Getting Out Isn’t Always the Answer

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Many, many times, when I have been severely depressed or anxious, I have heard the repeated suggestion that I just “get out and do something”. I think this is a common misunderstanding that people have about depression and anxiety, that the cure is always just going out and finding something to do.

Personally, I can say that if I am mildly or moderately depressed or anxious, getting out can indeed be a huge help. It is a good way to distract myself and can make my life feel less empty and more meaningful.

However, if I am severely depressed or anxious, “getting out” is absolutely NOT the answer, and I know this from experience. Whenever I have been severely depressed and I somehow managed to make myself leave the house, I have just been a teary, numb mess who ends up feeling worse for being unable to stop the tears in public. During these times, I am unable to join in with anything going on around me and will just sit there and cry and feel embarrassed, wishing desperately I had never left home.

As for times of severe anxiety, I often also deal with severe irritability and a tendency to snap at others, even when I don’t mean to do so. “Going out” when in this state can actually damage relationships because people wonder why you are taking it out on them, even if you absolutely don’t intend to do so. Not to mention the fact that severe anxiety often comes with intense panic attacks, which are something that is horrible to experience in public. Panic attacks suck no matter where you are when you have them, but given the choice I would always choose to be in the comfort of my own home dealing with one rather than out in an unpredictable public environment.

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10 thoughts on “Getting Out Isn’t Always the Answer

  1. I agree. And I think when things are really bad “getting out” by sitting outside the door for 5 minutes letting the sun shine on you is likely to be far more effective than actually going out into the world.

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  2. That can be so true. For myself being with people, even when my Depression was at its worst, was just stressful because the paranoia and pain and anger that my screwed up brain was convincing me I should have really hurt those interactions with other humans for me even though I am an extrovert and being with people is something I must do to be mentally healthy. Instead going out to a deserted natural space and just sitting and reading under a tree with not a human to be seen was something that perked me up on really bad days. Being with people when I had that numb feeling was very healing for me on the other hand, but I would think that isn’t true for everyone and I wouldn’t want to try to push any strategy to get better when someone was in severe Depression because often at that point there isn’t any easy answer like there can bewith mild or moderate depression.

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    • Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts! I am an introvert by nature, but I’m sure even extroverts have times when going out is not the best answer. I agree about going to a natural place without a soul in sight and spending some time alone can be healing too.

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      • It’s just a great thing to connect to yourself, and both nature and a bit of exercise like from a nature walk have both been proven to help many cases of mild to moderate depression.

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  3. I totally agree. Often I get to avoid going out if I’m recuperating from having gone out previously and become overwhelmed. The depression thing too. Mine starts from overwhelm though and if I don’t take care of myself anxiety and depression kick in. I get very irritable when I’ve been over exposed to people and/or noise etc.
    From what I understand, autistic depression is different.

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