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Overcoming Inertia in Depression I

Time-For-Action-Have you ever had the feeling of being so slowed down and uninterested in your daily life or usual activities that it is nearly impossible to do anything?  In this I include personal care, household chores, work or school projects, and family and social activities – all the things of your life.  And not just for one day, but for weeks on end?  This is a symptom of depression and bipolar depression and not at all unusual if you are experiencing those conditions.  On a somewhat better day you might think of something to do, but then find that you are unable to carry it through.  For example, maybe you make specific plans with your spouse and find that you have to back out at the last minute.  Then you berate yourself and feel guilty afterwards for disappointing him/her.  This adds negative feelings to your already abundant pain and suffering.  The good news is that there are some ways to get around this inertia and get back to participating in your life.  And in doing so, your depression will be lifted a bit.

Think of the phrase “Action precedes motivation” (original source Robert J. McKain).  It suits the purpose very well here.  The point is that in depression, the motivation and interest to do things is often markedly diminished or absent.  When that happens it becomes extremely difficult to proceed along with your daily routine and activities, in part because daily activities are often mundane and drab and in part because you just do not feel like doing anything at all.  It is often difficult to drum up the motivation to do these simple things when depressed, let alone the more interesting things of life.  The key is to not wait for yourself to get motivated to do any of them.  Just begin with the activity, or action, and eventually the interest in it and motivation to do so will follow.  It may feel monumental at the time, but just do it anyway.  For example, get the tickets to the movie you might want to see and just GO whether you feel like it or not.  Make arrangements to attend  an event with a friend next week and just do it.  The interest and motivation for doing so will come later, perhaps after you have been in that movie theater for a while, perhaps not until the next social activity.  Chances are that you will be glad that you got out of the house and away from your usual routine, and tried to have a pleasant time with others.  Your efforts will be rewarded.  So remember, take action first in whatever activities that come along in your life.  Do not wait until you get interested or motivated to do them.  That will follow later on.  Action precedes motivation.

This may seem like a lot of work and more to remember at a time when you do not want to do it.  Unfortunately, depression is an illness that requires a lot of work on your part to manage it well in order to keep the symptoms at bay and the recurrences minimized.  I encourage you to try.

Stay well!

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