I’ve been dealing with bouts of depression since my early teenage years. There have been period of my life where even getting out of bed felt like an impossible task. Things were much worse during my two decades of heavy drinking, but I continue to have periods of depression seven years after giving up alcohol. I’m getting better at managing my symptoms, but it can still feel like there is a blackness out there waiting to swallow me up. In recent years, I’ve noticed that these periods of depression will nearly always occur at times when I’m worrying about something – usually my finances.
How Worry Leads to Depression
There is a recognized link between worry and depression. What is believed to happen is that worry makes us less able to tackle our problems. This negative emotion uses up too much of our mental resources, and it gets in the way of taking constructive action to deal with the threat. This obsessive thinking about the obstacles in our life also means we are unable to sleep at night. This triple whammy of tiredness, inability to act, and anxiety means that we end up feeling completely helpless and overwhelmed – from there it is almost inevitable that we will slide into depression.
This slide from worry to depression can happen very fast for me. I do sometimes wonder if worry is a symptom of an impending depression rather than the other way round. I say this because on many occasions there has been no obvious trigger for the worry – nothing has really changed, but I’m suddenly fretting over some aspect of my life. Perhaps the fact that my mood is already starting to deteriorate makes me more susceptible to worry – I’m not sure. Of course, there are also times when there are legitimate things to worry about, and at these times it can be a struggle to remain free of the black cloud.
How I Juggle Worry and Depression
I’m not sure about the exact relationship between worry and depression, but I do know that they are closely related for me at least. If I allow the two of these to feed into each other, I can end up in real trouble. I can become worried about being depressed, and this drives me further into feelings of despair. In a recent post, How Letting Go Could Save Your Life, I discussed my strategy for dealing with worry. When it comes to depression, my strategy is not to resist it. I just accept that this is how I’m feeling at the moment, and I just do what I can. This approach means that I don’t make things any worse than they already are, and I’m usually able to function reasonably well despite my low mood.
I would love to be able to say that I’ve managed to overcome depression in the same way that I managed to overcome my alcohol addiction. There have been some definite improvements and the symptoms are now bearable, but there is still plenty of work for me to do in this area of my life. I’m not sure if it will ever be possible to completely remove the black cloud from, but I’m convinced that it will be possible for me to become so good at managing it that it will no longer be an issue.