Why Is My Depression Getting Worse? Helpful Insights

Is your depression getting worse? Find insights on why depressive episodes may intensify and steps to manage a worsening mood disorder.

Depression affects not just your mood but also your thoughts and body.1 If you’ve had depression before, you might experience it again. Without treatment, depression can become more frequent and severe.1 You may feel constantly sad, lose interest in things you used to enjoy, and have changes in your sleep or eating habits. Other signs include feeling too slow or too restless, low energy, and a sense of worthlessness.1

Most treatments for depression involve therapy or medication. Combining both can be very helpful. It’s crucial to remember that the negative thoughts you have are a feature of depression. They do not represent reality. You should start feeling some improvement with treatment in a few weeks, although it might take longer.1

Key Takeaways

  • Depression is a serious mental health condition that can worsen over time without proper treatment.
  • Symptoms of depression can include persistent sadness, loss of interest, changes in sleep and appetite, and thoughts of suicide.
  • Women are diagnosed with depression more often than men, and certain groups like the LGBTQI+ community have higher rates of the disorder.1
  • Depression can co-occur with other mental disorders or chronic physical illnesses, making it crucial to seek comprehensive care.1
  • Effective treatments for depression include psychotherapy, medication, and brain stimulation therapy, often used in combination.1

Understanding Depression: A Serious Mood Disorder

Depression is more than feeling sad. It’s a mental illness marked by sadness, loss of interest, or pleasure.2 While we all have ups and downs, depression is different. It can disrupt your whole life. This includes your relationships, job, and school. It’s also more common in women than in men.

What Is Depression?

Depression can make you focus poorly, feel guilty or worthless, and see no hope. You might even think about dying or suicide. Sleep patterns and eating habits can change, and you feel drained.3 It comes from a mix of issues like social, psychological, and biological factors. People who face tough life events often end up with depression.2

Causes of Depression

Brain chemical shifts can lead to depression, and it sometimes runs in families.3 When chemicals like serotonin get out of balance, so does your mood, sleep, and hunger. Stressful or painful life events, poverty, and a lack of support also pile onto the risk.2

Symptoms of Depression

Having 5 or more symptoms for at least two weeks could mean you’re depressed.3 Without help, these feelings can linger for a long time.3 Every year, up to 16 million adults in the U.S. face major depression.2

Diagnosing and Treating Depression

Doctors diagnose depression with a detailed mental check and medical background review.2 They look for symptoms, how severe they are, and if any health issues affect the mind.

How Is Depression Diagnosed?

To diagnose depression, doctors do physical exams, lab work, and talk to the patient.4 Blood tests are common to rule out other health problems. They follow guidelines in the DSM-5 to pinpoint the depression type.

Treatment Options for Depression

Depression treatment varies and needs a team effort.2 Antidepressants may be part of the plan to reduce symptoms. Talk therapy or teaching new coping skills can also help a lot.2 For the most severe cases, where life might be in danger, electroconvulsive therapy is an option.2

If not treated, depression can last a long time.2 But, with the right mix of treatments and lifestyle changes, managing and beating depression is possible.2

Coping Strategies for Depression

Getting help from a healthcare provider is key for coping with depression.3 Professional support offers effective treatments like therapy or medication. This can greatly boost your mental health.3

Seeking Professional Help

Don’t wait to talk to a mental health professional if you are seeking help for depression. They can craft a personalized plan to meet your specific needs.3 With their help, managing your depression and starting to recover becomes easier.

Setting Realistic Goals

Setting goals for depression is a great coping method. Begin by dividing big tasks into small steps. This helps with feeling accomplished and seeing progress, even in tough times.

Always be patient and gentle with yourself as you aim for your goals.

Engaging in Positive Activities

Participating in positive activities for depression has a big effect on mood. Try activities you like, such as watching a movie, gardening, or joining social events.3 Doing something kind for someone else also lifts your spirits.3 Plus, regular exercise improves your mood, making it a good coping strategy.3

It’s wise to hold off on big decisions until your depression eases.3 With good support and strategies, you can overcome the challenges of depression. This can lead to a happier and more fulfilling life.

Why Is My Depression Getting Worse?

If you feel your depression worsening, it’s key to spot the signs. Understand what might be making it worse. Common causes include more stress, not taking your medications, or making poor lifestyle choices. It’s vital to team up with your doctor to tackle these issues early.2 This can help you avoid a downward spiral.

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A 2021 study found that a third of American adults get less sleep than they should. Twenty percent of them also deal with mental health issues. This link tells us that not sleeping well can significantly raise the risk of mental distress.5 For those with depression, 43% are obese, with women facing this more than men. And, a 2021 national survey showed that around 13.5% of young adults have both a substance use disorder and mental health issue.5

A 2018 U.S. study discovered that medicines causing depression are widely used. Loneliness and isolation are known to increase the risk of depression. Researchers say that repeatedly thinking negatively and ruminating can also make depression worse.5

In very severe cases, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts. This is a sign that you need to speak with a health professional right away. Around one in six people will face a major depression at some point. Up to 16 million adults struggle with clinical depression every year.2 Changes in brain chemicals like serotonin play a big role in how depression affects mood and sleep.2

The risk of depression can come from your genes, health conditions, hormonal shifts, or lack of a strong support network. There are good treatments for depression, from changing your lifestyle, using medications, to trying therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy.2

why is my depression getting worse

Recognizing Signs of Worsening Depression

As depression gets worse, people might see changes in how they think, feel, and act. Knowing these signs can help get help and support early.

Emotional Symptoms

Worsening depression often shows in how people feel. They might cry a lot for no clear reason or feel very sad and worried.5 These feelings make it hard for them to handle everyday life, affecting their mental health even more.

Physical Symptoms

Depression’s physical signs can get stronger too. Eating, sleeping, and energy levels might change a lot.5 This makes their overall health and life quality worse.

Behavioral Changes

When depression worsens, behavior can change noticeably. Not being able to focus, losing interest in what they used to love, and being more irritable are common signs.5 These changes can mess up their daily life, relationships, and how they work. It shows they urgently need help.

If you or someone you know feels depression is getting much worse, professional help is very important. Recognizing these signs early and taking action can lessen its bad effects. It can lead to a better end result for mental health.

Factors Contributing to Exacerbation of Depression

Many things can make depression worse. Life stress, like losing a job or a loved one, hits hard. It makes mental health suffer.5 Also, not taking meds right or quitting them makes things worse.6 Bad habits like poor sleep, no exercise, and using too much alcohol or drugs also play a big role.5 Talking to your doctor about these issues is key to avoid a deeper depression.

Life Stressors

Big life changes can really hurt one’s mental health. The stress of losing a job or loved one can mess up your day.5 It shakes your sense of safety and happiness. This can lead to feeling lost, scared, and sad, making your depression even harder to bear.

Medication Non-Compliance

Not sticking to your medication plan can be very bad for those with depression.6 If you stop taking your meds, your depression can get worse. It makes handling your feelings much harder.

Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices

Bad living habits feed depression.5 Poor sleep, no workouts, and too much alcohol or drugs can mess with your brain chemicals. This makes you more tired and sad, affecting your mental health a lot.

Managing Increased Depressive Episodes

If you’re having more or stronger depressive episodes, it’s important to seek professional help.7 A mental health provider can evaluate your situation. They might adjust your treatment plan and help you find strong support. Changes might come to your medications, more therapy, or new coping strategies. Keeping in touch with your healthcare provider and taking an active role in your care can help you handle a tough time.7

Adjusting Treatment Plan

You and your mental health provider can work together. You can work on your treatment plan to better deal with your increased depression. This might mean changing your medications, trying new therapies, or looking into different treatments. It’s about being open to change and adapting to how you’re feeling. This way, you can start the best journey to managing your depressive episodes.7

Building a Support System

Having a solid support system is key when depression gets worse. You can connect with close friends and family, or find a local or online support group.7 Regular talks with a mental health professional can also help. It’s important to have people around who get what you’re going through. They can offer the emotional, practical, and social support you need. This will help as you work through your depressive episodes.7

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Preventing Depression Relapse

To fight off depression’s return, changing your lifestyle is key. This includes working out, sleeping well, and steering clear of alcohol and drugs.8 It’s crucial to stick to your treatment, be it therapy or meds.9 Adding methods like mindfulness and support from friends can also keep depression from coming back.8

Lifestyle Modifications

Leading a healthy life can really improve your mood. This means eating well, exercising, sleeping enough, and relaxing.8 It’s vital to spot stress early and deal with it before it becomes too much.8 Thinking ahead about what stresses you out and finding healthy ways to cope is key.8

Continued Treatment Adherence

Most folks with depression see 4 or 5 episodes in their life.9 Relapse is when you get depressed again within 6 months of treatment.9 Taking your meds as directed and sticking with therapy cuts the risk of this.10 It’s about self-care too, like sleep, exercise, and eating well. Plus, no alcohol or drugs and finding healthy ways to cut stress are vital.9

Stress Management Techniques

Feeling muscle tension or an upset stomach can be signs of stress. So can thinking things are hopeless or feeling unloved.8 Yelling or being pushy is how some folks show stress.8 Bad sleep, arguing with family, and huge life changes can set off depression.8 Starting a new job or dealing with more duties can also be tough.8 It’s smart to plan for handling stress even when you’re feeling well.8 And asking for help when stress is too much is important.8

The Importance of Self-Care

Self-care is key in dealing with and beating depression.11 Doing things you love, like hobbies or spending time with loved ones, can boost your spirits.12 Having a daily routine, with enough sleep, is also important.12 Talking to friends, family, or joining a support group can make you feel supported.12 Always remember, looking after yourself is vital for recovery.

Engaging in Enjoyable Activities

Discover hobbies that make you happy to fight depression.12 Things like painting, writing, or cooking can help.12 Spending time outdoors or trying new things also improves your state of mind.

Maintaining a Routine

Keeping to a daily schedule, including enough sleep, helps fight depression.12 Good self-care, like eating well and staying active, boosts mental health daily.

Seeking Support

Having friends and family who get you, but also treat you normally, is important.12 Connecting with others facing depression also feels comforting.12 Recovery colleges offer classes run by people having mental health struggles. They’re a great support too.

Depression and Suicide Risk

Depression makes the risk of suicidal thoughts much higher.2 Around one in six people face a major depressive episode in their life. Also, up to 16 million adults yearly battle with clinical depression.2 These numbers show how vital it is to spot the signs of suicidal thoughts early and get help right away.

Warning Signs of Suicidal Thoughts

As depression gets worse, people might show signs of thinking about suicide. They may talk about death or wanting to die, or even try to kill themselves. Knowing these signs is crucial since not addressing depression can be deadly.2

Seeking Immediate Help

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, quick action is critical.13 Reports suggest that one in five with depression will try to kill themselves at some point.13 Reach out to emergency services, a suicide hotline, or a mental health expert right now. Immediate help is key to overcoming this tough situation and staying healthy.

Remember,13 depression hits both mental and physical health hard, sometimes leading to tragic results.13 Knowing the warning signs and acting quickly can stop the harm caused by depression and suicidal thoughts.

Overcoming Depression: A Journey

Beating depression is a path full of ups and downs, yet celebrating wins both big and small is crucial.14 As you move along in your healing process, cherishing any sign of improvement is vital.14

Celebrating Small Victories

Grasping little triumphs is key to overcoming the blues. Whether it’s engaging in fun, finding a reason to get out of bed, or seeing things a bit clearer, every small step matters.14 They act as beacons, showing that even slow progress is progress.

Maintaining Patience and Perseverance

Staying patient and persistent is essential for depression recovery.14 Sometimes it might feel like nothing’s changing, but don’t lose heart. By persisting with help and self-care, overcoming this hurdle is possible.14

Remind yourself, getting through depression is not about reaching a final point. It’s about the journey itself. With dedication and the courage to celebrate even the tiniest wins, you can make it through, stronger than before.

Resources for Depression Support

Feeling overwhelmed by depression is very common. But, there’s lots of help out there.5 Many resources act as a lifeline for those facing mental health challenges.

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Online and Offline Support Groups

Joining support groups, either online or in person, can make a big difference. They create a community where you can open up.5 Here, you’ll find people who understand, share advice, and validate your emotions.

Mental Health Hotlines

For immediate support, mental health hotlines are very useful. SAMHSA’s national helpline is open 24/7 for free, private help.5 Also, there’s the 988 Lifeline, which provides crisis support anytime.

Counseling and Therapy Services

Professional help through therapy and counseling is key. Mental health experts will work with you to create a plan that fits your needs.15 They use proven therapies to help develop healthy ways to cope.


Understanding depression and its signs is important. Knowing how to handle it helps.16 Getting professional help and using strategies can make a big difference. It’s important to make lifestyle changes and use available resources. This way, people with depression can start feeling better.16,17 Recovery takes time. But, being patient, staying strong, and getting the right support can lead to success after depression.

Depression affects people in many ways. It hurts mental health.16,17 Learning what makes it worse can help. Taking steps to manage it puts you back in control.16,17

Getting better from depression is tough. But, with support and taking care of yourself, you can do it.17 Celebrating wins, being patient, and using many resources can help. It lets people work towards a happier and more fulfilling life.16,17


What is depression?

Depression is a serious mood disorder. It affects everything from your body to your mood and thoughts. You might feel sad or lose interest in things you used to enjoy for a long time.

What are the causes of depression?

Many things can lead to depression, like tough life events or genetic factors. It’s a mix of social, psychological, and biological reasons. Those who have faced hard times are often more at risk.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Feeling down isn’t the only sign. You might struggle to focus or feel like you’re not good enough. Some may have thoughts of death or suicide. Sleep, eating habits, and energy levels can also change.

How is depression diagnosed?

A mental health expert will talk with you and review your history. This helps them understand what you’re going through. They will look for key signs to make a diagnosis.

What are the treatment options for depression?

Depression can be treated in many ways. This might include therapy or medicines like antidepressants. In severe cases, electroconvulsive therapy could be an option.

Why is my depression getting worse?

Several things can make depression worse. More stress, not following your medication plan, or making unhealthy choices can all play a part. It’s important to address these issues.

What are the signs of worsening depression?

As depression gets worse, you may start crying more often or feel hopeless. Anxiety might become overwhelming. You could also notice big changes in your eating, sleeping, and energy levels. Difficulty focusing, losing interest in things, and becoming more irritable might also happen.

What factors can contribute to the exacerbation of depression?

Crises like job loss or the loss of a loved one can worsen depression. Not taking your medicine as you should, or ceasing treatment, and leading an unhealthy life are also risk factors.

How can I manage increased depressive episodes?

If your depression starts to get worse, seek help from a professional. They can re-evaluate your treatment and help you find support. This step is crucial for getting back on track.

How can I prevent a relapse of depression?

Sticking to healthy habits, like regular exercise and good sleep, is important. It’s also key to keep up with your treatment plan. Avoiding alcohol and drugs can help lower the risk of relapse.

Why is self-care important in managing depression?

Taking good care of yourself is vital in dealing with depression. Doing things you enjoy and keeping a routine can brighten your mood. Support from loved ones or groups can be very encouraging.

How can depression increase the risk of suicide?

If you start thinking a lot about dying or ending your life, it’s a serious sign. If you or someone you know feels this way, reaching out for help is crucial right away.

How can I overcome depression?

Be patient and don’t give up. Celebrate the small steps forward in your recovery. With support and your continued effort, you can defeat depression and feel better.

What resources are available for depression support?

There are many ways to get help, from online groups to mental health hotlines. Seeking professional counseling or therapy is always a good choice. Use these resources to start your journey to wellness.

Source Links

  1. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007
  3. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/major-depression
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20356013
  5. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/depression-getting-worse
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK215119/
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322495
  8. https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/infosheet/preventing-relapse-of-depression
  9. https://www.webmd.com/depression/depression-relapse
  10. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320269
  11. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/two-takes-depression/201702/why-self-care-is-hard-depressed-individuals
  12. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/self-care/
  13. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/depression-what-you-need-to-know-as-you-age
  14. https://www.adrian.edu/files/assets/overcomingdepressionworkbook.pdf
  15. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression/art-20045943
  16. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3330161/