Is a Minor Illness Making Your Depression Worse?
Sunday, April 15 2018 Martha Lueck
Any illness can make depression worse. Even something as minor as a cold can worsen mood disorder and depression symptoms. Read this article for tips on what to do when a new illness makes your depression worse.
Five Tips for When a New Illness Makes Depression Worse
1. Call in Sick from Work
Many people avoid calling in sick from work when an illness makes depression worse. One reason is that they feel guilty for not being able to help their coworkers. Another reason is they fear coming across as irresponsible to their boss.
A few days before writing this article, I struggled with the decision to call off work. My cold left me feeling really bad, not just physically but it also affected me emotionally, making my depression worse. Before I called off, I felt like such a baby. Other people had it worse than I did (Self-Stigma Complicates Mental Illness Treatment and Recovery). But if I was ever going to feel well enough to do my job, I knew that I had to rest.
2. Treat the New Illness
If you are treated for a mood disorder, you probably spend most of your energy striving for mental health wellness. If something makes your depression worse, you might wonder if something is seriously wrong with you. You might question whether to seek additional mental health treatment. However, if you have a short-term illness (such as a cold or the flu), the issue may have nothing to do with your mood disorder. It could very well have to do with your most recent illness. The best thing for you to do is treat the new illness first.
3. Remember Setbacks Are Okay -- It's Common for Illness to Make Depression Worse
You might find yourself getting sick at the most inconvenient times. Perhaps you are a planner and feel it absolutely necessary to meet every goal that you set for yourself in a certain amount of time. When an illness slows you down, you get frustrated. Unfortunately, this happens to everyone at some point. It is important to remind yourself that it is okay. You can accomplish your goals, even if they take you longer than you originally planned.
Before I started writing this blog, I had planned on writing about how to get back into an exercise routine while struggling with depression (How Exercise Helps Depression). Since I got sick, I could not go to the gym so I decided to write this article instead. I can focus on the subject of exercise for my next article.
4. Write About Something Positive
Sometimes if you have trouble resting, negative thoughts take over. So a few moments of positive thinking can make a huge difference. If you enjoy writing, it might help to write about a nice childhood memory or something that has recently inspired you. If writing stories is not your favorite thing to do, it might be a good idea to write down just one simple thing you would like to do after you recover.
5. Use a Mindless Distraction to Avoid Making Depression Worse
If you have slept enough and feel well enough to do something that will not require too much energy, try to engage in something fun. Watching a movie or television show can be very relaxing and it can take your mind off of your illness. Just be selective in your choice of topic; choose something that won't make your depression worse. Do not watch anything that focuses too much on mental health. Feel-good comedies might be more beneficial than dramas because they generally do not require as much attention to understand the content. Also, even if you get emotionally attached to a character, there will be something else in the content to make you laugh.