We are social creatures who need connection! Isolation is a major risk for depression. In addition, once someone is depressed they tend to withdraw from social interaction even further. In his book The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Treat Depression Without Drugs Stephen Illardi, Ph.D. gives a great example as to why people withdraw when depressed.
According to Illardi, people who are depressed withdraw in the same way that people who have the flu withdraw to allow their bodies time to heal. It helps our bodies to have time alone when we have the flu. When we are depressed isolation makes our depression worse. I have been working in mental health since 2001. Since I first started in mental health I have seen our culture become isolated from intimate connection.
I have seen isolation increase with the advent of the cell phone and social media. Although connected to a broader group of people, we have significantly less deep and meaningful connections. This lack of meaningful connection is what I believe leaves many feeling more lonely than ever. I am not saying that social media doesn’t have it’s place. I am saying it is important to be mindful of the type of connections we have. We need to foster supportive, healthy relationships in our lives.
When taking steps to recover from depression it is vitally important to connect with others two to three times per week. This can be challenging because when you are depressed you have less energy. It is difficult to initiate activities when your energy is low. In addition, those who are depressed often feel as though they are burdensome to others. Feeling burdensome creates further hesitation in initiating social interaction. It can be helpful to request that someone close to you supports you in taking initiative. This person can even check in with you to encourage you to get out and connect.
When thinking about who to spend time with and how to spend that time, it is important to be aware that some of your relationships may be toxic. If you spend time with others who also struggle with depression and together you lament the challenges of life you will compound each other’s depression. When spending time with others it is important for most of the time spend to be upbeat and positive instead of engaging in negative talk which increases depressed mood. In addition to connecting with people, connecting with animals can also be amazing for many people. Volunteering, becoming active in a church, club, or sports league can also be great ways to connect with others and form a sense of community.
If you or your child needs help with depression you can call our office at 720-583-9332. We will connect you with a counselor to help you
Written by Dr. Steffanie Stecker
Dr. Steffanie Stecker a licensed psychologist and the owner and clinical director of Mountain Vista Psychology, PLLC.
In addition, she is a board certified neurotherapist (BCN E5669) and board certified in QEEG (QEEG-D). Less than 100 people world wide are board certified in QEEG, which indicates competency in reading QEEGs and choosing neurofeedback protocols. Dr. Stecker is passionate about brain based effective therapy and creating a safe relationship for her clients to create change. She loves what she gets to do each day!