The Uncomfortable Reality of Hygiene During Depression

Most people know what depression is, but there is something in particular we don’t usually talk about.
When we struggle with depression, a lot of things that used to come naturally to us may become difficult
or even feel impossible to do. One of the things that can become very difficult is hygiene. This is an
uncomfortable reality: nobody wants to share that they are having trouble taking care of themselves. But
there are little changes we can make to our daily routines that might be helpful for hygiene during
depression.

When we are depressed, we have to accept that we are working within the limitations of depression. A lot
of the time, although we are experiencing depressive symptoms (such as loss of energy, lack of motivation, low interest, feelings of hopelessness or irritability, and changes in appetite and sleep, to name a few), we are
still expecting ourselves to be operating at 100%. If we are practicing self-acceptance, we have to be
willing to recognize what our capacity is at any given moment.

 

Shifting the Goal Post

Given this concept, we can take examples of common practices to help with hygiene during depression. Say someone is having trouble brushing their teeth for the full two minutes every morning: can they try brushing their teeth for 30 seconds? If not, can they put mouthwash next to their bed and gargle each morning? Or how about someone having trouble taking a full shower: Can they take a bath? Or take a shower while sitting down on the floor of the shower? You
might be noticing a pattern. It’s all about saying “okay, what can I do” and allowing ourselves to move the
goal post to accomplish that smaller goal rather than giving up because we can’t reach the “normal” goal.
Something is always better than nothing.

Another thing that can be helpful when in a depressive state is building off of what we are already
naturally doing. Do you find that you cannot bring yourself to use your laundry basket, and a pile of
clothes is always ending up on the same spot of the floor in your room? Move your laundry basket to that
spot, or get a different basket specifically for that spot. On that note, do you find yourself having difficulty
folding the laundry and putting it away? The answer? Baskets! The point of these examples is to build
systems that work for you, and this concept can be applied to anything you are struggling with in your
daily life.

 

The Shame that Accompanies Depression

Finally, the reality of struggling with hygiene during depression can carry a lot of shame, which is an
emotion that is at worst, harmful, and at best, unproductive. One definition of shame is the feeling that
there is something fundamentally wrong with us. The thing about shame is that it thrives in secrecy.
Hopefully, by discussing this topic and bringing it to light, others can start to tackle some of that shame.
Of course we always want to find ways to help ourselves during difficult times, but we still want to be able
to move through those difficult times if possible.

 

If you are struggling with depression and are ready to reach out for assistance, please give us a call at 832-352-1600. You can also contact us through our website HERE. We are here to help!

 

Priscilla Buentello, LPC Associate

Priscilla Buentello, LPC Associate

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