Behavioral Problems in Depression

Rethink all the behaviors that may have adversely affected your life, although you may or may not be aware of their roles in triggering the symptoms of your depression in the first place. 

First of all, recognize that you have problems in your behaviors—whether these problems are the causes or the effects of your depression is as controversial as the case of the chicken and the egg. Medications, supplements, diet, and exercise are merely tools for depression management. Correcting your behavioral problems goes a long way to preventing depression, instead of constantly placing yourself in a crisis-control mode.

Recognizing your behavioral problems helps you monitor your personal depression triggers that lead to your depressive episodes.

Emotional Instability

Your behaviors reflect your emotions and their expressions. Depressed individuals are often at the mercy of their emotions: they cannot control their emotions, no more than they can restrain their expressions, which have a direct or indirect impact on their depression.

Anger, a common behavioral problem of individuals suffering from depression, is conducive to creating many inadvertently difficult and stressful situations for themselves, and thus precipitating their depressive episodes. Repeating such behaviors only perpetuates their depression recurrence.

What causes anger? 

Judging others

You may be judging the behavior of others: your judgment is based on a set of rules about how people should or should not act in a certain way.

When they do not act according to your rules, you become angry, resulting in your behavioral problems.

People you are angry with rarely agree with you. To think otherwise is asking for the impossible.

People rarely do what they should do. So, why bother to be angry if they don't?

If you demand people do according to your rules, you are ignoring reality, which is often a recipe for depression, and a cause of your own behavioral problems.

Remember the following:

People, too, have their own set of rules (you are not alone) that may not comply with yours.

People have their own rules, and they are also realities to them.

For example, a driver who cuts in front of you only sees the need to get to his or her destination on time, regardless of your safety. You have your reality, and so has the driver. Both are looking at different sides of the same coin. So what is the use of being angry? 

Anger control is simple: “Thou shalt not judge!”

Demanding your needs

You want something, and you think you should have it; and not getting it, you become angry. Your demand is based on: your expectation and your entitlement. For example, you expect your adult sons or daughters to call you regularly; you think you are entitled to it after spending years of bringing them up. But your needs are not their needs.

Rethink your need justifying your demand

If you let your need justify the demand, you will find it difficult to take a “NO” for an answer. You will respond with your behavioral problems.

Your imaginary need and deep pain from not having your need met must come first, and the function of any relationship is to serve you, that is, to meet your need. 

This fallacy in demanding your need not only damages a relationship but also causes deep anger within yourself, often manifested in your behavioral problems. This emotional need may be one of your underlying depression triggers.

Anger control is simple: stop demanding like a spoiled brat!

Rethink your emotional need. Rethink relationship functioning to serve your personal need.

Changing others’ behaviors

It is a myth that you can somehow change others’ behaviors through your coercion, intimidation, and even threats, often manifested in your abusive language or sudden bursts of anger. 

Remember, people change only when they want to change, not because you want them to change. They change only when they see the need, but you cannot make them see the need. To impose on them to change only creates more behavioral problems 

Anger control is simple: stop attempting to change others when you cannot change yourself!

Rethink becoming angry over others’ reluctance to change into the way you want them to change.

Manipulating others

Manipulating others to meet you emotional needs often backfires. It is making others feel bad in order to make you feel good by meeting your own emotional needs. Instead of controlling others, you may find yourself being controlled, that is, at the mercy of others who have the power to make you unhappy by not meeting your emotional needs.

So, stop saying the following:

  • “If you loved me, you would . . . . .”
  • “If you really cared, you wouldn’t . . . . .”
  • “If you were a real friend, you could . . . . .”

They are nothing but conditional assumptions aimed at manipulating others. Unfortunately, you rarely get what you want, except making yourself angry and alienating yourself from others. These manipulations are behavioral problems themselves.

Remember, no matter how much a person may love or care about you, that person has to take care of his or her own needs first. This is the reality and this has nothing to do with being uncaring or unloving.

Anger control is simple: stop manipulating in order not to be manipulated!

Rethink using manipulating strategies to meet your emotional needs.

Punishing others

If someone hurts you, punish that person verbally or using other means. Essentially, you are seeking revenge for perceived infliction of pain to you. You erroneously believe that punishing someone will make that person treat you better in future, or at least teaching him or her a good lesson. 

Rethink the "getting-even" syndrome.

But YOU are responsible for your hurt and pain. Remember, it is your experience, and nobody is responsible for how you feel, except yourself. You are responsible for your own experience, whether it is joyful or hurtful. Blaming others is merely shifting such responsibility to others. Blaming is punishing others for how you feel about yourself. This is one of the behavioral problems characteristic of depressed individuals.

Rethink playing the blaming game—you will always be the ultimate loser.

It is fallacy to believe that you can use your anger to control others’ future actions, thereby instrumental in controlling your own future experience of joy or pain. 

Anger control is simple: stop punishing in any relationship!

Rethink the crippling capability of anger on any relationship. 

Mind reading

Learn not to read into someone’s mind or put meaning into someone’s words. In other words, do not interpret what someone has said or done to you.

A depressive mind has the tendency not only to think but also to believe that someone has deliberately hurt you. Such belief triggers your anger and creates the indelible pain that may haunt you for the rest of your life. 

Rethink others’ intentions in hurting you. This is one of the behavioral problems that may lead to paranoia or panic attacks. 

Anger control is simple: stop reading someone else's mind if you have difficulties understanding your own!

Exaggerating depression-trigger thoughts

You sometimes magnify your depression-trigger thoughts by making things seem worse than what they actually are. Through exaggeration, you feel your anger is justified because you have come to believe that you have been grossly and unfairly wronged. You may think now you have a reason and a right to be angry, but you don't! 

Anger control is simple: stop justifying your actions!

Rethink your exaggeration—it may be one of your depression triggers.

In summary, anger is a common emotional experience in a depressed individual. It is also one of the depression triggers. You feel depressed: you may be angry with yourself for who you are, what you are; you may direct your anger towards others for causing you the pain as a result of your experience. But anger is a devastating emotion that not only drains you of your physical and mental energy, but also perpetuates the illness. Anger control is critical to managing your major depression.

Also, visit my web: Anger Management.

Spending Problems

Depression is often the main source of money and spending problems in life.

One of the symptoms of bipolar depression is excessive and uncontrollable spending, especially during manic episodes.

Admit that this is a real problem (it is the illness, not the personality problem), and learn to deal with it by controlling the manic episodes. Accept that mania is going to affect your life financially. Vehemently denying that you have spending problems will only make matters worse. Aim at preventing the mania at all cost to avert spending problems.

Life ahead of you is forever changing, simply because you are living in a forever-changing world. To be capable of adapting and adjusting to these financial changes is crucial to your mental health. However, spending problems often mess up your finance.

A positive personal finance may give you more options when these vicissitudes occur, and salvage you from undue financial stress, which may trigger your depression. 

Money is a BIG stress factor in life. You need secure financial health to live, to retire, and to survive. Just think of all those medical bills, services, and assistance you may need down the road. 

To solve your spending problems, consider the following:

  • Don’t ever fall into the trap of buy-now-and-pay-later, which may be FOREVER! 
  • Don’t ever run up your credit card debt. Consumer debt is the Number One financial stress factor.
  • Don’t buy what you don’t need with the money you don’t have. 
  • If you don’t have the discipline to control your spending (in the case of mania), then use a  debit card instead, or a prepaid credit card. 

What if you are already heavily in debt right now as a result of your past behavioral problems?

Credit-card counseling services may not help you. Do you really think many of those so called "non-profit" organizations are out there to help you get out of your debt? Think again!

Behavioral Problems in Addiction

Addiction may come in many forms: alcohol addiction, food addiction, gambling addiction, and the Internet addiction. These are all behavioral problems that may adversely affect depression.

Labeling does not help you determine if you have such behavioral problems. Only you yourself can tell if your behavior is a problem or not.

That particular behavior gives you pleasure or changes your mood (e.g. alcohol, a food item, gambling).

That particular behavior interferes with your life (e.g. spending all or most of your time on the Internet while neglecting your daily duties, such as washing the dishes or doing the laundry).

That particular behavior needs to be repeated, and you may even get agitated or irritated if somebody attempts to stop that behavior pattern.

Forming the addictive behaviors

Addiction is repetition of any negative behavior that an individual either has become unaware of or has developed tolerance from within.

If you cannot stop doing something that is not good for you, and others have noticed it before you do, that is already an addictive behavior. You can be addicted to just about anything in life.

Addictive behaviors affect your neurochemicals, making you feel “good.” Once an addictive cycle is formed, your choice is replaced by a less voluntary and more compulsive pattern of behaviors. 

In the case of the Internet addiction, you may feel “knowledgeable” and “connected to the rest of the world.” It is this feeling of "high" that sets the groundwork for the beginning of an addictive cycle.

Remember, your addiction has nothing to do with your personality. Addictions research suggests that your addiction may come from heredity, diet, health, and stress, among others.

Breaking the addictive cycle

You learn your addictive behaviors. To break your addictive cycle, you must unlearn those behaviors. That is, you must diligently and deliberately address your behavioral problems.

Remember, each time you repeat your addictive behaviors they become strengthened. However, if you replace your addictive behaviors with other behaviors, the addictive behaviors become weakened. Therefore, breaking your addictive cycle has to be structured, requiring much persistence.

Motivated to break the addictive cycle

You must be motivated to want to break the addictive cycle. Motivation is the key to success in overcoming addictive behaviors. You must see the need to break the addictive cycle. If you are addicted to sugar, you must see why sugar is bad for your health.

You must be positive about wanting to break the addictive cycle. Write down a list of reasons for breaking your addictive behaviors. Without it, you will fail ultimately.

Becoming aware of the addictive behavior

You must become aware of your addictive behaviors in order to stop them. You must know the triggers of your addictive behaviors, how and when such behaviors occur.

Developing strategies to break the addictive cycle

You must repeatedly remind yourself of the need to break your addictive behaviors.

You must notice the signs of addictive behaviors before they start. Stop the behaviors immediately, if need be.

Seek the support of others. Reward yourself for overcoming your addictive behaviors.

Replacing the addictive behavior with another positive behavior

If it is the Internet addiction, replace it with watching the DVD. If it is sugar addiction, replace the dessert with some other healthful food.

If the addictive behavior is due to anxiety, resolve the anxious feelings.

Being consistent and persistent 

A habit or any addictive behavior is easy to form but difficult to break. But it can be done with consistency and persistence. Be mindful of your progress.

Learning to deal with lapses

Remember, addictive behaviors are automatic—just as some people make a bee line for the refrigerator immediately when they enter their homes. As such, addictive behaviors can recur. Do not despair, and do not be too hard on yourself. You are not back to square one yet. See your failure as a lapse, not a relapse.

If alcohol or drug is one of your addictive behaviors, Addiction Free Forever provides everything you need to know to overcome your alcohol and drug addictive behaviors. 

Addictive behaviors are behavioral problems in depression that you need to overcome in order to control and manage your disorder.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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