The Chicken or the Egg: Depression and Withdrawal

One thing many people already know about depression is that people who are depressed often withdraw socially. While it’s true that social support is an important component of alleviating depression, this sometimes gets misconstrued as, “If I want to help my loved one, I need to force them to be in social situations.”

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You might ask yourself, “Why can’t they just force themselves to be social? Don’t they know that would make them feel better?” The fact is, depression is exhausting. And for many people, social situations are draining. When a person is already exhausted, the last thing they are capable of is forcing themselves to be in a social situation.

Many of us have seen a loved one come out of a depressive episode as they have engaged more with others, so of course we want to recommend what we think will help! But there’s a logical fallacy at play here: often times, as someone’s depression improves, they want to be more social. It’s not that socializing is making them better, but the fact that they are getting better is what is allowing them to socialize.

Wanting to help a loved one who is struggling is a good impulse, but trying to force them to heal a specific way is never productive. You can be there for someone and show your support without trying to push them too hard, and you can help them get in touch with professionals who can treat their symptoms.

Published by Dr Marschall

Dr. Amy Marschall received her Psy.D. from the University of Hartford in September 2015. Her clinical interests are varied and include child and adolescent therapy, TF-CBT, rural psychology, telemental health, sexual and domestic violence, psychological assessment, and mental illness prevention. Dr. Marschall presently works in the Child and Adolescent Therapy Clinic at Sioux Falls Psychological Services in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she provides individual and family therapy and psychological assessment to children, adolescents, and college students. She also facilitates an art therapy group for adolescents and college students with anxiety and depression. Dr. Amy Marschall is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Telemental Health.

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