The Freaky Link Between Depression and Impulsivity

July 20, 2021 Mahevash Shaikh

Depression causes my impulsivity. For example, yesterday, I almost quit therapy. A few minutes into my session, I felt the urge to tell my therapist that I couldn't continue as nothing seemed to be working for me and probably never would. I acted on the thought and told her what was on my mind. She talked me down and said that sure, we had hit a wall recently. But that didn't mean things would never improve. Her words made sense to me, and we resumed the session.

The urge I had and acted on is an example of what I call "depression impulsivity," which is impulsive behavior as a result of depression. It's commonly experienced by people with depression and affects nearly all aspects of their life.

How Depression and Impulsivity Are Linked

I can tell you from personal experience that depression definitely makes one impulsive. And the more depressed one is, the more impulsive they are likely to be.

For example, one of my friends used to drink a lot whenever she felt hopeless. She would reason that life was pointless, so she might as well do whatever she felt like to make it more bearable. When she finally went into therapy to cope with her drinking problem, she was diagnosed with severe depression

It doesn't always have to be something life-threatening. For example, I had a problem with online shopping a few years back. When I used to feel more depressed than usual, I would go online and instantly buy whatever I liked. It didn't matter if I could afford something or not; if I wanted it, I got it. I had to learn impulse control via therapy to stop this destructive behavior. 

And I'm sure you know at least one person who has quit jobs for trivial reasons, got fired because of misbehavior, and so on. But how often has anyone linked such instances to depression? The way I see it, depression makes a person reckless. It makes one believe that since everything is bleak, there is nothing wrong with giving in to impulses that might bring some joy. 

Handling Impulsive Thoughts When You Are Depressed

Being impulsive is okay and even good on occasion. But if you do it often, it might cause irreparable damage. But who am I to judge? I think spontaneity makes life interesting, and as a result, it affects both my personal and professional life. At least when it comes to the latter, I am able to keep it in check. It's hard, but if I can do it, so can you. Check out the video below for some of my tips. 

It's freaky how much depression can impact one's life, isn't it? Has depression made you more impulsive as well? Please let me know in the comments section below. 

APA Reference
Shaikh, M. (2021, July 20). The Freaky Link Between Depression and Impulsivity, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 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.

June, 26 2022 at 9:37 pm

This makes so much sense now! I have cronic depression and I’ve lived my life being super impulsive, I actually thought it was part of my personality but now that I read this I can make clear connections with depression and impulsiveness . Its something Im trying to deal with now that I am aware of that. Reading this helps a lot, thank you!

Lizanne Corbit
July, 20 2021 at 6:52 pm

This is an incredibly valid point and one that many people often overlook or simply don't see, but when we think about it, it makes perfect sense. As you pointed out, typically with depression there's some level of hopelessness or feeling like "what is it all for", so that in turn ends up being the perfect excuse for reckless or impulsive behavior. This can also act as a very clever mask for depression since most people don't attribute the two behaviors to one another.

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