Getting Through the Day When You Have Crippling Depression
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated September 21, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
When you have crippling depression, sometimes just getting through the day is a big challenge. There are days when you don't even want to get out of bed. When you're depressed, it's important not to be too hard on yourself. Even showering and getting dressed are big achievements. It's okay to ask for help-and know there are treatments (like medication and therapy) that can help you move forward, to doing things you used to enjoy.
What Is Crippling Depression?
There's some disagreement on the definition of crippling depression. Generally, crippling depression is clinical depression (also known as major depression or major depressive disorder) that is so bad it affects a person's ability to function on a basic level. It interferes with a person's work, life, and relationships.
Are you or someone you know suffering from depression that's having a negative impact on your 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 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 things you can try that help the majority of people. See which ones help you the most.
Get into a Routine
Trying to follow a basic routine every day (or even five days a week) can give you structure and help you 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? 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 going through 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 to relax after a stressful day during the week can make a big difference in how you feel.
When you have crippling depression, you need to accept that you're going to have good days and bad days. As much as you might try to plan and prepare, there will be days when you aren't feeling up to doing anything, and that's okay. Being too hard on yourself will make things worse. Allow yourself the time you need to feel better and know that tomorrow is a new day.
Sometimes we are way too hard on ourselves and imagine that the world can't go on without us. You might panic at the thought of calling into work or worry that if you take a nap, you might miss picking up your kids from school. Cut yourself some slack. You might be surprised to find that your boss and co-workers are understanding and want you to get better, or a family member might be 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 the 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 how depression works. The wrong approach can be less than helpful, which is why it's important to surround yourself with the right people. Let your friends and family know that sometimes you may just need them to be around, help around the house a little, or 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 important that you celebrate wins when you're feeling depressed. From making your bed in the morning to going to work all week without calling in sick or leaving early, it's important that you recognize that you can do things despite your depression. You deserve to live a happy life and to celebrate wins, big or small.
When you've been doing well for a while, or you've been pushing through despite wanting to curl up in bed all day, give yourself credit. Noticing when you do. Experiencing good moments is a great way to turn the focus off things making you feel down. If you only focus on what you do wrong, you're going to keep yourself in a depressed frame of mind longer.
Taking good care of yourself can be hard but it's important. Take the time to work exercise (enough to sweat) into your day. Like other responsibilities, sometimes we'd rather curl up and watch TV instead of taking time out of our day to work out or do something else that's good for us. Just remember that a little exercise can go a long way: research shows that physical 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, and 20 sit-ups, and repeating until you start to sweat. Just remember to stretch, and take deep breaths. It's important to note that this article is not suggesting physical exercise as a form of treatment for depression to belittle the seriousness of depression. It's because of the well-documented benefits of exercise (for legitimately treating depression) that physical exercise made it on this list.
Working with a mental health professional can be an important part of learning how to overcome depression. Not only can they help you identify triggers, but they can help you learn coping strategies you can use when your depression hits hard. Research shows that therapy can play a significant role in reducing depression symptoms.
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. It allows you access to trained professionals right from the comfort of your home. And you can be in contact with them on a more regular basis, which can help during the tough times. Consider the following reviews of BetterHelp therapists below.
"I have only been working with Emily Priestaf for about a week but she has already helped give me ideas on how to help beat my depression and get back into doing the things I love. She is very encouraging and helps talk me through what I'm feeling. Being back in therapy has helped a lot and I couldn't be more grateful to have her as my therapist.
"Tim has given me some amazing insights to contemplate. He has offered me different ways of viewing my problems and approaching them. He has given me concrete tools to use to manage my stress and improve my depression. He is incredibly responsive and helpful. I'm blown away by how much I like this platform and how helpful Tim has been."
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.