If You Don't Set Boundaries, Your Depression Will Get Worse

October 22, 2020 Mahevash Shaikh

Let's cut to the chase: depression is mentally and physically debilitating. Even if you are do not have low-functioning depression, depression limits what you can and cannot do. To prevent depression from getting worse, one needs to learn to set boundaries. Here's why. 

Why Do You Need to Set Boundaries When You Have Depression?

Your energy is limited, so setting boundaries is important to keep depression in check. From what I've seen, those of us with depression tend to have lower energy levels than people without depression. It's vital to use your energy primarily for things that you need to do and things that you want to do.

When you don't have definite boundaries in place, people will not know how to interact with you. For example, your friend may demand your usual level of attention during a bad mental health phase. As a result, you will probably try your best to focus on that person. But as the expression goes, one cannot pour from an empty cup. Despite your efforts, your friend will figure out your lack of attention. Worse, you will end up feeling drained because you didn't invest the little energy you had in self-care

Saying 'No' Is a Boundary, and Saying It Will Help Your Depression

As illustrated in the above example, people can't read your mind -- and they certainly can't set boundaries on your behalf. Also, in my opinion, most people aren't naturally empathetic. When someone wants something from you, that person will put him or herself first and ask, demand, even nag you for it. Some people will walk all over you if you let them.

The simplest way to not be a pushover or someone easily manipulated is to set healthy boundaries. And in my experience, the most useful boundary is being brave enough to say no. A lot of us are afraid to use this word. We fear that we will come across as difficult or mean if we don't say yes. But remember, turning things down is important to keep depression at bay. I know saying no is hard, but the more you say it, the easier it gets. 

Respect Your Own Boundaries 

Yes, your boundaries apply to other people, but they apply to you first. It's important to be aware of what you can and cannot do. Life is unpredictable, and sometimes, you will have to cross your boundaries. But making this a habit will harm you in the long run.

For example, my week so far has been physically exhausting. Due to heavy rainfall and weather changes, I am down with a bad cold. Cloudy, dull weather typically worsens my depression, and this seems to affect my immunity. Personally, I think we tend to downplay the impact of mental illness on our physical wellbeing.

I've been in bed for most of my waking hours to cope, even as my father expected me to continue my chores as usual. When I assertively explained that I needed to rest for at least a week, he understood. But If I didn't respect my own boundary of prioritizing my mental health, I would have let feelings of guilt take over and pushed myself, to my detriment. Respecting my boundaries is why I am taking time off from work to get the rest that my mind and body need. 

What boundaries do you set to keep your depression from getting worse? Please let me know in the comments below. 

APA Reference
Shaikh, M. (2020, October 22). If You Don't Set Boundaries, Your Depression Will Get Worse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 20 from

Author: Mahevash Shaikh

Mahevash Shaikh is a millennial blogger, author, and poet who writes about mental health, culture, and society. She lives to question convention and redefine normal. You can find her at her blog and on Instagram and Facebook.

November, 15 2020 at 2:06 pm

Thank you for this post! I have an extremely hard time setting boundaries. I'm a very nice, sweet person, and I hate saying no. Plus, my family doesn't really understand how depression drains me. My mom thinks I'm just being lazy sometimes, even though I'm trying my hardest.
I still haven't learned how to set boundaries really, but I'm working on it.

October, 23 2020 at 6:26 am

So needed to hear this. Boundaries are damn hard for me to set especially with family. Thanks, Mahevash.

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