Health & Wellness Articles

9 Common Depression Traps That Worsen Your Blues

Surprising Habits That are Making You Sad

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3. Feeling guilty during moments of happiness. In our deepest moments of sadness, we can still experience moments of joy—and that's OK. If you find yourself laughing out loud or realizing that you just had fun, embrace it. That doesn't mean you care any less or are suddenly "over" the issue. It just means you had a brief respite from feeling down. That's healthy!

4. Ignoring your health. It's easy to skimp on sleep, skip the gym, forget to eat and otherwise drop your habits of daily self-care when you don't feel like yourself. But this is the time when maintaining healthy habits should remain a priority. By all means, take a day or two off from your normal routine if you really need to—just get back to it as soon as possible. Exercise will increase endorphins and serotonin, the feel-good hormones, and have often been shown to have similar benefits to antidepressant medications. Good nutrition will give you the energy you need to continue meeting your responsibilities, and keep blood sugar levels stable. Swings in blood sugar are known to have negative effects on mood. Sleep is restorative and rejuvenating. Chronic sleep deprivation lowers serotonin levels in the brain, and can plunge you deeper into a depressive state.

5. Self-medicating with junk food, alcohol, sleeping pills or illegal drugs. Despite the immediate relief they may offer, these habits always lead to bigger problems down the line. In the throes of enormous sadness it's hard to imagine that you'll ever feel happy again. But experience and research tell us that with time, most people return to their happiness set point despite life's greatest adversities and losses. When that happens, you don't want to find yourself with15 extra pounds or a dependency problem to contend with. If you're experiencing extreme difficulty sleeping or severe anxiety, talk with your doctor about safe and effective options to help you through this difficult time.

6. Surrounding yourself with sadness. When feeling bad, an occasional cry from a sad movie, novel or emotional song can be quite cathartic. You might find you feel a bit better afterwards. But if you constantly dive into pursuits that are depressing—just because you're feeling sad—there's a pretty good chance you'll continue to feel those emotions. You might not feel like laughing, but an occasional lighthearted comedy or hangout with your funniest friend can do wonders to help lift your spirits. A good laugh is often the best medicine—especially when a good cry is no longer helping you feel better.
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About The Author

Ellen Goldman Ellen Goldman
Ellen founded EllenG Coaching, LLC to help individuals struggling with health issues that can be impacted by positive lifestyle change, such as weight loss, stress management, exercise, and life/work balance. As a certified professional wellness coach and certified personal trainer, Ellen holds a BS and Masters in Physical Education and is certified by ACSM, AFAA, and Wellcoaches Corporation. Visit her at Get her complimentary report, 52 Tips, Tools & Tricks to Permanent Weight Loss Without Going on a Diet, at

Member Comments

  • This is a great article, right up until the last paragraph. As someone whose depression is part of ptsd, comments such as that people 'often' experience 'enormous positive growth' from very traumatic events is a little too much pressure when coping can be pretty tough.
    Thankfully, the tips in the numbered points are a lot more helpful... - 2/22/2015 9:29:08 AM
    Many thanks for such a wise, resourceful, and insightful article! It's odd how guys head for beer 'n' pizza while women, for wine and Ben & Jerry's (I can see the latter, but alcohol - for me - is a 100%-guaranteed depressant). Countering rumination is pivotal, isn't it? - 9/19/2014 8:33:11 PM
    This is another article I am going to have to keep and refer to often! Thank you! - 9/19/2014 5:59:51 PM
    I agree with SarafromJersey. It's not worth it to eat junk food when depressed. I had to learn just this week to start eating healthy veggies. I find when I eat healthy, even though I feel sad, my body reacts better to the healthy food. When I eat junk food when I'm sad, I end up feeling worse.

    Thank you for writing this article. Very helpful. - 9/19/2014 1:43:10 PM
  • This is very true. Just last night, I wasn't feeling all that well, and have been stressed all week because of work. I got into the mindset that I didn't have the "energy" to eat well or work out, and the whole day spiraled out of control (I'm talking about a slice of cake AND a milkshake). While, at the time it felt like a well-deserved break, by the end of the night I felt sick, and then regretful. Anytime emotional eating occurs, I never feel good about it, and the 'euphoria' of indulging in junk food is so temporary, it's not worth it. - 9/19/2014 1:01:29 PM

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