Finding Purpose Helps You Cope with Depression

May 10, 2017 Tiffanie Verbeke

Finding purpose can boost your ability to cope with depression, and finding purpose isn't as difficult as you think. Learn how you can cope with a purpose.

Finding purpose to help you cope with depression is powerful in that it pushes you to do something instead of sitting still, and utilizing purpose can help you realize your worth. I often feel purposeless and self-indulgent, working towards nothing specific and, instead, moving towards unclear goals (Accomplishing SMART Goals with Bipolar Disorder). So my most recent coping endeavor is figuring out how to cope with depression through purpose

Does Finding Purpose Just Happen?

I recently spent some time exploring the United Kingdom, looking around quiet towns and busy cities, not realizing that I was actively coping with depression through purpose. I've enjoyed traveling to new places since I was a child and my trip to the U.K. was the biggest endeavor I'd ever planned. And though I was nervous about traveling on the left side of the road, I thoroughly embraced the unknown and felt more joy than I ever have before.

My travel buddy and I both saw different smiles on each others' faces, laughing freely and singing loudly, feeling blissfully relaxed and open to the world. We had purpose as we traveled, seeking new experiences and learning about things unknown, meeting new people and being open about our experiences back home. Everything we did, we did with purpose and on purpose. Our depression took a back seat.

Finding our purpose just happened. It settled in during those U.K. adventures. Instead of decide that we would feel purpose when we travelled, we realized the purpose we had as we waded through bustling street markets and clambered up steep hills. Purpose is meant to be realized, not sought out or actively determined.

Living with Purpose in Depression Can Be Fleeting

Purpose is similar to motivation in the fact that it can be rather fleeting. Your purpose one day may be different than your next day's purpose, so keep in mind that coping with depression by finding purpose isn't always sustainable. Rather than depend on one purpose after it's settled in, allow yourself to realize unique and shifting purposes for yourself as you grow. My purpose during travel was seeking out adventure and knowledge, while yesterday, my purpose was to be supportive of a struggling friend.

Finding Purpose Demands Patience and an Open Mind

For a lot of people, purpose is an end goal and an accomplishment. "I must find my purpose," says the college kid who graduated a year ago and still feels lost to the world. What I've learned is that purpose is not an end goal. Instead, it is something that happens as I create a life of fulfillment.

Purpose is the patch of flowers that grows out of the compost pile. The compost pile exists to turn old food into soil, and a random patch of flowers grew out of it, so now I'll purposely put it on my other flowers to help them thrive. I've realized the purpose of the compost by simply letting it be.

Coping with depression by finding purpose demands that you keep your mind open to the many reasons you're around, and that you don't push to find motivations but, instead, let them fall into place. You must live with an open mind, letting yourself make choices based on what makes you feel content and healthy. And as you seek out things that fill your life with goodness, you'll probably find that purpose sinks in automatically and helps you cope.

APA Reference
Verbeke, T. (2017, May 10). Finding Purpose Helps You Cope with Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 from

Author: Tiffanie Verbeke

Tiffanie Verbeke is a writer who delights in thinking and despises typing. She gets fired up about mental health and societal inequalities and she finds joy in driving under shadowy trees, running when it's raining, and kids' brutal honesty. Tiffanie welcomes feedback, so contact her freely. Connect with Tiffanie on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and her personal blog.

Pat Warren
January, 17 2018 at 5:37 am

Dear Maria I didn't know my purpose and our Pastor took us through a 40 day educational program about purpose. He used the book Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I believe this class is for adults pretty much but if you read it you may find a way to communicate it to her. I am reading the book for the third time the second was when our Pastor took us through it but my purpose is clearer everyday.

Maria Flores
January, 3 2018 at 6:00 am

I have a 14 year old grand daughter that tried to commit suicide. She is on depression medication. I can't seem to get her to want to get motivated to do things. She sleeps all day because school hasn't started yet. She seems sad all the time. She'll be starting a new school and doesn't understand why she can't go to her old school. I just want some ideas to get her wanting to live and be a part of our world again.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 3 2018 at 10:40 am

Hello Maria,
I'm so sorry your daughter is going through this. I'm one of the current co-authors of the Coping with Depression blog at Healthyplace. What activities did she used to enjoy? Can you start off giving her a small schedule so that she doesn't sleep all day? Is there volunteer work she can get involved in? Often, the actions must come first and then the motivation do actually do them will follow. I wish you and her the best of luck.
--Michelle Sedas

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 3 2018 at 10:44 am

Hello, Maria. I'm Jennifer, one of the current co-authors of the Coping With Depression Blog. I'm not sure how long it's been since your granddaughter attempted suicide, but as an attempt survivor myself, I can tell you it takes time to feel well enough to step back into the world. Also, if she hasn't been on her medication for very long, then it takes time for it to start working, plus one of the side effects is that the medication can make you tired (that side effect usually gets better with time.) Continue to love and support her. Be open and receptive when she is ready to talk to you. Encourage her to get involved in extracurricular activities once school starts so that she has an opportunity to be a part of things and a chance to make new friends. If things don't improve within a month, speak with her healthcare provider. Your granddaughter is fortunate to have you on her side.

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