The Cycle of Depression and How to Interrupt It

Depression can feel like a dark cloud constantly looming over you. It might feel like you are moving through life carrying a backpack full of heavy rocks, or as if you’re stuck on a hamster wheel, going around and around but never forward. Depression looks different for everyone, but some common symptoms include feelings of sadness, loss of interest or enjoyment, low mood, changes in sleep, low energy, feeling hopeless or worthless, and difficulty focusing. These symptoms might negatively impact your functioning in areas of your life such as work, school, or relationships. Oftentimes, the symptoms of depression perpetuate one another, which results in the cycle of depression.

Here is what the cycle of depression might look like: symptoms arise such as fatigue, low energy and motivation, or reduced interest and enjoyment. These symptoms typically result in engaging in fewer activities or hobbies, neglecting responsibilities, or withdrawing from meaningful social groups. From this, an individual might miss out on the things that used to bring joy and pleasure, resulting in guilt for neglecting responsibilities, hobbies, and people. Their feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and sadness may worsen as they are hard on themselves and feel increasingly stuck. These feelings then feed back into depression, resulting in the same feelings of low energy that began the cycle.

Although the cycle of depression is difficult to get out of, it is not impossible! So, how can the cycle of depression be interrupted?

  1. Increased activity is a great way to break the cycle because activity can both improve your mood and increase energy levels. Starting small is key – this might look like stepping outside for 5 minutes, going for a walk, getting a coffee with a friend or tackling daily responsibilities. With increased activity comes less guilt, more pleasant feelings, and increased hope, which improves depression and results in greater motivation, interest, enjoyment, and energy.
  2. Reducing stress and worry through relaxation and grounding can help break the cycle. This might consist of meditations, breathing, or utilizing the 5 senses to engage with ones’ surroundings.
  3. Connect with your support system. Reaching out to family and friends or cultivating new relationships can reduce isolation and feelings of loneliness, which can ultimately promote hope. If this option doesn’t feel like a good fit, reaching out to Walmsley and getting connected to a counsellor can be beneficial.

There is no one size fits all solution – every individual and their experiences are unique. Breaking the cycle of depression may look different for each person, professional support can help you identify which strategies will best support you through this process. 

Kaitlin Chapple, MA, RCC
Walmsley EFAP