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. She completed her internship at the National Psychology Training Consortium with specializations in assessment and rural mental health. Currently, she specializes in trauma-informed and neurodiversity-affirming care, and she is certified in telemental health. Dr. Marschall runs a private practice, RMH Therapy, where she provides individual and family therapy as well as psychological assessments across the lifespan. Dr. Amy Marschall is an author and professional speaker.

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