Getting Through The Day With Severe "Crippling" Depression

Medically reviewed by Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC
Updated May 17, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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Severe depression can sometimes make getting through the day challenging. You might have days or weeks where you don't want to get out of bed, shower, get dressed, clean, or brush your hair. When you have depression, it can be beneficial to take the pressure off yourself and know it's okay to ask for help. With a treatment plan, you can begin addressing symptoms and returning to the activities you enjoy. 

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Crippling depression can make it difficult to do anything

What is "crippling" depression?

"Crippling" depression is a pop culture term that describes severe clinical depression, clinically known as major depressive disorder. Major depressive disorder is a depressive disorder, alongside several other forms of depression, including the following:  

  • Postpartum depression
  • Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) 
  • Seasonal affective disorder 
  • Major depressive disorder with psychotic features 

Major depressive disorder can involve feelings of sadness that affect a person's ability to function on a fundamental level. It can lead to job loss, estranged relationships, substance use, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts. 

Below are a few of the most common symptoms of depression:

  • Prolonged feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Sleep disturbances and changes, like insomnia and hypersomnia 
  • Appetite changes
  • Irritability or anger 
  • Slowed thought, speech, and physical movements
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities 
  • Difficulty completing daily activities, such as bathing, household chores, or work
  • Suicidal thoughts 

To be diagnosed with clinical depression, symptoms must persist for most days for more than two weeks. 

Risk factors for depression

Below are a few potential risk factors for depression:

  • Family history or genetics
  • Substance use
  • Major life changes
  • Grief after the loss of a loved one 
  • Relational conflict
  • Certain medications
  • Isolation
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How can you get through the day with severe depression? 

While each person might respond differently to depression, there are some widely used tactics with the potential to improve your mood, including the following. 

Start a routine

Following a daily or five-day routine may offer you structure and physical well-being, which could reduce the impacts of depression. Using a habit-tracking app on your phone or computer could help you get started. Make a list of the routine you'd like to have and work to improve it through steps like drinking more water, taking a daily walk, or showering on a schedule. 

Design your routine so waking up can feel more manageable. You might offer yourself a reward if you get out of bed on time in the morning. In addition, you can schedule self-care and relaxation into your agenda to ensure you have coping skills for difficult moments throughout the week. 

Forgive yourself

When living with depression, you might experience some positive days and others where it's more challenging to care for yourself. As much as you might try to plan and prepare for life's moments, there may be days when you struggle to function as well as you'd like. Try not to be hard on yourself during these times. Instead, allow yourself the time you need to feel better and try to remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day. 

Have a support system in place 

A robust support system can be an essential complement to medical treatment for depression. A support system that consists of friends, family members, doctors, and therapists can help you cope with your depressive symptoms and potentially prevent future severe episodes.  

Celebrate all wins 

Like it's important to forgive yourself when you need rest, celebrating all victories can also be beneficial. From making your bed in the morning to working all week without calling in sick, celebrating the times you make strides to care for yourself may improve your mental health. 

If you focus on what you haven't been able to accomplish, your thought patterns may worsen depressive symptoms. When you've been doing well or have gotten up in the morning despite not wanting to, take notice and give yourself credit. Experiencing positive moments is one way to turn the focus off of your depression and onto your progress. 

Exercise 

Some people may feel that the only way to exercise is by going to the gym or doing a high-intensity workout. However, exercise doesn't necessarily have to be intense or complex. Research shows that exercise can help alleviate the symptoms of depression. Exercise might mean walking for 30 minutes, stretching, or doing a few yoga poses after work. If you exercise outside, you can also reap the benefits of being in nature, which has been linked with mental health. 

How to treat severe depression 

While severe depression can feel debilitating, depression is a treatable mental illness. With severe symptoms of depression, seek professional medical advice from health and wellness professionals, such as a doctor or psychiatrist. Below are two of the most common treatment options for depression.  

Therapy 

Below are a few of the common therapeutic approaches for depression:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) 
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) 
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) 
  • Family therapy
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
  • Person-centered therapy 
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) 

Talk therapy is one of the most effective forms of treatment for depression, though it is often combined with medications to reduce severe symptoms.

Medication 

While therapy takes time, your treatment provider may prescribe antidepressant medications to you to help manage symptoms. Taking medications can help you temporarily reduce the worst symptoms of depression to help you focus on therapy. 

A meta-review in the Lancet found that all forms of antidepressant medication were more effective than placebo in treating major depression. The medication your doctor prescribes can depend on your symptoms. Consult with your doctor before starting, changing, or stopping a medication. 

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Crippling depression can make it difficult to do anything

How to find support 

Working with a mental health professional can be essential to overcoming depression. However, if you're living with depression symptoms that make it difficult to get out of bed, you may not want to drive to a therapist's office for a session. Online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp is one way to get treatment from the comfort of your home. 

With an online therapy platform, you don't have to drive to an office or meet face-to-face with someone. You can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions and attend therapy from bed in your pajamas if it feels best to you. 

Research shows that online therapy can play a significant role in reducing depression symptoms. For example, one study found that online therapy was more effective than traditional in-person sessions, with most participants in the online group showing continued symptom reduction three months after treatment. Another found that participation in a therapist-supervised, mobile phone app-based treatment program significantly decreased symptoms among those with moderate-to-severe depression. 

Takeaway

If you're living with severe depression, try implementing the tips above to find what helps you make it through the day. Depression is often manageable and treatable with support and self-care. If you're interested in speaking to a professional about the severity of your symptoms, consider also reaching out to a licensed therapist for support.
Depression is treatable, and you're not alone
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