When you have depression, many of the symptoms don’t feel or look comfortable from the outside. Hypersomnia/insomnia, dulled feelings, beloved activities losing their luster, feeling lost and low, fatigue, brain fog– the list goes on. Depression dulls your ability to feel pleasure– so why does it feel comfortable to some people? While the assertion that depression is comfortable may appear counterintuitive, it is crucial to recognize that depression’s apparent comfort is rooted in complex psychological and emotional dynamics.
The Comfort of an Answer
For many people, the serious symptoms of depression appear long before a diagnosis. For some people, it can take years before they get an actual diagnosis. Just having an answer, even if it’s a difficult answer to live with, can be relieving and comfortable. Instead of just “feeling bad,” having a clinical answer can make symptoms easier to understand and live with. Having a known mental illness can make it easier to accept the symptoms and limitations that depression can impose on you, and that can be extremely comforting.
The Comfort of a Routine
One of the reasons why depression may seem comfortable is the familiarity of its routine. When you experience depression, daily life can become highly predictable, as the emotional numbing and withdrawal from activities often result in a limited range of experiences. This predictability can provide a sense of security, as you know what to expect, even if those expectations involve negative emotions.
The Comfort of Low Expectations
Depression often leads to a pessimistic outlook on life, characterized by low expectations and a sense of hopelessness. While this mindset can be profoundly limiting, it can also create a certain form of comfort, since it allows you to perceive fewer opportunities for failure or disappointment.
This low-expectation comfort zone can be particularly seductive because it avoids the anxiety associated with pursuing goals or taking risks. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, reinforcing the belief that nothing better is attainable.
The Comfort of Stability
Change, even positive change, can be daunting and trigger anxiety for some individuals with depression. The comfort of depression lies in its constancy; it is a known and familiar state of being. More importantly, it’s stable. Living with depression means living with internal instability. Mood swings and changes in symptom intensity can be destabilizing to a person’s emotional state, and many people with depression desperately want something stable to cling to– even if it means not dealing with symptoms.
Stepping out of this comfort zone and seeking treatment or making lifestyle changes can be terrifying because it introduces the unknown. The fear of change can lead to a sense of inertia, where you remain in your depressive state because it is what you know, despite the suffering it entails.
The Comfort of Isolation
A common feature of depression is self-isolation. Depressed individuals may withdraw from social interactions, avoiding friends, family, and social gatherings. And while loneliness is an epidemic with severe consequences, self-isolation can be seen as comforting because it eliminates the need for socializing. When you are struggling with depression, socialization is daunting. It takes so much energy, and depression loves to lie to you about other people’s perceptions.
When you have depression, you often fear how others perceive you and think about you; there is often a dread of judgment and an expectation that people will look down on you simply for having a mental health condition. In the comfort of self-isolation, you are shielded from potential judgment, scrutiny, or rejection. The isolated environment becomes a sanctuary where you don’t have to face the complexities of human interaction, and when you have depression, that isolated environment may feel preferable to the risks of socialization.
It’s not just a song title. Depression often involves the suppression of emotions, particularly positive ones. While this may seem counterproductive to well-being, it can provide a sense of emotional stability for some individuals. In their minds, suppressing positive emotions can prevent the inevitable crash when those emotions are contrasted with the pervasive negative feelings that accompany depression.
This numbing suppression can create a distorted sense of comfort by shielding individuals from the perceived volatility of their emotional states. In their view, avoiding joy may prevent disappointment or pain.
Becoming Comfortable with Discomfort
Depression’s seeming comfort is a complex phenomenon, and it’s important to recognize that this comfort is an illusion. Depression is a serious mental health condition that can lead to profound suffering and adverse consequences if left untreated, so even though it can be scary, recovery is worth it.
Helping individuals with depression requires empathy, support, and a nuanced understanding of their experiences. If you have a loved one who seems comfortable with their depression, there are things you can do to help. Encouraging them to seek professional help and providing a safe space for open dialogue, are vital for recovery and well-being.
If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, there is hope. Reach out to the therapy team at Love Heal Grow; our caring staff of talented clinicians are here to help.