The depressed mind produces thoughts that steal a person’s joy. Thoughts that make a person feel that ordinary or even enjoyable tasks are overwhelming. Thoughts that make things like showering, eating, going to work, and brushing your teeth, monumental tasks for the depressed mind.
As an example, Andrew Solomon in a TED Talk described his thought process about eating during a depressive episode. Andrew thought, “first I have to take out the food, then I have to make the food, then I have to chew the food, then I have to swallow the food.” This thinking led him to a decision not to eat. It would just take too much energy and time. This thought process made eating that is usually an enjoyable task seem like quite a chore.
This is just one example of how depression can take the joy out of living. As these thoughts of being overwhelmed take over the brain, people continue a downward spiral with feelings of guilt. Often, feeling guilt for not doing what needs to be done. This can lead to feelings of worthlessness, which then can contribute to suicidal thoughts.
What The Research Shows
When psychologists study what gives people joy in life, the only variable that makes a difference is spending time with good, socially supportive people. Even introverted people are happier when they spend more time with a support network. This also happens to be one thing that depressed people avoid doing, thus, another way in which depression has stolen their joy. People who are depressed become withdrawn from their friends and family, but the one thing that is shown to make the greatest difference in people’s level of happiness is spending time with others.
Sleep plays a major part in our health, both physical and mental. Often, people who are depressed do not sleep well at night. Sometimes they have difficulty going to sleep. Sometimes they wake in the middle of the night. Sometimes they wake up too early or a combination with all of these. This often makes people who are depressed tired in the morning, making it difficult to get out of bed. The lack of good sleep steals our joy and contributes to symptoms of fatigue and lack of concentration. Good sleep helps us feel rested and helps us to enjoy our day.
The good news is that depression is a treatable disease. Therapy is often very helpful for those with depression by working through situations that may have lead to depression. Therapy also helps to develop new coping skills to deal with emotions. Therapy can get your joy back.
by Dawn Ottenbreit, MA, LLP
If you or anyone you know could benefit from speaking with a caring, trusting therapist, call Perspectives of Troy at 248-244-8644.