How Depression Robs You Of Your Sense Of Control

People suffering from depression are often told to “snap out of it,” or to “be grateful for their lives.” However, if you are currently in the grips of the disease, you often feel powerless to stop your feelings from controlling your life. Symptoms of depression are often severe enough to interfere with your daily activities, and the longer symptoms persist, the less you may feel in control. Learn more about how depression can overtake your sense of control as well as what you can do about it. 

Depression Can Magnify Feelings of Helplessness

Often, depressed people fixate on aspects of their lives that seem to be causing or resulting from their depression. HelpGuide.org lists one of the symptoms of depression as, “A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.” Once you’ve become fixated on this outlook as a result of your depression, you may begin to feel as though your situation is beyond your control. The National Institute of Health published a 2011 study conducted on British Pakistani women experiencing depression. One key finding is common among depressed people of many cultures and ethnic backgrounds. “Three key overlapping themes emerged: a) ‘feeling stuck’–for many of the women, the persistence of depression was experienced as inescapable because it was related to family conflict that seemed impossible to resolve.” While this finding is specifically related to family dynamics experienced by British Pakistani women, this feeling of “being stuck” tends to emerge in many people with depression, and can be caused by any trigger situation. 

Overall Perception of Control Can Increase Risk of Depression

One reason depression may cause feelings of a lack of control is that people who have a tendency to believe that their lives are controlled by chance are also more likely to develop depression. According to a paper published by Jerry M. Burger of Wake Forest University titled, Desire for control, Locus of control, and proneness to depression, ” It was also found that high desire for control subjects who held external perceptions of control were most likely to seek nonprofessional help for depression. In addition, high desire for control subjects who perceived their lives as generally controlled by chance were most likely to have suicidal thoughts.” If a person has a general perception that he isn’t fully in control of his life, these feelings may be heightened during bouts with depression. 

Seek Help 

Regardless of whether or not you think that you are in control of your depression, you always have the option of seeking professional help. In cases where patients suffering from depression report feeling out of control, psychotherapy can go a long way toward regaining your normal life. According to the Counseling and Wellness Center at Wright State University, “Psychotherapy offers people the opportunity to identify the factors that contribute to their depression and to deal effectively with the psychological, behavioral, interpersonal, and situational causes. Skilled therapists such as licensed psychologists can work with depressed individuals to…identify negative or distorted thinking patterns that contribute to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that accompany depression.” By working with a trained therapist, you can begin to identify your own negative thought patterns and begin to regain your sense of control.

Depression can send you spiraling into a feeling of helplessness and despair, but it is possible to regain your sense of control over your life and your depression. If you are feeling as though you have no control over your situation, or if your feelings of helplessness are persistent, there are plenty of resources available to set back on track and help you feel hopeful.