Bad Brain Days And Depression Intensity
I have good and bad brain days, and the intensity of my depression varies. Some mornings, I wake up and smile at the sun and sky, make myself a superb cup of coffee, and spend the day enjoying every second of activity. And some mornings, I struggle to open my eyes, I get angry about the beautiful weather, and I skip all of my meals (Depression Symptoms: What are the Symptoms of Depression?). There was a long span of time where I thought it was unfair that my depression seemed to go away and come back without warning, until I realized that I was viewing depression incorrectly. I didn't realize that depression shifts in intensity and that good and bad brain days just happen.
On Bad Brain Days, Accept the Depression Intensity Shift
Depression does not go away -- it simply varies in intensity. I view that intensity as if it is on a scale of 1 to 10, the low end meaning that my depression is only slightly affecting me, and the high end meaning that my depression is severely impacting my day. I refer to the days during which my depression leans towards the higher end of the spectrum as “bad brain days.” So the definition of a bad brain day would be a day that my brain is having a rough time with the chemical imbalances that cause my depression.
Bad Brain Days Are Different for Everyone
Each person has a different experience with their depression, so what consists of a bad brain day varies too. My bad brain days include the desire to sit on the couch for the entirety of the day, to skip every meal, and to generally disrespect my wellbeing. Meanwhile, my partner’s bad brain days bring crippling anger, overeating, and intense irritability. One of my dear friends finds her bad brain days to spur self-destructive behaviors and the idea that all of her friends loathe her. I mean it when I say that bad brain days are unique to each individual who has them.
Communicating About Bad Brain Days and Depression Intensity
One of my constant worries is that I will speak about my depression and people will assume that I am being dramatic. The stigma regarding depression is incredibly prevalent in U.S. society, so I picked the phrase “bad brain day” very carefully. It feels casual enough to use regularly, and concise enough to explain what is happening with my mind. Plus, people often ask me to define a bad brain day, which prompts a dialogue about depression and gets me jazzed.
No matter how intense (or not) my depression is, it is always there. I remind myself to enjoy the good days for as long as possible, and to treat myself respectfully on the bad days.
Depression Doesn't Disappear on Good Brain Days
Verbeke, T. (2016, July 27). Bad Brain Days And Depression Intensity, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 9 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2016/07/depression-shifts-in-intensity-and-bad-brain-days-happen
Author: Tiffanie Verbeke
The vast majority of those suffering from depression first seek treatment from their primary care providers. Involvement in structured exercise has shown promise in alleviating symptoms of clinical depression. Since the early 19, researchers have been interested in the association between exercise and depression. Early case studies concluded that, at least for some, moderate-intensity exercise should be beneficial for depression and result in a happier mood.
I am currently experiencing a bout of depression. Yet I have not been able to see a doctor to be diagnosed with it I know for sure. No one seems to understand what it's like for me I'm told to stop being dramatic or to take a nap. I stayed home from work yesterday and I just felt soooo terrible. Laying around watching TV. The drank a bottle of wine and slept some more. I'm just never fully happy. I'm usually happy for a moment but it never seems to sustain itself. I also notice it's even more intense when I'm anxious about something usually financial. I just don't know how to deal with this.
What you're experiencing right now is incredibly tough, and it's even tougher when people are not being supportive. Even though you have not received a doctor's diagnosis, I would encourage you to care for yourself extra, because you have explained that your current symptoms and behaviors seem to be lining up with those of someone with depression. I'm impressed by how self-aware you are. I mean, you have recognized that financial anxiety triggers more intense depression, and you haven't even seen a doctor yet! A lot of people don't recognize their triggers until they are well into their experience with depression. You're ahead of the game.
I highly recommend reading up on depression, and to study how to cope in a healthy way. This link will take you to a page with all sorts of information on depression (symptoms, causes, treatments, etc.): http://www.healthyplace.com/depression/. You can also keep up with the Coping with Depression Blog for some more ideas on how to handle depression.
Be kind to yourself, and keep fighting the good fight.
i wish some people understood that I can start the day off at a 2 on the bad day scale and begin to slowly or on some days quickly begin that decline and then incline and then decline again. It's confusing and frightening and extremely hard to describe to people.
I agree entirely. A lot of people expect depression to be a constant, same-level experience for an individual. Instead, it fluctuates in a way that is hard to explain to others, let alone ourselves. Helping others understand is quite a challenge. I have yet to find the perfect explanation for others, so I just keep experimenting with words.
Stay strong, and be kind to yourself.
Hi John ...
I Suffer From BPD, Depression, Acute Anxiety Disorder, BiPolar, Anorexia, PTSD, Fibromyalgia, Recovering Alcoholic, Childhood Sexual Abuse / Torture Survivor And A Few Other Issues Too...
I Found Your Article Very Interesting ...
Unfortunately, I Am In The 'Depths Of Depression' And Have 'No' Good Days ...
Trying To Get 'Help' Is Almost 'Impossible' And So, So Frustrating, Exhausting, Overwhelming And More ..,
My Anorexia Has 'Encapsulated' Me, Within A 'World Of Sheer Hell' ...
It's Slowly, But Surely, Silently, 'Killing Me' And I Have 'Nothing' Left To 'Fight' With ...
I'm 'Tired Of Being Tired' ...
I'm 'Lost ' Within A 'Deep, Deep Darkness' With No Light Left, 'To Lead The Way' ...
I'm Literally, 'Clinging On For Dear Life' ...
When Really, All I Want To Do ... Is 'LET GO' ...
Thank You John For Reading This And Writing About Your 'Struggles' ...
I'm Only Sorry, I Have Nothing 'Positive' To Say, Which May Help You, Right Now ...
Except, I'm Here Anytime, If You Ever Need Someone To Talk To ...
I Really Do 'Understand' And 'Get' Where, You Are Coming From And What, Your Going Through ...
Sending Love & Mega Hugs Your Way ...
Thank you for your comment. I'm so sorry to hear what you have been, and what you are currently going through. It sounds very, very tough.
I hear what you're saying about how hard it is to keep going. I know it feels impossible sometimes. I have been in very dark places, too, and I know there are ways out. I'm not trying to be overly sunshiny and discredit your experience, but I'm trying to remind you that darkness isn't permanent.
If you are looking for sources of help, you may wish to check out our resources and helplines section: http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referr…
Be kind to yourself,
I'm fighting depression along with severe anxiety. But the fight is worth it. Just got to find your place in life. Some beer helps. Too much hurts. Jogging definitely helps. So does faith. Thanks.
Depression drains your soul and will. Got to fight it as soon as it tries to settle in. Thanks for article.
Hey there, John,
It absolutely does. Depression is exhausting, and the fight is worth it. A support system helps, and support takes many forms. In this case, my words are my support. Keep fighting the good fight.
Have a good day,
I totally get 'bad brain days'. Mine consist of slowed down movements, not being able to remember anything, sugar cravings which I usually give in to, and isolation with a lot of TV.
I would like to challenge your thought that you worry that people might think you are being dramatic by describing your depression. I have a different name for that. You are 'whining with a purpose!' What might seem like whining, or dramatization, you do for a purpose.
'Intentional Whining' is an even better name. Your honest descriptions encourage others to face their own symptoms and feel comforted that they are not alone, as well as prodded to face the symptoms and try some new strategies to less their intensity.
Keep up the good work!
I like your argument rooting for whining with a purpose. I typically do that once I have established a comfortable setting for that discussion, because catching people off guard with my blunt descriptions turns people away from any conversation about depression in the future.
Thank you for sharing your definition. It's certainly a good viewpoint to consider.
Thank you, Terri.