When A Depression Trigger Sneaks Up On You

November 10, 2013 Liana M. Scott

When a depression trigger sneaks up on you, there is no time at all to prepare yourself. I suffered such a depression trigger this past week that sent me down a very dark rabbit hole, very fast.I have been planning something for several months involving me and my best friend, something that we are really looking forward to. A few days ago, after having made several compromises, a big piece of my plans finally came together. It wasn't exactly what my friend and I had planned but it was very close. I was so happy, so excited, that all I wanted to do was share my news with her. I contacted her right away and gave her the great news. Her response was essentially, "That's all? Well, that's not really good enough." I'm paraphrasing, but you get the point.

Depression triggers can set off a series of rapid emotions.

[caption id="attachment_1469" align="alignleft" width="280" caption="By Theeradech Sanin, courtesy of"]When a depression trigger sneaks up on you, it can set off a series of rapidly declining emotions. Learn how to deal with a depression trigger.[/caption]

I was wrecked. In a matter of seconds, I went from being over-the-moon with elation to plummeting down that rabbit hole, unbridled. The depression trigger set off a series of rapid emotions. I was speechless and wanted to scream all at the same time. I wanted to cry but was too numb to do so. I wanted to throw up.

The feelings lasted all day, during which I kept reliving the incident trying to figure out why this had affected me so badly. I came up with two reasons; one physical and one emotional. I figured that physically, I had suffered a peri-menopausal burst of hormones. Some kind of chemical catalyst. Emotionally, I felt burned by my best friend's intense negativity.

It was the fear of falling further down the hole that made me use one of my cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques. I reached out for depression support and it made all the difference. I gained another person's perspective on why my best friend may have reacted so negatively. More importantly, I received validation - that the disappointment I felt was perfectly normal, albeit slightly amplified (understatement).

This depression trigger snuck up on me, knocked me off my feet and kept me out of the game for the whole day. I'm not sure how or if I could have avoided it but at least, for next time, I may be better able to recover on my own.

APA Reference
Scott, L. (2013, November 10). When A Depression Trigger Sneaks Up On You, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Liana M. Scott

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August, 22 2017 at 10:07 pm

I feel you. Some days I think I am alright. But a trigger will come a long way and not I am living in the dark area of my mind again. Feeling down, miserable. It's only death i see to solve this. But yes, finding away can be of help.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 14 2019 at 1:45 pm

No one has yet been able to tell me why suicide is not an option. I remember calling my friend of 30+ years and having him tell me that " you know, sometimes folks get tired of hearing about your problems all the time." I was devastated but somehow I hung on. Don't j know why I'm still alive sometimes but at least I'm now trying to find out why.

August, 19 2019 at 1:14 pm

Hello, psmith50. I'm so glad you reached out here. I'm Jennifer Smith, one of the current authors of the Coping With Depression Blog. I'm sorry your friend spoke those hurtful words to you. Not to defend him, but perhaps he was having a bad day or was really stressed at the time in which you called. Also, he doesn't speak for everyone. Please continue sharing your thoughts and feelings with your friends. I want to encourage you to speak with a healthcare professional if you're not doing so already. My depression has improved since I sought treatment from both a psychiatrist and a therapist. I want you to also know that there are many reasons why suicide is not an option that you should choose. I myself attempted to take my own life almost three years ago. I can promise you that I'm so glad I was unsuccessful. I've done so many wonderful things since that awful night that I otherwise would have missed. Things get better. They really, truly, honestly do. It takes time. It takes support, which I know you can find through doctors, support groups, and the right kinds of friends. Keep holding on. I'm so proud of you. Thank you again for reaching out.

June, 20 2017 at 11:44 am

I know this feeling, i once sought a one off advice from a close friend (it wasnt it a habit) and they told me "you know what ? you got to learn to do things on your own". That was one of my saddest days.

January, 24 2016 at 7:51 am

I have gotten a lot out of cognitive therapy. Everybody has different issues, but I think CT is extremely helpful with a lot of them.

John Payzant
January, 21 2016 at 5:39 am

An excellent book on cognitive behavioural therapy is Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns. I have found it very helpful over the years. /especially Chapter 3. In my experience there is no one approach that works. I use a whole arsenal of approaches, including CBT, seeing a therapist, medication, exercise, supportive friends & family, affirmation cards, body language and a Buddhist practice I do.

October, 18 2015 at 4:56 pm

CBT does take time depending on the severity. It had worked better for me than counseling. I am reducing work load too. Past three years too many 7 day weekers. This 2016, by Friday 3:00 pm work is done until Monday. How this affects income I don't care. Time to live and deal with depression and GAD.

angel beck
February, 7 2015 at 11:39 pm

Everything i just read in this artical is exactly how i feel on a daily basis !!

Betty Carlson
August, 29 2014 at 6:42 pm

I have not done CBT but I am in my 3rd year of DBT. My therapists office has some great classes. Several of the class members and I are friends on face book and will remind each others of DBT skills to use both on good days (ie: building mastery) or bad days ( distraction, pros and con's). It really helps to get those post to point out skill you are using or should try to use.
I have been treated for deppresion for 25 years. I had to agree with my doctor a year ago that working was no longer for me or my employer. I have good days or good hours and I have bad days. Many days are got through by reminding my self that I can do anything for 15 minutes then I don't have to do another 15 minutes or if the minutes went well to do another 15. Then after 45 minutes take 15 minutes to pamper myself (is: a cup of tea, watching nature, lighting a scented candle,listening to a favorite album, petting my dog )

August, 29 2014 at 5:28 pm

To me the intense emotional response seems like a borderline pd feature than actual depression. Nonetheless, the example of utilizing CBT is beneficial and again another perspective.

Sonya Forsyth
April, 5 2014 at 12:50 pm

I never really thought of depression as having "triggers", like an asthma attack or a food allergy would. I is an interesting new perspective, as I have been struggling with Clinical Depression since childhood. Thanks.

Patti Holm
November, 17 2013 at 3:50 pm

Thank you.

November, 17 2013 at 3:19 pm

The young man became so preoccupied with suicide that his concerned friends moved in and stayed with him day and night, making sure to remove knives and guns from his presence. As he stayed awake, agitated and delirious, they maintained a vigil for more than a week.
Later, after the crisis abated, a friend invited the man to live in his lodging and helped start him on a career in law.
The young man later went on to become sixteenth President of the United States - Abraham Lincoln
LB, this is how your friends should be when you are depressed. Genuinely concerned.

November, 17 2013 at 8:58 am

As someone whose felt greatly disappointed at the insensitivity of others and good friends, I'm wondering how this is any different than just feeling let down? I too have depression, but wonder how many times we victimize ourselves when it's really normal to feel truly upset at the lack of tact on a friend's part? It's really important not to make a pathology over not liking other's lack of manners. Feeling betrayed is awful and it's important to trust one's intuition. Dealing with the outcome is indeed harder with a depression diagnosis, but for me the key is to recognize those whose behaviors may repeat and certainly not condone them.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Liana Scott
November, 17 2013 at 9:41 am

Hi Lb. You are SO right, some things are just a let down and I'm no virgin to the insensitivities of others and good friends. In this case though, I wouldn't say that I victimized myself. Knowing myself as I do, my personal pathology, as it were, I know the difference between disappointment and/or disillusion versus something that had the potential to really bring me down and keep me down, as this did. Over time I have gotten to know my own personal triggers and have learned to avoid them as much as possible. Even negative people. In this case, the entire episode and the intensity of the feelings (both physical and psychological) were rather surprising. I have now listed this experience among my known triggers and as I indicated at the end of my blog, hopefully next time I can better deal with the feelings.
Thanks so much for your comment :-)

Nancy March
November, 16 2013 at 2:58 pm

I tried to take CBT before in a group setting and it was hard with my anxiety I never returned .Your above story happens alot with Borderline personality too where I feel like Im at the end of my rope when people let me down when we have plans or alot of times my friends dont make plans with me they use the word "Maybe" then make me wait all day or week for a yes or no then I get prepared then they let me down its happened more than once

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Liana Scott
November, 17 2013 at 9:34 am

Hi Nancy. Keep trying the CBT. Though I would agree that the group setting didn't work for me either. Still, I kept trying it on a 1-on-1 basis and it really helps.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 17 2018 at 3:53 pm

For borderline personality disorder look into DBT instead of CBT

November, 13 2013 at 6:35 pm

I found that CBT does not help me a lot. Sometimes, I do not believe in CBT.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Liana Scott
November, 14 2013 at 1:48 am

Hi Terry. You're right, it doesn't always work... but we have to keep trying. If we just give up and don't at least try then we really will do down and hole and potentially never come out.

November, 13 2013 at 8:33 am

I would like to know more about cognitive behavioral therapy.

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