Depression can have a big impact on your mental and emotional health. Pessimistic thoughts intensify. Feelings of sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, and despair deepen. There is an ache inside that feels like it will never end. These thoughts and feelings interrupt your life and the lives of the people around you.
However, not everyone understands just how deeply the wounds of depression can go in terms of causing emotional pain.
A practical way to think about emotional pain is to compare it to physical pain. The different factors and symptoms associated with depression can create emotional bumps, bruises, and scarring.
In fact, emotional pain can hurt more and be even more damaging than physical pain. If it’s not taken care of, it can also lead to health problems like a weakened immune system, inflammation, or high blood pressure.
So, how can you ease the emotional pain caused by depression?
Consider a few practical tips for dealing with emotional pain.
Lean Into the Feelings
The human body is wired to move away from pain and toward pleasure. Emotional pain is no different. People have many different strategies for dealing with emotional pain. They may redirect it, minimize it, avoid it, internalize it, etc. Regardless, emotion paid does not loosen it grips when it is ignored. Instead, it is stubborn and digs its heals in even deeper.
It might seem counterintuitive to lean into emotional pain, but the more light you can shine on it the less intense it will feel.
Depression is the result of not being able to express emotional pain. Feelings are drawn inward, instead of expressing them outward and releasing them. Inward movement leads to feeling stuck, heavy, paralyzed, and disconnected from life. Outward movement results in feeling light, mobile, energized, and connected with life.
To begin, find a quiet place where you can close your eyes. As you begin to bring awareness inward approach your feelings with curiosity, not judgment. At first you may not know what you are feeling, and that’s ok. Become aware of the body sensations that are emerging. Does the feeling sit anywhere? If so, focus on that area. Notice how long you are able to sit with your feelings before you distract yourself. Ask your body questions such as, “If you can express yourself right now, what would that look like?”
Be sure to listen for the answers to your questions. If possible keep a journal nearby to record your experience.
The longer you can sit with your feelings the greater your tolerance will be, and the quicker you will be able to move through your emotional pain when it emerges.
Fighting Loneliness with Positive Self-Talk
Many people who are dealing with depression also feel lonely. In fact, this might be the reason you yourself are depressed, or you might isolate yourself because of your depression. Relationships and support are extremely important in everyone’s lives, but even more so if you’re currently struggling with overwhelming emotions and thoughts.
If your depression makes you feel lonely, you might also feel helpless, as though you’re not good enough for healthy relationships. This can lead to a lot of doubt and negative self-talk. You might think that you’re a burden to people or that no one really likes you.
One of the best ways to battle this emotional pain is to fight against that negative self-talk. Think of your self-esteem as a muscle that needs to be “worked out” in order to get stronger. Ask yourself practical questions to challenge your all or nothing thinking about your loneliness and why you feel the way you do.
As you continue to work on positive self-talk, make every attempt to reconnect with friends and family, even for short periods of time. Doing this will help you to realize that you’re worthy of love and have the ability to love others, despite your depressed feelings.
Healing the Scars of the Past
In a depressed state, it’s not uncommon to ruminate over things you’ve been through in the past. Thinking about unpleasant situations throughout your life can cause you to fall deeper into a hole of darkness. For some people, it’s even easy to make up negative situations and dwell on them.
It’s important to heal these scars so they don’t keep clinging to you for the rest of your life.
One of the first things you can do is to realize that you’re internal dialogue is far more critical than any else’s, and most likely you are the only one in your life who is dwelling on your failures. If you lost your job, had a bad breakup, or even if you made an embarrassing mistake at work, there’s a good chance no one is talking about it or even remembers it the way that you do.
When you realize that these negative situations aren’t important to other people, you can start to make them less important to you as well. As a result, you’ll think about them less and less.
If you’re still having a problem with these emotional scars, lean into them and acknowledge them. Remind yourself that whatever you are feeling has already happened to you and it can no longer hurt you in the way that it once did. Remind yourself that you are currently safe, and that you are not alone.
Acknowledging, instead of distracting yourself from your emotional pain can make a big difference in not letting yourself get sucked into the past.
Easing the Pain of Trauma
Depression can often be linked to emotional trauma. Maybe you’ve gone through a particularly traumatic event. Or maybe years of repeated trauma have brought you to a state of depression and anxiety.
Whatever the case, dealing with trauma can hurt and make you feel unsafe.
Everyone has different coping mechanisms when it comes to trauma, but seeking out help from a professional counselor or therapist is one of the best ways to get through it. A counselor can help you identify what triggers your pain and learn different ways to manage and relieve your symptoms.
If you’re struggling with emotional pain due to depression, having someone to talk to can make a big difference. Schedule a free consultation or visit my so we can get to the bottom of what is causing your depression. You can also visit my depression counseling page for more information. From there, we’ll work on different ways to find comfort and healing.