I sometimes think of life as a journey, and we are all adventurers plunging into the wild unknown. Each day brings new challenges, dangers, and emotional ups and downs. We survive from one day to the next by the skin of our teeth, knowing that tomorrow is full of unknowns. Exciting, right? Exhausting, too. Sometimes the losses, battles, and hardships pile up. It’s harder and harder to get up in the morning, and we’re filled with a sense of hopelessness and anxiety.
What happens if we fall short? What happens when we can’t keep going? We catch a glimpse of our reflection in a pool and don’t recognize ourselves anymore. Gone is the adventurer, and in their place is a tired traveler with all her flaws, regrets, and failures written on her face. She knows she can’t keep going, and she feels like she’s letting down everyone who’s depending on her.
In today’s post, we’re going to explore the link between shame and depression.
Depression and Lethargy
When we’re lost in the jungle, swallowed up by darkness, hopelessness sets in and depression sinks its claws into us. Overwhelmed and exhausted, we find ourselves letting things go. Impossible to get up, and easier to sleep in. Taking care of chores around the house feels like a monumental task, and as deadlines and responsibilities at work pile up, that sense of hopelessness only builds up.
Behavioral Symptoms of Depression
Our bodies are built to self-regulate, so in many cases, depression leads us to behave in ways we normally wouldn’t. We sleep all day, binge television or snack on junk foods. Sometimes we turn to drugs or alcohol to get us through the day. When we struggle with depression, we’re in pain. Accordingly, our bodies look for ways to numb and dull those feelings.
Some other behaviors correlated with depression include:
- Irritability and anger management issues.
- Feelings of hopelessness.
- Inability to focus or complete tasks.
- Lack of interest in hobbies & activities.
- Changes in weight \ eating habits.
- Low self-esteem and lack of confidence.
Think again of that adventurer entering the jungle. At the start of her journey, she is bold and confident, but she is changed by the weight of her challenges. Instead of feeling strong, capable, and confident, she feels flawed, incapable, and broken.
The Source of Shame
We feel shame when our behavior and our values are misaligned. People often associate shame with religion. Shame is the mechanism that keeps them in line. Normally, It keeps us from doing things we believe are unhealthy or wrong. When we believe we should always be strong, we’re more likely to feel ashamed during moments of weakness.
In the example of the adventurer in the jungle, her shame results from looking at herself and thinking she’s supposed to be the person she was at the start of her journey. Most people feel this way at some point in their lives. They look into the mirror and see their wrinkles, worry lines, and imperfections, and the disconnect between how they look and how they believe they should look causes them shame.
Depression & Shame
Because depression makes us behave in ways normally out of character, it’s often closely correlated with shame. Whether it’s because we’ve turned to drugs or alcohol, gained weight, or fallen behind at work, the result is the same: a deep sense of shame and self-loathing makes us feel unworthy and broken. The sense of feeling unworthy or broken enhances the feelings of hopelessness and uncertainty that depression feeds on.
Depression causes shame and shame feeds into depression.
If you’re caught up in a cycle of depression and shame, please reach out to set up a consultation. It’s difficult to battle depression on your own, but with the rest therapeutic techniques, you can overcome your challenges and learn to break the cycle of shame and depression. Reach out to learn more about depression therapy.