Getting Through the Day When You Have Crippling Depression
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated December 25, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
When you have crippling depression, sometimes just getting through the day is a challenge. There are days when you don't even want to get out of bed and showering and getting dressed may feel like big achievements. When you're depressed, it's important not to be too hard on yourself. It's okay to ask for help—and know there are treatments (like medication and therapy) that can help you move forward, back to doing the things you used to enjoy. With the right treatment plan, you can begin tackling your symptoms.
What Is Crippling Depression?
While there's some disagreement on the exact definition of crippling depression, it is generally synonymous with clinical depression (also known as major depression or major depressive disorder). Crippling depression is more than about feeling sadness; it affects a person's ability to function on a basic level and interferes with a person's work, life, and relationships.
Are you or someone you know living with depression that's having a negative impact on the quality of life? It's important to speak to your doctor or a medical professional to get a diagnosis, so you will be able to consider the different treatment options available to you.
Some common symptoms of clinical depression include:
- Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
- Sleep disturbances (sleeping too much or too little)
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Sudden angry outbursts
- Slowed thought, speech, and physical movements
- Loss of interest in usual interests or activities
- Suicidal thoughts and/or attempts
To be diagnosed with clinical depression, patients must report experiencing a depressed mood for most of the day, daily, for at least two weeks.
How Do You Get Through The Day With Crippling Depression?
When you struggle with depression, life will look different than it does on days that you're doing well. While each person might respond differently to depression, there are some widely used tactics with the potential to help improve your mood. Read through this list to see what you can do to get through the day.
Get Into A Routine
Trying to follow a basic routine every day (or even five days a week) can help give you structure and be the push you need to get going even when you aren't feeling up to it. What makes you feel good and ready to get your day started in the morning? Start there. For example, having your clothes laid out the night before, jumping in the shower, then eating breakfast with a nice cup of coffee or tea?
Design your routine the way you like it, so getting up and beginning your day won't feel like too much of a drag. Make sure you schedule self-care into your week too! Planning a nice long bath as a way to relax after a stressful day can make a big difference in how you feel.
When you have crippling depression, it’s common to have good days and bad days. As much as you might try to plan and prepare for life’s moments, there will be days when you aren't feeling up to doing anything, and that's okay. Being too hard on yourself can make things worse, so instead, allow yourself all the time you need to begin feeling better. Remember the mantra that tomorrow is a new day to make a fresh start.
Sometimes we are way too hard on ourselves and it’s easy to imagine that the world can't go on without us. You might panic at the thought of calling into work sick or worry that if you take a nap, you might miss picking up your kids from school. While you are important, cut yourself some slack. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that your boss and co-workers are understanding of your situation and want you to get better or that a family member or close friend is more than happy to pick up your kids from school to give you a break.
Have A Support System
A strong support system is an excellent way to complement medical treatment for your clinical depression. A support system that consists of friends, family, doctors, and therapists can help you get through your worst depressive episodes and potentially help you keep your depression under control so that future episodes are less frequent, or at least less severe.
It's important that your support system is understanding and knows at least a little bit about depression so they can know what to expect, but also how they can help. Let your friends and family know that sometimes you may just need them to be around. Other times, you may ask them to help around the house or sit and listen when you need to talk.
Celebrate Wins (Big And Small)
Just like it's important to forgive yourself when you need rest, it's also quite vital that you celebrate little victories. From making your bed in the morning to working all week without calling in sick or leaving the job early, do your best to try to recognize that you can do things despite your depression. You deserve to live a happy life and to celebrate every single win, big or small.
Alternatively, if you only focus on the negatives, you could keep yourself in a depressed frame of mind longer. When you've been doing well for a while, or you've been pushing through despite wanting to curl up in bed all day, take notice and give yourself credit. Experiencing positive moments is a great way to turn the focus off things making you feel down and focus instead on your progress.
Like other responsibilities, sometimes we'd rather curl up and watch TV instead of making time to work out or do something else that's good for us. Taking good care of yourself can be challenging, but it's important to your physical and mental health.
Take the time to incorporate exercise into your day—enough that you actually sweat. A little exercise can go a long way: research shows that exercise is an effective form of treatment for depression.
Keep in mind that exercise doesn't have to be complicated. It can be as simple as doing five pushups followed by 20 sit-ups and repeating again and again until you start to sweat. Always remember to stretch and to take deep breaths. (It's important to note that this article does not suggest exercise as a form of treatment for depression. Rather, physical activity is mentioned because of its well-documented depression treatment benefits.)
Working with a mental health professional can be an important part of learning how to overcome depression. Not only can online therapists help you identify depression triggers, but they can help you learn coping strategies for times when your depression hits especially hard. Research shows that online therapy can play a significant role in reducing depression symptoms. For example, one study found that online therapy was even more effective than traditional in-person sessions, with a majority of participants in the online group showing continued symptom reduction three months after treatment. On the other hand, individuals in the face-to-face group showed “significantly worsened depressive symptoms” over the same period. This study explores how internet-based treatment compares to regular face-to-face therapy.
If you struggle with depression, the last thing you might want to do is drive to a therapist's office for a session. If that sounds like you, online therapy with BetterHelp could be a great solution. BetterHelp’s online therapy platform allows you access to trained professionals right from the comfort of your home, day or night. And, you can be in contact with them on a more regular basis, which can be a comfort during the tough times when you may need to speak with a trusted professional. Consider the following reviews of BetterHelp therapists below, from people experiencing similar issues.
“Thanks to Melissa Powell I have come to the realization that I am dealing with depression and anxiety (a hard pill to swallow) and am now working on developing a routine/coping and grounding skills that will assist me in everyday living and in the event of an anxiety attack or a depression episode. Melissa also helped me understand that some days are going to be harder than most and on those days I have to work harder to get the simplest of tasks done and that is ok.”
“Adrianne is fantastic! She's a great listener and is great to talk to. She really understands what I'm going through and how I'm feeling. In-between sessions she sends me exercises that give me things I can work on based on what we've talked about. I can also message her via text/voice if I need anything and I get a quick response. Adrianne has been helping me through my depression and I'm grateful for all she's done so far. I really look forward to our sessions.”
If you're living with crippling depression, try implementing the tips above to find what helps you make it through the day. No matter what, you can get through this. All you need are the right tools.
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