How To Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself
By: Sarah Fader
Updated June 01, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Kristen Hardin
It has happened to all of us at one time or another. Who can honestly say they have never felt a bit sorry for themselves? While it is natural to feel sad for a short period of time, feeling sad for long periods of time may be a sign of something more serious such as depression. If you find that you are feeling sorry for yourself or feeling hopeless or sad more often than not, it is probably a good idea to figure out what it is making you feel that way and seeking help from a counselor is often the best place to start.
Why are You Feeling that Way?
First, you have to figure out why you are feeling sorry for yourself. Did something bad happen that started this feeling or did you just wake up sad and have not been able to explain it or get rid of it? If you and your significant other got into an argument or you lost your job, it is normal, healthy even, to feel down. If it goes on to a point where you stop functioning at your usual level, for example, you stop responding to messages from your friends, you stop showering for days at a time, or you find yourself just not caring about things that used to be important to you, it is probably a good idea to talk to a counselor.
It is just as important to note that there doesn't have to be a specific reason. Many people with clinical depression do not have one certain trigger or reason they feel depressed. It could have something to do with body chemistry, lifestyle, or for reasons we don't necessarily understand. The good news is that you can seek treatment and get better even if you never know with certainty what caused the depression or sadness.
Clinical depression may include some of the following symptoms:
- Inability to concentrate
- Lack of interest in activities you usually enjoy
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Weight loss or gain
- Eating less or more than usual
- Prolonged sadness
- Feeling hopeless
- Chronic pain
- Aggravation or irritability
- Extreme fatigue
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Suicidal thoughts
What Causes Depression
There are many different theories and there is no simple answer to this because depression can be triggered by many things. Some say it is a genetic factor because mood disorders like depression do seem to run in families. It can also be a major traumatic incident such as divorce, loss of a loved one, or abuse. Changes in brain chemicals can cause depression. Postpartum depression also affects a lot of women. It could also be caused by a chronic illness. If you have chronic pain or chronic fatigue, it would not be uncommon for depression to accompany both these things. Some people's lifestyles can contribute to depression. If you hate your job or are in an unhappy marriage it can lead to feelings of depression. People with low self-esteem are often also depressed. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders and in the US; NIMH reports that over 16 million Americans have depression or have had a depressive episode.
There is a lot of research available on the brain and depression, but for the scope of this article, the focus is that regardless of the reason or cause, there is something you can do about it. There is a large amount of research on the treatment of depression both with counseling and with medication. Many people with depression recovery with counseling only and some need both. Your doctor and counselor can help you decide what would most benefit you. It's important that you don't diagnose or try to treat yourself.
What You Can Do About It
If you are depressed, reach out to a licensed mental health professional for help. Getting the appropriate help is most important. The sooner you seek that help and begin treatment, the sooner you can begin feeling like yourself again. As mentioned above, depression is extremely common and most counselors are trained to help people with depression. However, some specialize in it and some do not and it is important that you find the right counselor. BetterHelp has a large number of counselors who are trained in working with depression and you will be able to select a counselor you feel comfortable with. The great thing about BetterHelp is that you don't even have to leave your home if you do not want to. Sometimes with depression just leaving the house and making your way to see a counselor can be very intimidating and overwhelming so online counseling can really be a good fit for a lot of clients with depression.
What Will My Therapist Do to Help?
There are many techniques that your therapist will use. He or she will do a brief assessment and ask you questions to help you pinpoint if there is a cause for the depression. Your therapist will offer feedback, suggestions, and support to help you cope with depression. Your therapist will teach you coping skills. There are a number of therapies that are helpful with depression, such as cognitive behavioral therapy which works by targeting the irrational thoughts that can make us feel depressed and learning how to confront those thoughts with rational, realistic thoughts. Your therapist can help you work on your self-esteem and help you learn to be more assertive and less fearful of trying new things. Your therapist is also a person who will listen to you in a safe, nonjudgmental way. You can say things to your therapist that you might not feel comfortable saying to anyone else. This can be enormously helpful when dealing with trauma. Another thing your therapist can do is help you create a plan and break it down into small, achievable pieces and gently hold you accountable.
Feel sorry for yourself, feeling sad, and feeling depressed are common feelings. It is not realistic to think that we should always be happy and content. In fact, that would be unhealthy. All feelings, even hard ones like sadness and depression, have a purpose. You can even have a "pity party" for yourself and let yourself feel the feelings- just set a timer and after 15 minutes, make a point to switch to a different task. If you find that you are having more moments of pity and self-doubt that you feel is healthy, don't get discouraged. You don't have to be stuck with them. There are many things you can do for yourself, especially if you chose to enlist the help of a trained professional, to feel better. You don't have to feel depressed forever. The first step is to reach out. BetterHelp has thousands of therapists who are ready to help you get back to being your best self and feeling good.