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Act Depressed and You Will Feel Depressed

6 Ways to Increase Bipolar Depression

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Updated February 26, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

"I was feeling better yesterday," said a community member, "but today it's freezing outside, and I don't have any appointments as I did yesterday. I'm lying on the couch watching whatever comes on the TV because it's too much work to change channels."

Depressive episodes in bipolar disorder can come and go on their own, but there are plenty of things you can do to make a mild depression worse. Here are 6 ways you can act to increase your depression:

1. Be a Couch Potato

Couch Potato Place
© 2012 Marcia Purse
As our reader noted above, doing nothing but watching television can contribute to depression. It's best if you do what he did: don't even bother to find the remote, just switch it on and glue your eyes to the screen regardless of the program. If that's more than you can stomach, though, pick something that holds your attention. Now you're that much more likely to watch for an extended period of time.

Another technique is to choose programs that reinforce your negative feelings. If you're angry at yourself for not exercising, for example, watch exercise infomercials. You may feel motivated while watching, but those people are already lean and fit and healthy. Are you? If not, the rigorous programs you're watching aren't for you. If watching these programs leads you to get a video on exercise for beginners or get started some other way, great! But if they just make you beat yourself up more, you've achieved your goal of increasing your depression.

2. Stay Indoors

Stay Indoors
© 2012 Marcia Purse
In bad weather, you have a ready-made excuse not to set foot outside your home, apartment building, etc. Use it. In good weather, manufacture an excuse. Some suggestions:
  • I don't want to get dressed today.

  • I might miss a phone call (if, like me, you still use a land line). This works best if you aren't expecting a call.

  • I really should be _______________. All sorts of activities can go here: cleaning house, catching up on email, organizing my junk drawers, sorting my paperwork, etc. Of course, make sure you don't actually DO the task.

3. Let the Clutter Accumulate

LOTS of clutter
© 2012 Marcia Purse
The higher the unopened mail piles on your living room table, the longer you leave grocery bags sitting in the kitchen instead of putting things away, and the more Cheetos bags that accumulate around your bed from munching while you read — the worse you're going to feel. Keep it up! Don't put books away after you finish them. Make sure you don't finish projects you started when you felt better (like organizing a junk drawer — whether you dump the stuff back in or leave it sitting out, you're guaranteed to be depressed about it).

4. Get Dirty

Dirty hair is depressing
clunkygirl / flickr
Personal hygiene is a serious problem for people with bipolar disorder (and some other mental illnesses), so I'm not making light of this issue. It's a very hard one for me personally. I find it makes me feel especially guilty, thus making me feel more depressed, if I have somewhere to go and know I should shower first, but don't do so. Also, if I let my hair get really rank, I'll start telling myself every morning that I'm going to wash it today, and every passing day that I don't adds a weight to my mood.

5. Don't Clean the Floors

Dirty Floor
© 2012 Marcia Purse
Here are a couple of tips that can help deepen your bipolar depression:
  • When you spill something on the kitchen floor, don't wipe it up. This works best if what you spilled is sticky. I've been doing a good job with this: a few weeks ago, I forgot to put some frozen food away (see Item 3, groceries), and a whole container of ice cream melted into a pool on the floor. Every time I see it, I give myself a mental bop.

  • Avoid vacuuming/sweeping. This technique can be great if, like me, you have pets whose fur doesn't match the carpeting. It's amazing how much we look at our floors, and looking at a dirty one is a great way to make yourself feel guilty.

6. Block Your Gaze and Your Space

Block Your View
© 2012 Marcia Purse
Wherever you spend a lot of time, work at making it visually difficult to escape it. For me, this is my desk. Paper trays stacked tall, piled high and stuffed to bursting can make it impossible to see more than a few feet in any direction. What I can see beyond them is an open supply closet, which is anything but restful and harmonious. This type of situation can go a long way to making yourself feel claustrophobic, anxious and agitated.

7. Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the ways you can act depressed to help make yourself feel depressed. You'll have noticed they encompass more than just feeling low — there are ways to add guilt, become angry at yourself, and feel worthless and useless.

Obviously, I'm not really recommending you follow this advice! My goal here is to increase your awareness of depressive behaviors. Changing one small thing - such as putting a note on the bathroom mirror saying, "BRUSH YOUR TEETH!" (if you've been neglecting this) can be a start toward getting out of a pattern of activity that reinforces or deepens your bipolar depression.

Want to Change?


Here are some helpful resources:
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Bipolar Disorder
  4. Diagnosis & Symptoms
  5. Moods / Episodes
  6. Depression
  7. Living With Depression
  8. Act Depressed and You Will Feel Depressed - 6 Ways to Increase Depression

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