If you have lived with depression for a while, you may find that depression feels comfortable. While you cannot become addicted to depression, there are a few reasons why you may feel content with the status quo.
Remember, though, that you can overcome depression and experience a new normal that is richer, fuller, and closer to your true self with the right support.
Depression is a mental illness characterized by periods of low mood that last for weeks or months and impact your everyday life. There are several different types of depression, such as:
Depressed people may experience depression very differently from one another, and symptoms vary between each individual. However, some possible symptoms of depression include:
People struggling with severe depression may also experience urges to self-harm, suicidal thoughts, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts.
If you or someone you know may be struggling with depression, remember that you are not alone. Help and support are available to improve depressive symptoms and help individuals live rich and fulfilling lives.
The short answer is no. You cannot become addicted to depression.
Addiction is a psychological and behavioral state where you compulsively seek a substance or engage in a certain behavior, despite any negative consequences. It is characterized by physical changes to your brain's reward system, an area of the brain that regulates the reinforcement of life-preserving functions.
Certain substances and behaviors can hijack this reward system, producing strong urges to repeat unhealthy behaviors that can be very difficult to resist. Addiction usually involves intensely pleasurable activities that release large amounts of dopamine, a feel-good chemical that makes you want to repeat the activity.
On the other hand, depression is not a pleasurable state and does not affect our reward system in the way substances and certain behaviors can. Depression comes with no 'reward' that could drive addictive behavior.
If you have lived with depression for some time, whether as a single period or a cycle of chronic depression, depression may feel like your comfort zone. You may feel like being depressed is part of your identity, that it offers an explanation for your experience of the world, or that recovery would involve reinventing a new you.
These feelings are normal and, to an extent, true. A depressive disorder does shape how you experience the world. Likewise, recovery does require introspection and personal growth.
But it's important to recognize that while the journey may not be easy, it is an incredible one that opens the door to a more prosperous and fuller world. Reinventing yourself doesn't mean changing your identity - it means finding your inner self, a self that can find happiness in the world and perform to its full potential.
Sometimes it can be tempting to just 'keep going' with the status quo, especially if previous treatments haven't worked. You may feel that you are fine, can handle it, and it's not worth the effort.
However, there are many different evidence-based treatment options out there, and it's worth giving them a try. Mental health recovery centers and mental health professionals may advise you on what could work best for you and offer individualized treatment plans.
From medication to psychotherapy to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy to mindfulness, there is support available. You deserve to feel better.
There is no single cause of depression. Instead, there may be several different triggers and risk factors involved. These include:
A 2015 article in the Association for Psychological Science explores the observation that people who feel depressed are more likely to engage in melancholy activities that prompt sad emotions. Several studies have found those living with depression are more likely to engage with stimuli that cause moderate to intense sadness.
The article suggests that this phenomenon may be rooted in our emotional regulation. Emotional regulation is the process of changing negative emotions into more desirable ones. People living with depression, however, may be choosing the wrong goal for their emotions. They may choose to regulate them in a direction that reinforces their negative mood.
Scientists do not have a clear explanation for the phenomena. One suggestion is that we may choose to experience emotions that we feel verify ourselves. If someone views themselves as depressed, particularly if they have low self-esteem, they may think that experiencing sadness reaffirms who they are. That said, depressed people still reported that they preferred happiness to sadness, suggesting a will to overcome their condition.
There may have been times that you've listened to melancholy music or read sad poetry when you've felt down. In doing so, you may have expected to feel better. Many times you do - but why is that?
A recent study by Durham University found that sad music can be enjoyable because it triggers positive memories that can improve your mood. People reported that sad music produced responses of pleasure, comfort, and pain. Often, these reactions result from happy or sad memories triggered by the music.
There are alternative explanations of the neurological and sociological processes that underpin this phenomenon. One suggestion is that we like to listen to music that mirrors and verifies our life experiences.
A second hypothesis posits that melancholy music is linked to the chemical prolactin, a hormone that helps overcome grief. The body may begin to prepare itself to adapt to a perceived traumatic event. Even when this doesn't occur, it's left with a mix of hormones and chemicals that help you feel better.
We know listening to music in general releases dopamine, a hormone associated with motivation and reward. It may be the experience of listening to music in general - not its melancholy nature - that helps improve our sad mood.
If you are suffering from depression, remember that you don't have to feel like this. With the right support, you can overcome depression and live a rich and fulfilling life.
At GIA Miami, we understand that the reason for your depression is unique. We design bespoke programs based on your individual needs to offer you the best chance of reaching your mental wellness goals.
Our world-leading programs are based on the most up-to-date science and evidence-based therapies, delivered with compassion and respect. Our team comprises world leaders in TMS therapy, an innovative therapy for treatment-resistant depression that has turned many clients' lives around.
At GIA Miami, we're here to help you reach your best self. Contact us today for a consultation session.
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