Is a Tough Exterior a Good Way to Cope with Depression?

January 23, 2020 Jennifer Smith

Why might someone coping with depression develop a tough exterior? Is fostering a tough exterior a good way to cope with depression? Let's explore these ideas.

People diagnosed with depression cope in different ways. Some may want to talk openly about their depression, while others may prefer to keep their depression diagnosis private or discuss it only in intimate settings. Some might feel relief about receiving an actual diagnosis; some might feel anger or fear about being diagnosed with depression or major depressive disorder. Finally, some people might develop a tough exterior to help themselves cope when they are diagnosed with depression.

Why Someone with Depression Develops a Tough Exterior

In my case, I developed a tough exterior as a means of protecting myself. I dealt with stigma after my depression diagnosis and my time spent in inpatient psychiatric care. I lost a few "friends" who couldn't -- or wouldn't try to -- walk this path with me.

I refused to be vulnerable to that kind of hurt again. I also didn't want to deal with any potentially negative comments people might make, so putting up a tough exterior helped me guard against that possibility. If I was unapproachable, then I was safe from anyone who could cause me pain. 

A Tough Exterior and Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Is a tough exterior a healthy coping mechanism? I think the answer to this question is both yes and no; in my case at least, this is true. In reality, what I learned to do, after my depression diagnosis, was to set boundaries. I was taught to do this in therapy. A tough exterior is perhaps what I needed at first to muscle through those initial days of diagnosis and recovery while I was inpatient, but once the antidepressants had time to start working, then setting healthy boundaries was the goal.

Staying in "tough exterior mode" too long is, in my opinion, an unhealthy way to cope. When I was in that mode over a long period of time, I became cynical. I began not to trust anyone. I isolated myself even more than I already had been doing. I was angry and becoming a bitter person. 

In what ways have you developed a tough exterior? If not, how else have you coped with your depression? Do you feel your coping mechanisms are healthy or unhealthy? Why? Share your thoughts in the comments.

APA Reference
Smith, J. (2020, January 23). Is a Tough Exterior a Good Way to Cope with Depression?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Author: Jennifer Smith

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