“When you’re in a slump, You’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.” Dr. Seuss

How does depression begin?

It can start off with just a low mood and saying no to social engagements or doing less. You may not feel like participating in hobbies you used to enjoy. Maybe you let household chores pile up or can’t be bothered doing exercise. You feel like you have no energy and are more tired than usual, so you spend more time in bed.

You then beat yourself up for what you feel you should be doing, criticize yourself, feel overwhelmed at things piling up and lose confidence in your ability to do the things you used to do.

One of my clients recently expressed it like this… “When I’m in a slump I just want to be left alone to wallow in my own feelings. But that’s what breeds the guilt. If I haven’t exercised for a couple of days, I feel guilty. If the house is a mess, I feel guilty.”

This in turn makes you feel worse. So you have even less energy.

And a downward spiral begins.

What started off as low mood can very quickly spiral down into depression, and at worse can continue in this downward spiral until you end up chronically depressed.

It feels really hopeless. But there is good news. This negative spiral can be broken.

How do you break the spiral of depression?

When someone says to a person who is feeling depressed, “you should just get out and take a walk and you’ll feel better” or “just snap out of it”, this actually has the effect of making the person feel worse! They can start saying things like, “I know I should do this, but why can’t I? I’m so hopeless.” They beat themselves up more for it, feeling guiltier and more hopeless.

It’s such a vicious circle. But you can break yourself out of it.

There’s only one point at which you can change this negative spiral. You can’t change the depression straight away. You can’t change your energy levels, your bad feelings or motivation straight away. Nor can you just ‘snap out of it’ as many well meaning friends and family would suggest you do.

You can only break the spiral by making changes to your behaviours.

You may have got out of the habit of doing the simplest things. It’s going to take you a while to get back to doing those things, and that’s okay. Take baby steps. For example, if a person hasn’t been getting out of the house at all, it’s perfectly normal to expect that going out for a walk feels too hard. A good first step could be to start by walking from the front door to the end of the driveway and back. With each step you take, you’re moving upwards through the spiral back to feeling good.

This isn’t the same as saying just snap out of it, get out and meet people or take a walk. Sometimes, when you are depressed and it’s more than just a slump, your energy is so low that almost everything feels too much. You need to work with an experienced life coach or counsellor who can guide you through some simple changes you can make, that are within your capability, so you can begin the process of ‘un-slumping’ yourself.