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Treating the Inertia of Depression without Medications

I recently received a question from one of my blog readers about the problem of inertia in depression, in particular he/she wanted to know how it can be addressed and treated without medications. This is a thoughtful and excellent question and I thank the reader for submitting it.

Inertia is a pretty common symptom in depression. It is best described as the lack of physical and mental energy and interest in doing things, the inability to move and act. Inertia is the struggle we all have to get up and out and get going in our day. In depression, inertia often leaves us with a preference to lay on the couch instead of going about our daily activities. Depression makes it harder to generate the interest and energy to participate in our lives. However, the less you do, the less you want to do and that perpetuates a down and depressed mood. So what can you do to keep this from happening?

First, realize that it is a symptom of the illness and not an indication that you are being lazy. Then start in small steps. This will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and fatigued by all that there is to do. Attend to your own self-care routines on a daily basis. While it is good to accept help from others, such as your family and friends, here is a place where it is actually good for you to involve yourself in your own care. Get involved in shopping for and making your meals, making yourself a cup of tea instead of having someone bring it to you while laying on the couch, take some responsibility for a few of the household and family chores. Start slow and small and as you get better expand what you can do and add more things. The more you do, the more you will be able to do.

Next, have a calendar or agenda book and schedule your daily activities. Include work, home, pleasurable activities, social interactions, exercise, errands, responsibilities and obligations – all the things that you do. Hold yourself to that schedule, but not in a rigid manner. Be flexible with yourself. When you write things down and have a routine to follow, it is far more likely that you will stick to it. If you make plans with someone, it is also more likely that you will follow through with those plans rather than backing out at the last minute because you did not “feel” like doing it. Do not worry about whether you are interested in your plans or daily activities – just do it for now and the interest will come later. Keep in mind that “Action precedes motivation” and that your job for now is to just get started.

Stay well!


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