Depression Fuels Itself Through Negative Thoughts

April 24, 2012 Amie Merz, LPC, NCC

Something triggers a bad day. A poor night’s sleep. Receiving bad news. Stress at work. Relationship worries. It could be anything. We would hope that if we are going to be upset, it would stick to that one trigger and we can figure it out and get over it. But it doesn’t work that way, does it? Depression is a sneaky little monster that whispers negative, depressing thoughts in your ear, feeding and fueling itself, and pretty soon you are not just thinking about what triggered you, you are spiraling, going round and round in your head about every other thing that has ever gone wrong in your life. Depression Monster wins again.

How to Fight the Depression Monster and Negative Thoughts

Recognizing that depression fuels itself through negative thoughts is important in fighting back. Sitting in your room, staying in bed, not going to work, laying on the couch, isolating, pulling the covers up over your head…these are the things Depression Monster wants you to do. Because when you give in to it, more and more negative thoughts spin round and round in your head and instead of feeling better, you feel worse; even about things you weren’t even thinking about in the first place.

So what’s the solution? Get out of your head. Get out of your bed. I know you don’t feel like it but changing scenery, getting new air, distracting yourself, will help reset your mind and thoughts. Some people say imagine hitting the PAUSE button. Stop those negative thoughts. When you feel like closing in, giving in to that feeling actually makes it worse not better. Here are some suggestions to help your brain switch gears and get out of the spiral.

• Get in the sun, vitamin D helps
• Go outside for fresh air, breathe
• Take a warm shower, relax
• Exercise. Causes the chemical endorphin to release, natural medicine.
• Write it down, type it up. This uses a different part of your brain and the process moves it out.
• Talk to someone. Just like above, the venting gets it out.
• Help someone. Focusing on someone else can help reduce your over-thinking
• Pray, meditate, deep breathe, visualization
• Watch a movie; go to a movie, read a book. Allows you to get into a story line, shifts gears.

These are just a few ideas to “throw a stick in the spokes” of thoughts that are spinning and spinning. If you have other suggestions, please list them in the comments section for others to see.

Not Avoidance or Repression

I am not suggesting you avoid dealing with your problems. Ignoring them, repressing them, numbing them with drugs or alcohol, sleeping to not think, or hurting yourself to distract from the pain in your head, these are maladaptive ways to deal with problems. They cause new problems.

My goal in addressing this topic is to recognize when depression is spiraling into more negative thoughts and more negative thoughts…and more negative thoughts, and finding ways to recognize it, stop the negative train, and get off before it takes over. Depression often feels like a loss of control, powerlessness, and one way to fight back is to find things you CAN be in control of and take charge. Don’t feed that Depression Monster, let’s starve him out!

APA Reference
Merz, A. (2012, April 24). Depression Fuels Itself Through Negative Thoughts, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Amie Merz, LPC, NCC

June, 8 2020 at 5:42 pm

I am in a transition time. I was in a huge transition a year and a half ago out of a religious community. Huge to go in and huge coming out. I’m still a bit challenged. Hard to plan next steps. I am seeing so much negativity in people. It is a challenge. Feeling stuck and powerless at times. I meditate. It helps. I am at a crossroads with this thinking pattern and it was so active in the convent. Was hard to be myself. I know in my head the reality what the challenge is. Some family of origin stuff. Believed I could not hold all the tensions and move on. Hard to plan and accept. I had this pattern from youth. It’s so weird to believe I have no say in the thoughts that plague me. My mind knows better. I have engaged your suggestions.

June, 10 2020 at 6:52 am

Hi Joann,
I think religion is problematic, so it's a win you are out. I am glad you found this article helpful. Take care and more power to you for facing your demons.

Maria Houston
February, 7 2018 at 12:45 pm

I've had depression and OCD all my life! I'm 58 years old.

Ellen Schoenberg
February, 7 2018 at 12:29 pm

Hi Amie,
Hi Amie, I have been getting email on Healthy Place for over a year now.... I love the term "Monster'" because I've been using the same word myself regarding depression... I am 88 but in good health relatively. Lost my husband of 59 years 8 years ago.. We were always a twosome and despite having two caring middle age children and young grandchildren, I get depressed being a onesome. I am in therapy and taking a mild dosage of Xanax and Lexapro... However, I get the feeling that these meds are no longer helping... My psychiatrists lists the same advice as you.. Only reason I am writing is to tell you that your article is great but I need to adhere to it all.. Finding it difficult being a widow and the aging process, we all know, is not so Golden.... I guess I need to accept the fact that "been there done that" Not too easy... Again thanks for a wonderful article and I'm glad I'm with healthy Place". that is where I want to be.. Ellen..

IDELL rozier
August, 11 2014 at 5:20 pm

iam almost77yearsold iam alone my husband is deceased almost7yearsthe 20of sept.and tonight iwould love toseehim justone time. i have so many problems icant doanything ihave asthma, leakingmicavalvemyheart jumps out of rhythmalso have mentalilness towhere iwilldothingsandsay things, we were married 55 years we have 4children iam also mostly blind. ihave to take ashot in my eye every month thanks for listening

Karen Kalapothakos
July, 22 2014 at 10:27 am

I'm new to this group. Thanks for the good info. I'm currently feeling very well, but I've experienced very rough times Wish I had this resource a long time ago.

May, 15 2014 at 7:48 am

this is easy to say but not so easy to do im in that depression stage and i try to do this but its so hard probley would help if i had family or friends to help encourage but that is not what i have im so wishing i could feel good and happy again

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 8 2018 at 3:29 pm

hello Denise,, i would just like to agree with you on this, we are all different,, some may well be able to do certain things to help, others cant,, i have depression and im in the same situation as you,, i have no help or support from anyone,,i really can empathise with you,,,i hope you can find some happiness from somewhere ,

Leanne Watt, Ph.D.
May, 31 2012 at 7:04 pm

Dear Amie--
What a great article! It's really well done. Too often, the "monster" is not addressed adequately when depression is discussed. Your suggestions for moving people away from the death spiral are spot on. You're right about the 21 days-- breaking up the pattern is paramount.
My clinical specialty (as one of many psychologists in Pasadena CA who treat patients with depression) is working with those patients who are so stuck, they can't use the good advice that is available to stop the monster in their heads. For those who are too debilitated to "change the subject" in their brain, sometimes, the only way to jump start the process is by entering into a treatment where they can experience a new set of "messages" on an experiential level. The right psychotherapy can help these individuals to face into the original painful and/or neglectful experiences during childhood that helped to cultivate the hating/shaming/critical voice that lives in their head. Having an experience in treatment with someone that can reach in and speak to this part of your soul in a loving way can help these patients to start to rebuild in their brains a new kind of voice. Eventually, they can replace the cruel and abusive messaging with the kindness that they internalize in therapy. And soon, they will find their own impetus for stopping the mean thoughts and challenging them with a new, gentle voice that now belongs to them.
Wishing you well with your blog!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 31 2012 at 4:43 pm

Thank you somuch for the kind words. And keep up your great work helping folks. :)

May, 2 2012 at 6:15 am

I'm new to HealthyPlace...very helpful blog.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 4 2012 at 8:03 am

Welcome to HealthyPlace. There are so many great resources here. And thank you for the compliment. I am always glad to hear when something helps.

Vilas N. Kale
May, 2 2012 at 7:28 am

Thanks, I am sharing this with my daughter.The only promblem is that she keeps getting into the same thoughts again and again . She understands these thoughts, but she is very much lethargic to follow something different.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 4 2012 at 8:04 am

It is a lot of work! I hope she hangs in there. "They say" it takes 21 days in a row to change a habit. So if she can just keep practicing a little at a time it may get easier.

Patricia Avila
April, 25 2012 at 10:29 am

Great blog, Amie. Welcome to HealthyPlace!

Amber C
April, 25 2012 at 3:36 pm

I'm sharing this, I have some friends that could benefit from your wisdom. : )

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 4 2012 at 8:02 am

Please share with whomever you think would benefit! The more we can get the word out the more we can help those around us.

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