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12-Steps to Creating Motivation When Depressed

Creating motivation when feeling depressed can be one of the most difficult things a person can do. An episode of depression can be physically and emotionally draining. The simplest of tasks seem to take maximum effort, and sometimes even beyond maximum. Some may feel lethargic. It may be tough make meals, or clean up at home, or take showers, or even get out of bed.

Navigating motivation when depressed can be tough because the instinct is to wait for the energy to return. People who are depressed often fall into the trap of trying to wait it out — that if you give in to the urge to stay in bed for a few days, that you’ll be re-energized and recharged, believing you’ll have exorcised the depression demons by just “going with it”.

Unfortunately, it’s not usually as simple as this. If everybody tried to wait out their depressive episodes, some people would be in bed for 20 years, realizing somewhere along the way that depression actually tends to breed depression if it’s not actively confronted. That’s right, catering to our depressive urges actually reinforces them.

68 thoughts on “12-Steps to Creating Motivation When Depressed

  • January 29, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    This is a great article. I’ve read a lot of what to do to get motivated. I like how specific this article is. I actually saved it to carry with me.

  • January 30, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Good article. I’ll save it as well. I know that a little exercise can go a long way in making me feel better, but it’s so hard to start even if it’s just a little bit. I dearly wish that it wasn’t winter so I could go for walks, but my new indoor bike will have to do for now.
    I very much need to start therapy, but I’ve been too afraid to ask my primary care doctor for insight into that. I trust her, but I don’t know how to bring up the subject and the thought of starting therapy scares me badly.

    • January 31, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      Sounds like you’ve already made the first step. Depending on your insurance you may not even have to talk to your primary doctor. Call your insurance company, they may refer you to a website of people in their network or they may have you call a totally separate number that handles Behavioral Health. Start there, call provider to make sure they’re still participating & call the Behavioral Health folks back for authorization to be recorded.If first counsellor isn’t right try another.

  • January 30, 2013 at 10:48 am

    This article sounds like all the cliches about depression. Get up, get dressed, go out and do things, see people. I truly wish this would work for more people. Depression would be cured. (BTW there are also a lot of typos and grammar faux pas. Where’s the proofreader?)

    • January 30, 2013 at 11:25 am

      I appreciate your honesty. For clarification, the main purpose of this article is about motivation and breaking a cycle of depression, not about “curing” depression. I tried to be clear on that, but I may not have done a good job there — the underlying causes of depression must still be explored and understood with further work (e.g. psychotherapy).

      Thank you for reading and for your comment, even if the article didn’t resonate with you.


    • January 30, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      I agree! Wish it was that easy. If I try to force myself to do stuff, it just makes me feel worse. I end up dropping things, breaking things, hurting people and I just end up feeling worse about myself. I have to be really easy on myself and wait until I feel better before taking any action.

      Sounds good, but you cannot force yourself out of depression. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a problem!
      I found the article inaccurate and insulting

      • January 31, 2013 at 2:38 am

        Know what you mean. Read this and thought “oh boy! this author has never had deep depression! when you are at the bottom, you cannot do a thing.Its like being in a mental quintaplegia, because the mind is paralysed as well as the body.

        These steps may be useful before one gets to that stage or if one has managed to start surfacing but at the bottom..? No Way!!!

      • March 11, 2015 at 5:52 pm

        Agreed, is pretty much a list of things that make it worse for me. It all has to wait til the cloud passes for me.

    • January 31, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      There are some people that have to find something wrong with everything. So maybe the errors are there purposely to make those poeple happy.

  • January 30, 2013 at 11:58 am

    This article has been a timely reminder for me, so thanks for writing it – I have had increasing difficulty finding any motivation or volition, or hope in life. I know that if I stick to a routine & engage in my triathlon activities, say, then I can break the negative cycle (no pun intended…) and find some aspects of life more manageable: this usually then has a positive ripple-effect on other areas of my life. I agree too with the need for participation in something like psychotherapy to be alongside such interventions…
    Yes, there were errors, but these were clearly typos and not at all grammatical faux pas…I didn’t find that they distracted my attention, at any rate!

    • January 30, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      I think the article will be helpful, but am not sure about maintaining it for long if I don’t feel some results in a reasonable amount of time.

      • January 30, 2013 at 4:38 pm

        I meant to wish you luck and I hope you post updates.

  • January 30, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Has the author experienced depression?

    Suggesting “Go spend time with family” is easily a trigger to climb under the covers in a ball when a messed up family history, abuse, or loss is part of the reason for the depression.

    • January 30, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      Thank you for your comment. It isn’t likely that all 12 steps will resonate with every person. If you find that a suggestion in this article already has its own negative history in your life, it wouldn’t be one for you to try. The hope is that you’ll find some suggestions, or even one, that have the potential to create motivation for you (this article isn’t meant to be a “cure” for depression).

      Thank you for reading and for bringing your thoughts, even if you disagreed with content of the article.


      • February 2, 2013 at 10:36 pm

        I know the hopelessness of deep, deep depression. At that point, these suggestions may not be as helpful, but I promise you that if you manage to do one or two of them, you will feel better (at least for a little while.) Luckily, I’m on the uphill slope from the pit of depression, and I think the tips here are helpful for me to prevent recurrence. Thank you.

  • January 30, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    I’m sure the author is well-intentioned, but in general I find this kind of advice to be unhelpful. I don’t want to speak for everyone, but in my case depression causes me to feel insignificant. When I’ve tried to motivate myself with steps like these during depressive episodes, I invariably ask myself, “Why bother?” I feel like no one will miss me if I don’t get out of bed, no one (including myself) cares if I don’t make my bed, and if I don’t leave the house, no one will care whether I’ve showered.

    I’ve been able to pull myself out of these episodes only with the help of someone else. If I feel like I’m disappointing or disgusting someone by dressing like a slob or living in squalor, I’ll do something about it. Ultimately, I end up correcting those things for my own sake, not someone else’s. But it’s very, very hard to get to that point on your own. Psychotherapy can help, but since your therapist isn’t there to pull you out of bed, it’s easy to slide back into depression.

    It’s hard to ask people for help, I know. But at least for me, it turned out to be my best hope.

  • January 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Okay, I will take some of these steps but I am a 17 year old female. I am still living with my parents and my 9 brothers and sisters. My parents do very little. They either sit in their room and watch TV of they sleep all day. Sometimes they leave for hours at a time. Leaving me with all of the kids at all times. I am homeschooled as well. I can’t join any extra curricular activities because nobody else can handle the kids. The ages of all of us are 17,16,10,9,3,2,1 and 1(Twins) and a month old little girl. That isn’t even all of us. My parents have a total of twelve kids. The other three were taken from us and placed with other family. We can’t leave this house. We are also constantly showered with insults. We are often called stupid, worthless, wh*re, etc. I am depressed because it is hard as a child myself to carry on this great responsibility. My brother, the 16 year old, has to take medication to keep him calm or he will go around threatening people. The kids even sleep in our rooms. I have the twins and my other sister and my brother has the other kids. We don’t get breaks. I wake up everyday to a crying baby and i don’t get much sleep. I wake up everyday wishing that i would die because i am tired of the constant crap. I can barely ever even do my homework. I am 17 and still in 9th grade. When i turn 18 i have planned on leaving but i cant live on my own and get a job and still go to high school. so that forces me to stay here until i finish high school. We don’t even go to church. we don’t go anywhere. We are lucky to even get to go outside to play. When i do talk to people about what happens here they tell me to stay strong. They tell me that i have a bunch of little eyes looking up to me and that is what keeps me going. That i guess is what is keeping me alive. But i have also thought that if i leave, who will take care of these kids? Being here has made me think twice about wanting kids. These kids are so undisciplined. My cousin told me that since i take care of them, that these are my babies. I don’t even have kids of my own and yet i feel like i do. This is my life. I wake up everyday to work and work and more work and on top of that i get insulted, criticized and yelled at. I feel alone. I am depressed and i used to be happy and cheery. I would make people who were depressed, laugh and i would listen to their stories and give my advice. Now, i am the one who is depressed and i dont have any friends anymore that i can talk to. So if you have any advice, do share.

    • January 30, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      Mrs. Lonely, it sounds like you’re in a really difficult place personally and a very challenging situation in general. It sounds like you’re very isolated and shouldered with a huge amount of responsibility that isn’t really yours to take on.

      There is a spot on this site where you can ask a therapist for advice – that seems like it might be a good idea. Also, if you have access to a responsible adult outside of your family (a doctor?, a minister?, a former teacher if you ever attended school? a friend’s parent?). At the very least it sounds like you could use someone to talk to and, they may be able to help determine if you or your family need other assistance or intervention.

    • January 30, 2013 at 7:03 pm

      You are an incredibly brave, mature young woman. Your parents are at fault. THEY crated this. They had too many kids, and failed to raise them properly. Call social services. Tell them your parents are neglecting their kids. Ask for help. YOU need your own life. It isn’t YOUR job to raise your parents kids, it’s THEIR job. Social services will do a home study. They will make your parents take parenting classes. They can even remove some of your siblings to foster care to ease the burden. Do your parents work or are they on social security, medicaid, etc?? They have no excuse for being lazy slobs. I am a mother of 4. My hubby and I assume all the responsibilities for our kids. We had sex, had babies, now it’s our job to raise them. I expect the same from your folks. I wish I could talk to them, I’d tell them off!! Someone needs to set them straight.

      • January 31, 2013 at 2:51 am

        Cathy has good advice, Do it now before your depression gets worse because you and the other children deserve protection and care and you will not be able to give them any care if you get more deeply depressed. You are a good kid, you make me very proud.

    • February 4, 2013 at 11:07 pm

      You touched my heart with your bravery. Please call social services. They will make an evaluation to help you and your family. I hope you will be able to go to high school and make friends. I will pray for you.

    • October 18, 2017 at 11:08 pm

      I know that this is a few years old, but my heart ached for you. Added more pain to my selfish ways compared to you, because I don’t have those responsibilities sadly you did not have a choice. You are a young woman now, whom I hope is taking of your own needs. Learn to love yourself as you wish your soul mate will love you. Love of self is the gateway to a fulfilled life.

  • January 30, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    I was looking for info on introverts and instead saw this one. This is exactly what I needed to see and read. I am trying to get up, cook, get to the gym which I haven’t been able to do in ages. I am desperate for something that will help. I feel grateful to the writer and will start putting some of these in action. If I absolutely have to be somewhere then I am there, but when I don’t I don’t shower, get dressed and so on. Is there some type of blog that I could join and hopefully find support?
    Thanks for your article.

    • January 30, 2013 at 6:27 pm

      Mellie, I could use a blog, too. Sometimes talking it out with others helps so much.

    • February 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      If you have a facebook account put depression into the search box then find some support groups on there. I found one called ,”Struggling With LIfe” and I enjoy going there and sharing my struggles as well as what works for me. I hope this helps.

      • February 9, 2013 at 1:12 am


  • January 30, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    This is a great article!! I don’t feel punished and brow beaten by this advice. Thank you who ever wrote this, it is truly inspiring me. I have battled depression for 53 years, and I know what a lack of motivation is like. It has robbed me of so much, but I know what to do now.

  • January 30, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    I appreciate the suggestions in this article. In being as basic as they are, they acknowledge how difficult these things are when a depressive episode is in full swing. They remind me of the pep talk I give myself when in the thick of it: “Make some tea, put some lipstick on, and put on something pretty.” That way, even if I spend the rest of the day in front of Facebook, I look like a lady while doing it. Sometimes just knowing that I’m trying something makes me feel better.

    I remember being offended at the idea that I should assume some responsibility for my own care. At that point, I would have felt belittled by this article. But after a half dozen psych hospitalizations for depression and suicide attempts, I realized that I was the only one responsible for my health. None of these suggestions are going to cure anyone. What they will do is help to manage the illness. And in depression as in diabetes, management and self-care make all the difference.

  • January 30, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    I have managed within the past 2 years to get to step 5. Reading steps 6 through 12 can just about cause me to have panic attack. As I read steps 6 – 12, I already felt defeated.

    • January 31, 2013 at 8:04 am

      I can relate. I have had decades of just the same thing. If only there was some magic solution to feeling sad, empty and unmotivated.

  • January 31, 2013 at 2:12 am

    opposite action works. i got myself into the parking lot at work one day and was just sitting there crying, i was about to drive home and give up, but i was asking myself if there was any reason at all to go to work. and i remembered this one guy who just got a divorce a couple days before, and he was showing up every day and working like normal. after working so hard, i didn’t want him to find out he has a weak coworker.

    • February 4, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      That’s fabulous! I’ve been there and know it’s so hard to stay at work or even go to work in the first place when you don’t want to be there.

  • January 31, 2013 at 6:48 am

    This article is so timely. I am nearly 74 and have a long and complicated life story which continues to unfold. I thank the author whose name I’ve already forgotten. I’m printing out the suggestions. The reference to a DBT technique and DBT’s following on the coat tails of CBT was helpful. What I like the best is how the author included everything he could think of so we readers can choose what fits and leave the rest. I’m sick and tired of feeling sick and tired and this article will be close at hand as I move (literally and figuratively) out of my years’ long stuckness.

  • January 31, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Hi, This was very helpful, but I think, written by somebody who has ‘book knowledge’ of Depression. I totally agree with the ‘going against what we feel’ as in Act your way into a feeling rather than waiting to feel your way into an action. The best example is that huge leap to get out of bed, to wash [which for me is like climbing a mountain] in the throes of Depression sleep is very bad so its not that easy to get out of bed when youre bleary eyed. Many people with severe depression dont have a family, or if they do, its a very dysfunctional one and they have had to cut off. Also, by nature of the symptoms of Depression [ongoing] alot of people with Depression are unemployed, have little money and hence very few friends. Again, its good but alot of the symptoms of Depression [for me acute anxiety] would prevent me from being able to go outside. Thanks Rosie

  • January 31, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    I am happy for the people who find this article’s advice helpful. I am equally relieved to read responses from others that seem like me: we’ve heard it, we do these things, but depression persists through YEARS.

    I peruse this site often hoping that an article will dig deeper and offer me something that I haven’t heard of or practiced. … Still hoping something might come along. This disease is killing me. Slowly, slowly, slowly sucking the life from me despite my best efforts and intentions.

  • February 1, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    This was an inspirational article and a nice little reminder. It’s true that, when in the throes of a deep depression, these things don’t seem realistic, but when you’re not quite to the lowest point it IS really helpful to just start doing something. Sometimes it can prevent the depression from getting worse.

    Thanks for the article.

  • February 1, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    I know that the things written in this article will definitely help with depression. However, I also understand how difficult it is to do them at some stages of depression. I am currently at the point where showering daily is difficult. I get very anxious and claustrophobic feeling about being in the tight, steamy shower area. I know I need to do these things but it is so overwhelming and draining that I end up in tears trying to do it. I have been battling depression with anxiety in varying degrees for my whole life. I think the secret may be in very small steps such as with the getting out of bed step, perhaps my first action would be to look at what time I usually get up and say if it was 11am then I would set a goal of getting up each day by 11 am. Then moving it to 10:30, 10:00, etc. while also making sure I was going to bed at an appropriate time. I could also start with just brushing my teeth and washing up if I couldn’t handle the shower.
    I think we need to break it into the tiniest steps we can manage and keep working towards our goals that way. It may take a long time but if we do nothing we will get nowhere except maybe worse.
    Best wishes to you all.

    • February 6, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Your response was quite insightful. I had never thought about breaking it down like that. I struggle with making my self shower and dress. It seems like so much work! (I know it really isn’t.) If I break the steps down and work the steps, I’ll probably become more consistent. Thanks!

    • February 10, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      I think that works sometimes, but it can also backfire. I remember a day where I tried to break it up- after hours of being upset in my bed, I finally convinced myself to sit up in my bed, then eventually worked up enough courage to pull the covers off. Then I immediately threw them back over myself and curled up crying again. When i told my therapist about it later, she basically said that I by breaking it down like that, I was giving myself so many new steps where I could (and did) just give up. Instead she suggested setting my alarm to give me enough time to get ready (rather than with my usual extra 30 minutes or more to lay in bed) and work with that. So the alarm would go off, I’d have to get up right away and leave the room to grab breakfast/brush my teeth, whatever it took. Sort of ripping the bandaid off, so to speak. And that if I did stay in bed longer or delay getting up and ready, to work with that and keep moving along. That I WAS going to class or work no matter what, even if for just the last 5 minutes of class, so I’d might as well get ready sooner and not be so embarrassed walking in that late. Getting out of the house, however hard it seemed, just had to be part of the routine and non-negotiable. Sure, I could always go back home and curl up in bed again (sometimes I did), but I was much less likely to do so if I was already out and about. Or, when I did go back, at least I went to one class or had a couple hours at work. So, the small steps helped at one point in my journey,but I just wanted to offer an alternative way to get through things.

  • February 2, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Yes, depression is so interesting. You can lie in bed, inert, paralyzed, but somehow a gear changes in one’s head and you’re up and doing things and you immediately know that being productive is armor against the depression monster. When I’m feeling depressed, the slightest action that goes “against the depression”, like washing a bunch of dirty dishes or organizing my work space and, little by little, through mindful awareness of my thoughts and feelings, I can have a new experience of life that isn’t “depression” It’s doing stuff even when you don’t feel like it and bam/ Your depression’s gone.
    Good article

    Dorothy Hayden LCSW

    • May 30, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      Thank you for your article, I can relate. I have had a complicated life with lots of tragic events. Always, I depended on myself & eventually got better. I have found with each event: deaths, illness, divorce, moving,etc. it becomes more difficult to get my life back on track.

      Right now, I was divorced recently, moved several times am having trouble getting my house picked up and clean. Lists, which used to help me are a waste of time. My self esteem is shot. Where did my motivation go?

  • February 4, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I think some readers are being a bit critical of the article; I think these are great suggestions. I have dysthymia and anxiety, and have dealt with severe depression and an eating disorder in the past, but to get out of the funk, it takes doing what’s hard especially when you don’t want to.

    I rolled my eyes at the very first thing on the list: opposite action. Not because it’s dumb, but because it felt like I was reading something from my former therapist. I have had those days when I just wanted to stay in bed all day and had to fight with myself to even sit up and take the covers off (before crawling right back under the covers). I remember my therapist telling me that it IS hard, it is extremely hard, but it is my choice to make. Staying in bed solves nothing. In fact, it usually made things worse for me by missing class and work and then having to deal with the ramifications of that. I could feel like crap and lay in bed all day feeling sorry for myself (and sometimes I did/do) or I could feel like crap but go do things anyway. Even going downstairs and having an interaction with my roommate is better than being alone in my room yet again.

    Yes, these suggestions are easier said than done, but to make changes, we’ve got to try. Yeah, the depression is still there, but it’s sure as h*** not gonna get better in your room. Even a brief respite out in the world is helpful; if nothing else, you’ve gone to work and earned some money or gone to class and heard some piece of information or saw a friend or even just took a shower- something. I totally get how hard it is, because I’ve been dealing with this depression and anxiety crap for years, but I’m not gonna give up. Plus it’s such a cycle, if I don’t get out of the house 5 days in a row, what’ll convince me to get out on the 6th day? Breaking the cycle is SO incredibly important, even if just a a little while.

    So, I’m depressed right now, hate where I am after moving across the country, but I am working on all the classwork I want to keep putting off, even if just a little at a time. I didn’t come here to fail.

    Summary: it’s freakin’ hard and we’ve got to do it anyway.

  • February 5, 2013 at 2:09 am

    Well, it’s a good list, but I think it’s all pretty obvious. Okay, I’ve been there, I’ve been in a place where getting out of bed and into the shower and going through the day has been difficult. I guess I’m feel that I do the stuff on this list (and the stuff I don’t do I don’t need) but I still need ways to feel less down, and this list is too basic. Alas.

  • February 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Hi, very interesting article. Thank you for writing it. I have a question tho. My depression is hitting a new low that I cannot seem to climb out of. I am under the care of a Dr. and have been for years. I have chronic, debilitating pain. With my health issues I did fine until a car wreck that caused damage and now that increased and changed the chronic pain I had before. I am stuck and sick of talking about it. What do you do when it is the levels of pain and lack of restorative sleep and notch up the depression and prevent you from scheduling the “just get up and do it attitude” that I know from the past does work. I know walk with a cane due to back and him damage. I feel so trapped and I feel like I babble alot and am an annoyance because of it. Thank you for listening.

    • April 1, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      Look, you sound like you have been through a lot. One thing that wouldn’t ameliorate the physical pain, but would show that you take your concerns as worthy of attention is to switch your pseudonym. you aren’t babbling, you are not ditzy. It’s ok to laugh at ourselves – but we have to do it with care for the message that we give ourselves.

  • February 11, 2013 at 3:21 am

    Interesting read, –however– the title of the article could have been “12 steps to creating motivation when unemployed”.

    Things like getting dressed, showering and brushing your teeth in the morning can become quite dreadful when you are only getting ready for a job you don’t feel any motivation for.

    Also in this light, “The more you can remove yourself from the environment of depression the better chance of overcoming it” seems easy to say.

    The article raises some interesting points though, but that only apply during the weekendm as far as I am concerned.

  • February 24, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Thank you for the article and for all the comments. I tend to ‘wait it out’ I give in to the lethargy and just lie in bed waiting to feel better. Doing the opposite resonates with me. It takes a huge amount of energy to actually get going – I compare it to pushing a truck loaded with bricks, with all the tyres flat! However I know once I get that truck rolling it can go on under its own impetus, and knowing that I’ve done something, however small does make me feel a lot better. So I’ll get up and tackle the basket of laundry that’s waiting to be put away right now! Thanks again.

  • April 13, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    The article has sensible suggestions for keeping yourself going in the midst of mild depression. For severe depression, the landscape’s quite a bit rougher. I think with severe depression, you need to sort of treat it like recovering from a bad case of the flu. You work with your doctor, do what you can manage to accomplish in your present condition, and don’t beat yourself up for what you can’t yet do.

    In very bad depression, I at least took lots of showers. The warm shower was sort of like a refuge form which I didn’t want to emerge (until I used up the hot water).

    In mild depression, I coped with things differently and had some strategies to get things done. Maybe we need different approaches to cope with different degrees of depression.

  • July 15, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    This article is both informative, and utterly useless. For me, anyway. I’m depressed (dangerously so), mostly because a sudden illness resulting in an inability to walk, generalized weakness, pain, and fatigue, is destroying my life. My relationship with my spouse is being strained, and my situation as well as my depression is making him unhappy as well. Most of these suggestions depend on the person taking them being able to walk. And exercise, and do a number of other things that I can’t. I can’t describe how frustrating it is to find that the only advice and help available to me cannot apply to me.

  • January 5, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Thanks so much for this. I’ve sometimes felt crazy scheduling basic care and it’s so affirming to see I’m not alone or crazy in doing this.

  • February 18, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    This is good, basic information. But, actually, I’ve done most all of the items listed. I go to work every day, interact with people, make lists upon lists, but struggle terribly with brain fog – the inability to do anything of substance that is cognitively demanding. Is that a topic for another article? I guess you are talking about motivation and I am hoping for information on concentration. Suggestions?

  • March 11, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Maybe a good list for mild sadness but not true depression. Not helpful to me at all.

  • March 31, 2015 at 8:47 am

    So – what if you can’t even think of anything you might enjoy – or ever enjoyed, for that matter? What if you have no one at all to do anything with? What if you are plagued by chronic illness/pain (which also creates and adds to the depression you already have?) You simply feel too sick to do anything??

  • April 6, 2015 at 4:32 am

    Very original information

  • April 22, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    I like the advice. But here’s my issue. I have to work. I have to force myself out of bed and get the kids ready for school. That causes more fatigue because it’s an up hill battle. My job starts in the early afternoon until the early evening. To some, I have the coolest dream job. But I can’t skimper any joy from it. I come home from dropping the kids off at school and I’m exhausted. That leaves me more depressed. I battle with both anxiety and depression. They both wear me out. I get the luxury of doing some work at home but it’s causing me a great deal of anxiety. So trying to stay awake when returing from dropping off the kidsis a chore. I’d rather sleep. I can do the things above but my mind can’t slow down because I want it over with ( hurry through the walk, hurry at work, cut back on things so I can leave to go home and do minimal so I can sleep.) The anxiety takes over. I become exhausted, my poor kids. I’m overwhelmed and no medicine out there works. Tried them all and im tired of the nauseated feeling, the disconnection. Ive waited, and upped the dose, lowered the dose… nothing works! I’ve learned to become a great actress and act like Robin Williams did. I live the persona that life’s great, I’m bubbly etc. But I’m the opposite. I’m dying and overwhelmed and crying on the inside. I force myself and the more I force, the worse I become.

    • May 4, 2015 at 11:51 am


      If you don’t like what you are doing sooooo much then why don’t you do something different?

      You say that to some “I have the coolest dream job”. Are you staying in your job because to someone else “it is the coolest dream job”?

      What exactly is frustrating you about your job?

      Sometimes in the past I have thought of Einstein’s definition of “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

      It has helped occasionally in the past with identifying in my life if I have been doing as Einstein suggests and trying the same thing over and over again and expecting something to change.

      I have noticed sometimes I am doing exactly as Einstein has described.

      You’ll have to figure out if you are doing the same thing over and over again.

      You’ve said “nothing works”.

      By saying “Nothing works” are you at where you began? Are you lower or higher? Have you seen no improvement from anything?

      • May 5, 2015 at 2:23 pm


        No.. I’m pretty much stagnant with a whole lot of experience and knowledge in this area. LOL Being depressed doesn’t allow any me happiness to be felt. It almost feels normal. That’s scary. The things I enjoy most are now a no thrilling adventure and more like a chore. I don’t get the excitement. I have a job that is well, pretty easy in some standards because that is one of my passions! But in other words, I am numb. I’ve have changed my ways, I’ve done things differently, I’ve changed my life style to better myself. (not that my life style was bad) I’ve tried medication, I see a therapist. The meds? Been trying them for YEARS! So please don’t advise I have to stay on them to let them kick in.. My body doesn’t respond well. Vitamin D therapy, Exercising more. Staying connected with my friends. You name it, I do it. I’m now a great actress. I also suffer from a bit of PTSD. So on top of that I suffer from anxiety, adhd and depression. Oh lucky me! I read books, I do a lot of self help, I don’t think negative thoughts.

        I’m tired all the time. I just want to sleep. I do not have a sleep disorder. That was checked out. Bottom line is my brain is hard wired this way. I absolutely hate it!!!! I want to be free.

        I also have two kids. One of them will be turning 17 in at the end of this month. He has high functioning autism. My other child who just turned 13, also deals with a bout of depression. I’m trying to stay a float and help them but it is nearly impossible when I can’t get my own life together. So, guess where that leads me to? Yep! It’s a vicious cycle. I don’t make a lot of money so I have to work. I feel like I am neglecting my kids because I have to work. So right there is an issue. My hours are in the afternoons into the evenings and on one weekend. If I was in a job I hated, or something different or more difficult, I’d probably be suicidal. I’d never do it because I love my kids too much and they need me!

      • October 19, 2017 at 9:22 am

        I can so relate. I too have a dream job as a college professor. I’ve tried 15 different meds over ten years. Finally found my meds cocktail that works most of the time. I have bipolar and have been mania free for ten years now. Still have a lot of depression and anxiety but like you I push through Just don’t give up. I take large doses of vitamin D and B12 and iron too that makes a huge difference. Just don’t give up. There’s hope. I promise.

  • October 11, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    This article is the clicker response of any dbt/cbt instructor. Get up, half smile and deal with it. Which is probably what most people with depressions are doing every day and no one has any idea they are even struggling. Honestly, it’s articles like this that prevent people with depression from seeking the help they need because instead of being met with understanding they’re told to get up, make the bed, go outside and get a job? No, really Jane, you’ll feel better if you just do the opposite of what you’re feeling, which is sad and alone, and possible already ashamed for feeling those things. I wonder how many clinically depressed people are out there entertaining the world and no one will know until they’re gone… They’re too busy entertaining and using their opposite emotions, and all of the clinicians are too busy telling the people who go to them for help to be more like them.
    What a ad world we live in. But quite full of entertainers. Which is helpful for those who are told to get out of bed and stop being sad. And also for the sad who are too busy entertaining to stop and be sad,
    Full circle really….

    • October 11, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      Mrs. Darcy,

      Thank you for reading and for your comment. Admittedly, I haven’t read this article in a while, but if I recall correctly, I thought I clarified that these steps are NOT meant to be a cure for depression. The article is not meant to be THE therapy. When people present in my office with depression, I don’t start giving action-oriented steps — I get to know the person and the depression. I’m curious…would you have preferred an article that says that people should just stay in bed until their depression “goes away”, since it’s how they REALLY feel? These steps aren’t going to cure depression. They hopefully will help some people be able to put one foot in front of the other and try to create a bit of motivation to get through each day, while they’re hopefully getting actual professional treatment for the depression that goes beyond this article. But please don’t mistake this article as an attempt to be a treatment.

      Thanks again for reading, and I’m sorry that this didn’t resonate with you.


  • October 15, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    I try to set goals for myself, some days just getting out of bed can be one of them. Depression is the hardest thing I have ever faced.

  • October 16, 2015 at 2:31 am

    I saved your suggestions to the notebook I keep. After 30 years of suffering from depression, I understand that one cannot give into it. I’ve also learned that when my emotional energy is depleted, it’s necessary for me to “recharge”. Sometimes that means some quiet, sleep, relaxing and even a dose of isolation. But positive self talk during those times is important as well. And the small steps you’ve listed will be helpful during that “recharging” process along with my therapy. Thank you for sharing.

  • October 16, 2015 at 3:33 am

    These all are pretty lame and obvious suggestions. One probably wouldn’t be depressed in the first place if they ‘did the opposite.’ The problem with depression is that you don’t have the motivation to even force yourself. So how do you solve that? Maybe an individual with mild, situational depression would benefit and use their mind over matter skills- but someone with clinical depression isn’t capable when in the thick of it.

  • November 5, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    I’m no therapist but surely, by creating a connection with making your bed when you get up and leaving your troubles behind for the day you will start to develop a negative association with bed and sleeping all together?

    • November 6, 2015 at 9:58 am

      No, it doesn’t tend to work that way. You’re not using the bed in the process of creating negative. The goal isn’t to save the negative for when you get back in bed, it’s to shed the negative when you get up. Actually, staying in, or getting into bed as a method of coping when feeling depressed could create a negative association with bed and sleep. Bed and sleep become associated with depression. So breaking away from that is part of the goal.

  • July 16, 2017 at 9:00 am

    This is a fantastic learning tool. Thank you

  • September 30, 2017 at 2:35 am

    Dear Dr.
    My 18 yeared teen had been on anti depressants since Jan 2016.He seems to have improved.with a little nudging,I am able to get him to do different regular tasks like having a bath everyday, shopping,social stuff etc which he had trouble doing earlier. But as of the moment he is constantly in his bed, watching movies or shows. I have taken away his laptop.he is cool, the psychiatrist once told him ‘you are too intelligent for your own good’.he refuses to get out on his own. He refuses to get back into academics of any kind. He is peaceful no violence nothing. My heart cries out for him. Please, Dr., Somebody,Anybody,help.😢

  • November 20, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Thanks for you article, which I have printed and will keep somewhere I can see every day. I am really sorry for some of the comments you got in here.

    I would just like to add an idea, which I read recently. It seems that in depression certain regions of the brain (specifically the prefrontal lobe) are affected, and those are the regions involved in taking the decision to initiate action. However, the regions of the brain involved in performing an action are functioning relatively all right. So, by not listening to the message that comes from that prefrontal lobe, by-passing it, and taking the plunge to start an action, a lot of benefits can ensue.

    I will add that I have been fighting with depression for 25 years and that I still go through very dark phases where my life comes to an almost total disaster. However, being a scientist from my academic training, when I read that explanation I wrote above, something clicked and I started envisaging the possibility of a better life. Your article resonates in the same direction.

    Well, time to by-pass the message from my prefrontal lobe that says I cannot do anything else but lie on the sofa, and try to take a shower, eat something, maybe even phone a friend. And perhaps tomorrow, even be able to leave the house for a few hours….


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