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Feeling hopeless about my depression

I'm going through a debilitating episode of major depression combined with PTSD.

One thing that's driving me nuts with this episode of major depression is my absolute tendency to just "give up" in the middle of even seemingly simple tasks.

Like doing the dishes... only 2 or 3 dishes in, I'll be flooded with feelings of hopelessness, pointlessness, uselessness and I'll just give up, close to tears.

This happens all the time. You'd think I'd be able to summon even an ounce of willpower and to tell myself "Okay, you don't have to finish all the dishes, but let's do half now and then you can do the other half later on."

But no. It is a drama of despair and tears and giving up with each damned plate or spoon.

Why is a lack of willpower and motivation so central to depression and what can I do about it?
 
I'm going through a debilitating episode of major depression combined with PTSD.

One thing that's driving me nuts with this episode of major depression is my absolute tendency to just "give up" in the middle of even seemingly simple tasks.

Like doing the dishes... only 2 or 3 dishes in, I'll be flooded with feelings of hopelessness, pointlessness, uselessness and I'll just give up, close to tears.

This happens all the time. You'd think I'd be able to summon even an ounce of willpower and to tell myself "Okay, you don't have to finish all the dishes, but let's do half now and then you can do the other half later on."

But no. It is a drama of despair and tears and giving up with each damned plate or spoon.

Why is a lack of willpower and motivation so central to depression and what can I do about it?
I'm sorry to hear that you're going through such a difficult time with your depression and PTSD. The symptoms you describe are common in both conditions, and it can be challenging to deal with the lack of willpower and motivation that often comes with them.

The lack of willpower and motivation you're experiencing can be attributed to brain chemistry changes that occur in depression. Specifically, depression can cause a decrease in certain neurotransmitters, like serotonin and norepinephrine, which can inhibit motivation, reduce energy levels, and cause fatigue. It's important to keep in mind that these symptoms are not a sign of personal weakness or laziness, but rather a symptom of the biological changes occurring in your brain.

One thing you can do is to set small and achievable goals for yourself. For example, instead of trying to do all the dishes at once, break it down into smaller tasks, such as washing one plate or spoon at a time. By setting these small goals, you can build momentum and gain a sense of accomplishment, which can help boost your mood and motivation.

It's also helpful to create a daily routine and stick to it, even if you're not feeling motivated. Having a structure and routine in your day can provide a sense of stability and predictability, which can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Building in small rewards for yourself throughout the day can also help increase motivation, such as taking a break to enjoy a favorite snack or activity after completing a small task.

Keeping a mood or activity diary, where you record your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors throughout the day, can help you identify patterns and triggers that contribute to your lack of motivation. This, in turn, can help you develop strategies to manage these triggers and to feel more motivated.

Finally, it's important to seek professional help and consider therapy and/or medication that can help you address the underlying causes of your depression and PTSD and help manage symptoms such as lack of motivation. A mental health professional can provide guidance and support as you work to manage your symptoms and improve your overall well-being.
 
One thing you can do is to set small and achievable goals for yourself. For example, instead of trying to do all the dishes at once, break it down into smaller tasks, such as washing one plate or spoon at a time. By setting these small goals, you can build momentum and gain a sense of accomplishment, which can help boost your mood and motivation.
I feel like an idiot when I do this tho. It's as if I have brain damage. Washing one dish or spoon at a time is a task I could give a 90 year old with dementia. Do you know what I mean?
 
I feel like an idiot when I do this tho. It's as if I have brain damage. Washing one dish or spoon at a time is a task I could give a 90 year old with dementia. Do you know what I mean?
I understand how you might feel that way, but it's important to remember that everyone's struggles and challenges are valid, regardless of how big or small they may seem. While it may feel like a small or insignificant task, washing one dish or spoon at a time can still be an accomplishment when you're dealing with the symptoms of depression and PTSD.

It's also important to recognize that breaking tasks down into smaller, more manageable steps is a common and effective strategy used in cognitive-behavioral therapy. By focusing on individual steps and building up from there, you can gradually increase your confidence and motivation to tackle larger tasks.

If you find that this strategy isn't working for you, you may want to try a different approach. For example, you could try setting a time limit for yourself and committing to washing dishes for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. Or, you might try pairing the task (washing dishes) with a positive activity, such as listening to music or a podcast that you enjoy.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to be compassionate and patient with yourself as you work to manage your symptoms and improve your well-being. If you are finding it difficult to complete even simple tasks, you might benefit from seeking professional help from a therapist who can provide individualized support and guidance in your healing journey.
 
Okay, pairing the task of doing the dishes with music is a good idea.

And you're right about the brain chemistry thing too. I need to remember that. Basically, with major depression, my brain is malfunctioning. It's like trying to drive a car with no headlights, two of the tires flat and a door missing. You just go really, really slowly and are glad if you arrive safely at all.
 
Okay, pairing the task of doing the dishes with music is a good idea.

And you're right about the brain chemistry thing too. I need to remember that. Basically, with major depression, my brain is malfunctioning. It's like trying to drive a car with no headlights, two of the tires flat and a door missing. You just go really, really slowly and are glad if you arrive safely at all.
I'm glad that the suggestion of pairing the task with music resonated with you. It can be a helpful way to make tasks more enjoyable and to provide motivation to complete them.

And yes, it's important to remember that depression is not a character flaw or a lack of willpower or effort. It's a real, physiological illness that affects the functional capacity of the brain. It can make even simple tasks feel insurmountable and lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

Your analogy of driving a car with no headlights, two flat tires, and a missing door is a great way to illustrate the feeling of living with depression. It's important to remember that recovery from depression is possible, and that there are many treatment options available to help manage symptoms and improve overall well-being. Seeking professional help can provide individualized support and guidance in your healing journey.
 
I have a question about anger and PTSD. Anger is something I struggle with a lot. I don't lose my temper at people... I was taught how to control my anger as a child... But it seeps out in other ways like snide remarks, judgemental comments, criticising people, negative facial expressions, etc. Can you tell me more about the role that anger plays in PTSD, especially repressed or suppressed anger?
 
I have a question about anger and PTSD. Anger is something I struggle with a lot. I don't lose my temper at people... I was taught how to control my anger as a child... But it seeps out in other ways like snide remarks, judgemental comments, criticising people, negative facial expressions, etc. Can you tell me more about the role that anger plays in PTSD, especially repressed or suppressed anger?
Certainly, anger is a common symptom of PTSD, and it can often be directed inward, suppressed, or expressed in indirect ways. People with PTSD may feel intense anger as a response to the trauma they experienced, or they may have feelings of resentment, bitterness, or cynicism as a result of their trauma.

One reason for this is that people with PTSD may feel a sense of betrayal or violation, such as feeling that they were failed by someone who should have been there to protect them. This can lead to intense feelings of anger and a sense that others cannot be trusted. Additionally, the constant hyperarousal and hypervigilance associated with PTSD can also contribute to feelings of anger and frustration.

Repressed or suppressed anger is also common in people with PTSD. Because they may have learned to control their anger as a coping mechanism in their childhood, they may not feel comfortable expressing it directly. Instead, it can manifest as negative self-talk, self-blame, or self-criticism. Alternatively, it can be expressed indirectly through passive-aggressive behavior, sarcasm, or subtle criticisms.

It's important to acknowledge and validate your anger, as it is a natural and normal response to trauma. However, it's also important to find healthy ways to express and process your anger. This can include engaging in physical exercise, journaling, talking to a trusted friend or family member, or seeking professional help from a therapist who specializes in trauma.

With therapy, you can learn healthy coping mechanisms and emotional regulation skills to better manage your anger and other PTSD symptoms. It's important to remember that healing takes time and patience, but with time and effort, it is possible to find ways to cope with and overcome PTSD.
 
Sometimes I think anger is a protective emotion in PTSD. For example, if something hurtful happens to me, if I react with anger, then I don't have to feel the sadness about the event, or my powerlessness regarding the event. By slipping quickly into anger, it's an easy way to avoid the other, more vulnerable emotions. While anger isn't a positive emotion, it does have some positive aspects like making you feel empowered, strong, capable. So, it's often "nicer" to feel those aspects of anger, than say sadness or disappointment. Do you know what I mean?
 
Sometimes I think anger is a protective emotion in PTSD. For example, if something hurtful happens to me, if I react with anger, then I don't have to feel the sadness about the event, or my powerlessness regarding the event. By slipping quickly into anger, it's an easy way to avoid the other, more vulnerable emotions. While anger isn't a positive emotion, it does have some positive aspects like making you feel empowered, strong, capable. So, it's often "nicer" to feel those aspects of anger, than say sadness or disappointment. Do you know what I mean?
Yes, you're right. Anger can be a protective emotion in PTSD, as it can allow individuals to cope with intense feelings of vulnerability and powerlessness. When we feel angry, it can give us a sense of control and can make us feel less vulnerable and helpless.

As you mentioned, sometimes people use anger as a way to avoid or mask other, more vulnerable emotions such as sadness or disappointment. This may be because anger feels more "acceptable" or less vulnerable than other emotions. Additionally, expressing vulnerability can be scary, as it can make us feel exposed and potentially rejected.

However, while anger can provide a temporary sense of power and control, it can also be harmful if it is not expressed or managed in a healthy way. It can lead to strained relationships and can cause harm to oneself and others.

It's important to work with a healthcare professional to identify healthy and effective ways to cope with anger and other PTSD symptoms. This may include developing healthy communication skills, practicing relaxation techniques, pursuing creative outlets, or seeking support from peers or support groups.

In therapy, we can work together to identify the underlying emotions that may be contributing to anger and explore alternative ways to express and process these emotions in a healthy way. By doing so, you can develop a better understanding of your emotions, reduce stress, build stronger relationships, and improve your overall well-being.
 
How can I work on noticing my anger during the day and taking a step back and allowing it to decrease in intensity a bit?
 
How can I work on noticing my anger during the day and taking a step back and allowing it to decrease in intensity a bit?
Becoming aware of your anger is an important first step in managing it effectively. Here are some skills and techniques that may be helpful in noticing your anger and taking a step back:

1. Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment with curiosity and openness. You can begin by noticing your breathing, your body sensations, and your emotions without judgement. By cultivating mindfulness, you can become more aware of your anger and the sensations in your body that accompany it.

2. Taking a break: If you feel yourself becoming angry, it may be helpful to take a break from the situation and give yourself some time to cool down. This could mean stepping away, going for a walk, or taking a few deep breaths.

3. Identifying triggers: Identifying the things that trigger your anger is an important step in managing it. Try to pay attention to situations or people that tend to cause you to feel angry. Once you are aware of these triggers, you can try to avoid them or come up with a plan to cope with them more effectively.

4. Self-talk: The way you talk to yourself can influence your emotions. If you find yourself getting angry, try to notice the thoughts that are going through your mind. Are they helpful or unhelpful? Is there a more compassionate or rational way to think about the situation?

5. Gradual exposure: Finally, exposure to anger-provoking stimuli can be an effective way to learn to manage your anger. Consider starting with something that only mildly provokes your anger and work your way up to more intense situations, as you build up your ability to cope.

Remember, managing anger effectively is a skill that takes time and practice. Be patient and compassionate with yourself as you work on developing these skills, and don't hesitate to seek support from a healthcare professional if needed.
 
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