How To Build Healthy Relationships When Depressed
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“Birds of a feather flock together”. My grandmother always said that to me to warn me about surrounding myself with “bad” people. The statement might seem cliché, but the meaning behind it is true, especially for people coping with depression. Human behavior can affect the therapy progress. Humans have the ability to think, feel, and behave like those who they spend their time with, and this is an example of a psychological principle known as "Group Think".
Group Think & Depression
Individuals who suffer from depression are emotionally unstable. When certain chemicals in the brain that affect specific emotions, such as mood and anger, don’t work properly, it is easy for people to be influenced. It would be nice to think that everyone in the world always follows the Golden Rule, but some people prey on those who are depressed in order to persuade them to join their gangs, political groups, drug and alcohol culture, fundamentalist religious sects, and so on. However, coping with depression is not easy, and indiscriminantly joining any group just for the sake of connection and purpose could be dangerous.
One of the best things that you can do when coping with depression is to build healthy relationships. There are many self-help guides that can tell you how to build healthy relationships, and a good self-help source is www.helpguide.org, Coping in with Depression. The website’s self-help guides provide a great starting point for someone who is ready to tackle their depression. The guide also includes ways to start tackling continuous negative thinking, which is one way to identify whether or not person suffers from depression. Meanwhile, one of the most important points the guide emphasizes is starting with small steps and building healthy relationships.
How to Build Healthy Relationships
1. Write or talk to a professional about why you have unhealthy relationships. The common denominator is you. This is the time to reflect on why you are always around people who don’t add anything positive in your life. You will start to uncover deep rooted issues that you didn’t think would cause you to constantly develop self-destructive relationships.
2. Separate yourself from unhealthy environments. This is one of the most difficult steps. Don’t feel discouraged and frightened of something new. It can be as simple as no longer hanging around the places where you meet people who bring you down. For example, a recovering gambling addict will not continue to go to casinos, and a recovering alcoholic will avoid bars and social drinking. Find something constructive to do that involves positive, creative, and constructive people.
3. Surround yourself with people friends and family that you are honest with you. Everyone wants to be around people who will say that you are right or agree with your side of the story even when you are wrong. Yet, these people will slow the process of recovering from depression. An honest and sincere person will tell you the truth, and tell you when you are doing something wrong. Be aware that you will may have to end relationships with people that you have had for a long time, and this includes family members.
4. Forgive. There are times when you have to let certain things and people stay in the past. But that doesn’t mean that don’t make amends with people that you hurt. I have hurt people that I thought hurt me when they were only trying to help. It takes a bigger person to acknowledge your mistakes. Apologize to those who have hurt you. It will help you resolve issues that caused the relationship to deteriorate. Don’t except the relationship with the other person to be the same. People drift apart. It is okay to have cordial relationships with the people from your past, and build new relationships.
6. Join a support group for depression. If paying for professional help is too expensive, joining a support groups is the next best thing, and it's often much less expensive and sometimes it's even completely free (when it's member operated). Search for support groups in your local community. Many hospitals offer free monthly support groups, and some employers offer a list of support groups that are affiliated with the company.
A positive group of people will give you the opportunity to be around people who are trying to cope with depression, and the opportunity to express your problems in a safe environment. Remember that you are not alone, and you are not the only person who with “a problem”.
- Heather Browning, MBA, BA
All Psych. Chapter 8: Section 4: The Role of Groups. Retrieved January 09, 2015. Smith, M., Segal, R., Segal, J. (November 2014). Retrieved January 09, 2015.