although major depression is a medical condition that is largely out of a person’s control, the following is a tongue-in-cheek list of some things you can do if you want to increase the odds that you will become depressed or stay depressed:

Think negatively
The way you think will influence how you feel and behave. Tell yourself how bad everything is and how much better off others are. Predict failure for yourself. When good things happen, try to find ways that these things are really bad news in disguise. Put a lot of stock in the negative things you come across and minimize the positive things. Tell yourself how hopeless things are and set your expectations low. Tell yourself how worthless you are. Blame yourself for things and take full responsibility for things that are totally out of your control. Never give yourself a break or forgive yourself. Demand perfection from yourself and punish yourself when you don’t achieve it.

Disrupt your sleep patterns
Good sleep habits are important for overall health, so you’ll definitely need to get either too much or too little sleep. If you sleep too much you will feel groggy and lack energy, and maybe you’ll even sleep through classes or work which will make you feel guilty and bad about yourself. If you get too little sleep you’ll forget things, you won’t learn as well, you will lack energy, and you won’t be functioning at your full potential. That’s bound to bring your mood down.

Be very sedentary
Regular exercise is also important to good overall health, so this is another thing you’ll want to be sure to neglect. Sit around on the couch a lot watching TV or playing video games. Surf the net for hours and play lots of computer games. Better yet, you could lie in bed much of the day with the blinds drawn. After a while, you’re sure to start feeling depressed.

Eat poorly
Good nutrition is important for overall health and well being, so you’ll need to make sure you eat too much or too little. Make sure that what you do eat is mainly junk food with little nutritional value. The gut is a major player in the system of chemicals that keep us feeling balanced, content, and satisfied. If you abuse your gut, you’re bound to feel bad.

Misuse alcohol and/or drugs
If you want to work up a good case of depression, use alcohol and marijuana excessively. These drugs are have depressant effects and although you may feel a short initial boost, ultimately they will depress your central nervous system. Some sleep aids and pain medications can also do this if they are abused. Even stimulants (like nicotine, caffeine, cocaine, and speed) can cause a rebound effect as your body tries to adjust to the chemical changes in your body – also known as “coming down”. You might feel sluggish, foggy, and irritable during these times. In addition, negative consequences associated with substance misuse like problems with your social life, legal problems, and academic or work problems will complicate matters for you. When you start to feel down, use even more substances to try to help yourself feel better. This vicious cycle will bring you even further down.

Withdraw from your friends and family
Social support and interaction are important to good health. Some research has shown that people with serious illnesses have better survival rates when they have strong social support networks. You’ll definitely want to break ties with the important people in your life to bring down your mood. Don’t participate in any hobbies or extracurricular activities. Drop out of clubs and organizations you belong to. Don’t answer the telephone and say no when people ask you out.

Don’t seek help or follow professional advice
Counseling and psychotropic medication are the enemies of depression, so you should not seek professional help of any kind. If you somehow wind up in the office of a counselor, don’t participate and don’t follow through. If, by chance, you are in therapy and start to feel a little better, drop out as quickly as possible. Don’t even consider taking medication for depression. If your doctor prescribes you medication, don’t take it as directed or better yet, don’t take it at all! If you decide to take the medication, stop taking it as soon as you feel even a little bit better.

But, I don't want to feel depressed!
Of course nobody wants to feel depressed, so a good place to start is ensuring you're not making a habit of doing the things listed above. If you or someone you love is exhibiting a number of these behaviors and having trouble making a change, talk to a mental health professional. A good therapist can give you some tips and techniques for breaking out of a depressive cycle. You can find mental health professionals in your area through online therapist locators such as those hosted by the American Psychological Association, Psychology Today, Network Therapy and GoodTherapy. You can also call the behavioral health number on the back of your insurance card or visit your insurance company website to get some referral options. If you are having thoughts of harming yourself, don't wait - act now!

For more information on depression and other mental health issues, please visit my website, http://www.kctherapist.com/.
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