One of the main symptoms of a depressive disorder is a lack of drive.
But it is activation that can help speed up recovery. Experts agree that social activities, such as going for walks together or exercising in a group, are particularly effective.
However, the decision to engage in social activities often represents a double overcoming. Many patients report that in addition to the general unwillingness to expend energy on an activity, there are further fears about social contact.
The fear of being judged by others
“I know that my friends have a positive attitude towards me, and yet I see the looks on their faces when I tell them that I only got up at noon or stayed in my pyjamas all day,” reports one patient. “That’s when I lose the desire and also the courage to tell them everything honestly.”
No desire to be pushed
Relatives and friends try to do what helps with “ordinary sadness” when they are in contact with depressed people. They motivate, they push and they persuade. They treat a depressed person as if everything were a question of their own motivation.
This behaviour is logical and absolutely understandable if one is not sufficiently informed about the clinical picture of depression. Well-intentioned words can nevertheless harm those affected and thus lead them to avoid contact.
One sufferer reports: “If my friends knew how much energy it takes me to go shopping or to vacuum! Anyone who hasn’t experienced how insurmountable it feels to get up to do errands or any activity simply can’t imagine it.”
Having little to give
Relationships are made up of give and take. For patients, it is a challenge to ensure this balance. On the one hand, there is an increased feeling of having nothing to give and little room to manoeuvre when the other person demands attention or support. On the other hand, the negative self-image – which increases during a depressive episode – can also lead to self-reproach and strict self-judgement. Neither of these leaves a good feeling.
The recommendation: Understanding the illness and authentic communication
All of the above challenges that patients face with regard to social activities can be answered with the same recommendation. Develop understanding for the disease and communicate authentically!
Someone who knows the disease well can tell others about it and communicate their knowledge. At the same time, someone who knows about existing symptoms is less likely to judge themselves. The more “gracious” self-image leads to a more relaxed situation overall and thus to being less pressured in social situations as well.
Those who know facts can more easily pay attention to their needs and be self-caring without avoiding challenges. And a basic human need can thus be fulfilled more easily: The need for social interactions.
We at edupression.com want to help you with this!