Low Self-Control Hurts Your Ability to Cope with Depression

January 25, 2017 Tiffanie Verbeke

Coping with depression challenges my self-control in a unique way. I have excellent self-control when I’m having a good brain day; by which I mean when my day is bright and my mind feels light and unburdened. I practice self-care even if I don’t want to and I do what I need to do without complaint. But when I’m having bad brain days and my depression is at its most extreme, my self-control disappears. I make excuses to let myself off the hook for not practicing self-care by not using self-control to properly cope with my depression.

Self-Control Is Challenging and Necessary

Self-control is crucial to successfully coping with depression. Bad brain days lend themselves to lowered self-control, but you can change that. Read this.Self-control is necessary in order to successfully cope with depression. I need to be able to regulate my actions and thoughts when depression is urging me to crawl into bed and sleep for a day or avoid eating, showering, working, and being good to my body (Depression Does Not Eliminate Your Basic Needs).

I try to push myself every day to work through my depression and to tackle the root causes of my constant mood changes. My mood changes are often accompanied by emotional outbursts and I lash out at my partner. It takes a lot of self-control to try to work through my mind’s ups and downs and the variety of intense emotions that I feel when my depression is at its strongest. And with my self-control as absent as it has been, I find myself needing to re-train my brain.

Self-Control Is a Skill that Takes Practice

Self-control takes practice and hard work. The good news is that because self-control takes practice, you can learn it at any point in your life and you can always get better at it. The bad news is that self-control is incredibly challenging and often involves moments of struggle intertwined with moments of success. Regardless, the work is worth it because better self-control when coping with depression means better coping and improved overall mental health.

Identify Challenges to Your Self-Control then Limit Your Exposure

It's important to identify the things that challenge your self-control and to pay special attention to your exposure to those things. I've noticed that while my exhaustion and my depressed mindset make self-control seem unachievable, there are also physical things that I struggle to control.

For example, I eat too many sweet things throughout the day and I am always using some piece of technology. I've gotten better about binge-watching television because I've replaced it with other activities, but I still constantly look at social media and drain myself of energy and any semblance of self-control. I've found that by limiting my exposure to these things, I am practicing self-control by mindfully choosing when to eat sweets or look at my phone.

As I feel more confident in my ability to control myself and as I stop excusing myself from practicing self-care at my lowest points, I can practice self-control on a greater scale. Coping with depression challenges my self-control, yes, but I can regain that control with practice and hard work. I know that no matter how exhausting and challenging it is to successfully cope with depression, the work is always worth it. If I can conquer my mental health issues, I can conquer anything.

Ways to Self-Care Before Your Self-Control Is Gone

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APA Reference
Verbeke, T. (2017, January 25). Low Self-Control Hurts Your Ability to Cope with Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Author: Tiffanie Verbeke

Tiffanie Verbeke is a writer who delights in thinking and despises typing. She gets fired up about mental health and societal inequalities and she finds joy in driving under shadowy trees, running when it's raining, and kids' brutal honesty. Tiffanie welcomes feedback, so contact her freely. Connect with Tiffanie on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and her personal blog.

October, 20 2017 at 9:22 pm

It has been so refreshing to read your blog and listen to videos. The subject of no self control is a major issue with my journey through depression. I have read so much about controlling thoughts, that my thoughts are not necessarily my friend but at times of depression that is so hard to do. I have also realised that when I am depressed I go online and buy so many things, they may only cost a few euros but it is a compulsion, I do not get into debt but I do feel the need so strongly to do this. Obviously the answer would be to not access my laptop but the need to do this is so strong.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 23 2017 at 7:12 am

Hello, I’m one of the current authors of this blog. I’m so glad you found value in Tiffanie’s post. Yes, self-control can be very difficult. I completely understand the urge to shop online. Can you make a list of substitutions you can make when feeling this way? (Going on a walk? Journaling?) Thank you for your comment.
--Michelle Sedas

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