Today I want to write about some potentially dangerous triggers of depression and the essential need for you to avoid them. If you are having a good day or a spurt of good days, the last thing you want is for your depression to creep back into you.
Coming from experience, this is so hard to control. It feels like depression can ease its way back into you when it wants or out-right slap you in the face when it wants. Nonetheless, it is important for you to try to avoid these potential triggers.
Avoid These 6 Triggers of Depression
1) Toxic People
This is a huge one. A toxic person is a massive trigger of depression. Whether this person is trying to re-enter your life or this person is new and you sense any toxicity in them, avoid them at all costs.
A simple rule of thumb I like to follow is if there is a person that does you no good in your life and only damages you and your health, then get them out. Even if they are family, that is not an excuse to keep them around. If they are family, then they shouldn’t be toxic to begin with.
Toxic people are often narcissists I find. Narcissistic people tend to have this fantasy of always needing to be superior. They have this kind of need for unlimited importance and the need for constant admiration or special treatment. They need to be approved by others and look powerful to everyone and if someone doesn’t give them this type of satisfaction or dominance, then that is a huge problem for them.
Often they portray feelings of jealousy, arrogance, and they are very egotistical which leads them to only having their best interest at heart and not their friends or family. If you have a friend that actually gets jealous at any of your success, then that person is a narcissist because they can’t stand you being in the spotlight and would rather see you fail than succeed. This is a no-no. Get them out.
However, toxic people can fall into many other categories such as those who use drugs and alcohol repeatedly, those who constantly need you, those who tend to constantly insult you even if they say it’s a joke, those who don’t support your kindhearted decisions, and those who may never truly appreciate you. If a person is not good for you in any way, they are toxic and need to get out.
2) Alcohol and Drugs
This feels like a no-brainer. However, if you struggle mentally then alcohol and drugs can be very tempting to off-set your feelings for a little while. On the contrary, if you are on a good day spurt in your depression journey you may feel like it is okay for you to have just one wild night. Don’t do this. Trust me. The next day you won’t know what hit you. There will be thoughts flooding at you in every direction – the depression and anxiety just seeping back into you.
Alcohol and depression is a terrible combination. Just have a nice tea instead or go out to dinner or to the movies with a friend. I have had many experiences and am definitely guilty of still doing this where I just let loose for a night, only to wake up thinking and rethinking of everything I did and everything I said that night.
I will play over and over every interaction and every detail. Why? Because not being in control of yourself is so scary and a night like that where the alcohol already has control of you will leave you wishing you had never done it in the first place. However, I also suffer with anxiety and this problem could be a result from both depression and anxiety. Nonetheless, alcohol will also push you back into that depression bubble the next day as alcohol has a direct impact on serotonin.
Drugs and alcohol are even worse. Just stay away from this please.
3) Stressful Situations
If you struggle with mental health issues already then you don’t want to put yourself into a situation that is potentially damaging to your stress levels. Know your limits and know your boundaries. The stress-depression connection is valid where a situation can cause your stress hormones to rise and your serotonin levels to decrease.
What causes you stress during the day? If there is something that causes you stress try your best to reduce the situation or at least the outcome of the situation that stimulates the stress response. Of course, there are going to be natural situations in life that will cause stress such as death of a loved one. When that time is here you can cope with that separately. However, minor things that cause you stress you need to try to avoid. If there are things you cannot avoid, then you need to overcome stress and depression in these scenarios.
Make a list of things that stimulate your stress levels. After you make that list, go to each item on the list and write down ways you can combat them as to completely avoid them or at least reduce the situation and/or outcome.
This is a trigger I have become very good at dealing with in my mental illness journey. If there is something that I know will raise my stress levels, I say no. Other things that I cannot avoid, I try my best to reduce the stress response by using cognitive approaches to these stressors.
4) Abruptly Stopping Treatment
If you are on any sort of treatment for your depression – medication, supplements, talk therapy – then don’t just stop it. There will be severe consequences for just randomly stopping treatment for your depression. I am guilty of this. Definitely guilty. Is it weird that I hate antidepressants? I have had mixed experiences with them and just wish they weren’t part of my treatment. They make me so bland like I just don’t feel like I am truly living – like I am living in black and white.
So I would stop taking my meds – sometimes for a couple days, sometimes for weeks, sometimes entirely until I put myself back on them. This honestly wasn’t a good idea. First of all, I didn’t consult with my doctor who knows more information of how this could negatively affect my well-being. Secondly, I did notice the abrupt decrease in my mood and still didn’t care to go back on them. It was like my depression actually made me feel real that I didn’t care.
This was a mistake. The mistake wasn’t that I stopped taking meds. That is actually fine. The mistake was that I just stopped out of nowhere and had no plan going forward. You should first talk to your doctor if you want to stop any of your treatment. You should never stop abruptly. Stop over weeks. If you are going to get off a certain medication, lower your doses very slowly until you are completely off them – same goes with supplements and talk therapy. It may seem like a good idea to just stop caring and quit your treatment, but don’t until you go to another therapy session or see your doctor.
And if you don’t know how to get help for depression – here is where you can start.
5) Eating Terribly
If you are depressed you have probably heard an awful lot about diet and depression. You have probably heard enough of it. I know I have. It irritates me when people tell me that a simple cure for my depression is a healthy diet. As much as we wish this was true, it is not. A boat load of things are necessary for us to alleviate our depression symptoms. However, a good diet is ONE of those things. Certain food groups do contain healthy nutrients that help to reduce inflammation in the brain. But a good diet is not just going to solve your depression – that is nonsense.
What is worse however is eating junk and more junk. Do not do this as the saying goes “you are what you eat”. It’s fine to eat junk here and there, but if you are eating tons of it, that is not good for your mental health. There are certain nutrients you need to feed the mind and certain substances you don’t need like sugar that have a direct connection to depression.
If you feel like you are having a good spurt of days with your mental health journey and you feel like a dessert – go for it. But just don’t over do it. I have had days when I just eat crap – nothing nutritional just complete junk. Well it does go along way as far as my mental health is concerned.
6) Weird Addictive Behaviors
I am not talking about drugs and alcohol here. Yes those are addictive behaviors that have severe consequences on mental health, but there are actually some weird addictive behaviors you may be doing that is not good for your mental health.
Binge watching TV is one of those things. Who would have ever thought? Are you ever having a good day and then you decide to just watch a new TV show and then end up watching that show in 2 days? That is not good. I have and now that I think about it, my mood wasn’t the best after it. Why? Because when a person stops binge-watching, it can lead to a sudden shift in neurochemistry and psychological feeling of a loss, just like those who stop drinking or doing drugs as the American Public Health Association states.
A couple time after finishing a TV show that I binged, I felt lost – like I didn’t know what to do with my life anymore. It was like my life was the TV show and now that I had finished it, everything was gone.
Let’s Wrap Up
So that’s my list of 7 triggers of depression you should avoid. These are the ones that definitely affect me the most. You may feel differently however. Let me know what sets off your depression over and over again.
Depression is very hard to control. You may find that you are having a good day and then all of a sudden your depression creeps back into you for no apparent reason nor trigger and stays for as long as it wants. Then it feels like most days are bad days for your mental health. Depression is difficult. It is very difficult. I don’t think I will truly ever understand all of it. Some days I feel like I understand none of it.
That being said, we still owe it to ourselves to battle and battle. We can’t just give it the win.
On a final note, I really liked this video that ventures more in-depth on identifying depression cues and triggers and tips on how to combat them.