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Redefining Success with Depression

Depression often has us feeling down on ourselves. We feel worthless and fatigued. These feelings can take away our ability to be as productive as we normally are or think we should be. A person who is usually busy and energetic can be completely sapped by depression. Those of us who suffer from depression often find ourselves sleeping or staying in bed considerably longer than we normally would and unable to perform even the simplest of tasks. It’s during times like these that we need to reframe what we consider productive and successful. We need to show ourselves a little more compassion and accept where we are and what we can do in the moment.

During my latest period of severe depression, I have been so down and fatigued that I have found myself unable to complete the simplest tasks like showering every day or doing a load of laundry. These mundane tasks seem daunting. I have spent most of my time in front of the television wishing I had the energy and desire to do anything else.

It’s times like these when I have to redefine what it means to be productive or successful. It’s important to be kind to yourself. Depression is hard to live with. On top of anything else we have going on with our lives we have to deal with symptoms like depressed mood, loss of interest, sleeping problems, eating problems, fatigue and even thoughts or actions of suicide.

So if I’m having a hard time socializing or getting all of my chores done, I try to be okay with it. If I do manage to live like my normal self for a day, I praise myself for it. That’s because I have to shift what it means to be productive or successful depending on my circumstances.

During depression I consider showering a success. I consider eating right a success. I consider exercising a great accomplishment. When I’m not depressed, I consider these to be just part of my normal routine.

It’s important to recognize successes as successes after you’ve redefined them. I often give myself a hard time about considering usual activities to be successes. I tell myself that other people do it everyday without even thinking about it. I have to continuously remind myself that I am not like other people and it is not part of my everyday when I have depression.

All that said, it is still important to push ourselves to do what we may think we cannot do. A lot seems insurmountable when depressed, but not all of it is. There has to be a balance between self-care and pushing ourselves. It’s helpful to get a therapist’s advice on how to do this because each case will be different.


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Image credit: Oliver Tacke

Redefining Success with Depression

LaRae LaBouff

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APA Reference
LaBouff, L. (2018). Redefining Success with Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 2 Jan 2018
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