Why do depressed people feel guilty?
“Is it my fault?” - Typical thoughts of people with depression
Depression manifests itself on many different levels of the body and mind. Physically, lack of energy, fatigue, and no sexual interest are common symptoms. On the one hand, the depressed mood, the feeling of inner emptiness and sadness are in the foreground. On the other hand, an important aspect of depression is what is known as dysfunctional. H. not helpful, thoughts. Do you sometimes ask yourself: am I to blame for my depression?
The "I am to blame" thought
It is quite normal for people with depression to wonder what the cause of their mental illness is. The enormous pressure of suffering hardly leads to these ruminations, since one expects a certain relief from the "correct answer". You want to finally find the cause of these unpleasant feelings and improve your own well-being. In itself, the "question of guilt" arises for a good and important reason. However, brooding is one of the typical symptoms of depression, as the cause cannot be found. There are a variety of possible causes of depression that work together and change again and again. A characteristic of brooding about the cause is therefore that those affected sooner or later seek responsibility in themselves out of desperation. This assignment of blame in turn affects the mood and creates a kind of vicious circle.
Help with the "am I to blame for my depression" thought
Controlling our thoughts is unfortunately impossible. Nobody can do that, neither our friends and acquaintances nor therapists, nor Zen monks who are constantly meditating. It is important, however, to become aware of the possibility of recognizing our thoughts as mere thoughts. No more and no less. What does that mean exactly? We can learn to step back inwardly and watch our thoughts. This method is called "cognitive defusion" in psychology. A simple exercise is to put the phrase "I have the thought that ..." in front of the actual thought. If that works well, you can go a step further and put "I notice that I am thinking that ..." in front of your stressful thought. This method is so effective because it is not about refuting the thought - which is often not so easily possible. But we can gain distance from our thoughts and thus gain relief without having to change our thoughts.
The “nobody likes me” thought
People with depression find it difficult to go about their daily tasks, to maintain friendships or even to actively shape their everyday life. B. to take a bike tour at the weekend. However, we often think that we are only liked by others if we achieve something and lead a presentable life with many great experiences. Apparently only those who are happy are liked. The social networks reinforce this false impression, as most of the people there only share their highlights with us. The truth is, nobody's life is always carefree and joyful. It is also a fallacy that nobody likes us when we are sad. But due to the aforementioned distortion in perception, those affected cannot simply get rid of the "Nobody likes me - thought" once it has crept in.
Help for the “nobody likes me” thought
In this exercise, too, the point is not to refute the “nobody likes me” thought, but rather to let yourself be confused by it. As indicated, it is our somewhat distorted perception that leads us to conclude that it is impossible for anyone to like us. We are simply not happy, exciting or successful enough for that. You may also have had the experience that other people have told you that this is not true. The only question is: what is true now? Our opinion or the other's point of view? Absolutely not important! It is important to be aware that our brain brings all impressions into a certain context - which is different for everyone due to different experiences. In a playful way, you could also say that our heads spin story after story. Try to name these stories in everyday life, e.g. B. the "Nobody likes me" story. Whenever something comes up in your mind that goes with it, you can attentively note: “Oh, there is the“ nobody likes me ”story again.” This exercise can help you to become less entangled in your thoughts.
The “It will never be different” thought
Depression is associated with tremendous psychological suffering. It is therefore only understandable that those affected harbor the terrible fear that this condition could never change. Associated with the "It will never be otherwise" thought is often a feeling of loss of control. People with depression feel helpless at the mercy of this “overwhelming feeling of horror”.
Help for the "It will never be different" thought
This exercise does not focus on the thought, but on the feeling that the "This will never change" thought evokes. Often it is hopelessness and powerlessness. Even if it doesn't seem like that to us sometimes, our feelings come and go. It can therefore be helpful to think of your own feelings as waves. Sometimes these are rather shallow waves, other times we have the impression that a tidal wave is following us. The next time you notice a wave of emotions coming your way, try surfing on it for as long as you can, i. H. to perceive it until it flattens out. No matter how big the wave is, that will happen at some point. The more often you "surf" on your feelings, the greater the confidence you can gain in the transience of your feelings and also of your depression.
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