Did You Know About Depression Flares?

Depression. It is said the third week in January is the worst for depression. I believe it. Also, I think once you have depression, a debilitating depressed mood can move in on you at any time of the year. Sneaky little mind trap just waiting to pounce and pull you into blackness.

What does an increase in a depressive mood feel like?

Fatigue! Fatigue is an excellent indicator of an increased depressive mood as is a lower back pain! Did anyone else know this? (I always have lower back pain when I am feeling depressed, I never thought it had anything to actually do with depression.) I just read an article on The Mighty where the author talked about back pain and/or neck pain accompanying an increased ‘flare’ of depression. The whole idea of a ‘depression flare’ struck me as well. A depression flare. Well! I know how to deal with flares!

If we experience flares from chronic pain conditions, why would we expect not to suffer depression flares? This makes so much sense to me! I have really been struggling the last few days with an increase in my depression. Putting this into a flare mindset has helped me greatly!

A flare is an increase in symptoms that is temporary. The comfort in knowing that you are experiencing a flare is that you KNOW it will pass. You realize what is happening and you know if you can just endure it, it will subside. Do what you would do for a flare and just get through the depression flare! Just get through it… endure it and remind yourself this is temporary. 

Now, as with chronic pain flares, if a depression flare gets too bad, you need to go to the hospital to get help with getting through the very real emotional trauma and physical pain a flare can cause. If you can handle it on your own, safely, then get through it the best way you know how. Have your ‘toolbox’ ready. A toolbox is a few items set aside that will help you pass the time when you are unable to sleep. Sleep is our most significant healer, but there are times when we cannot sleep. We must occupy our time as best we can until we get through this temporary increase in a very uncomfortable state of mind and pain.

Be safe, know your limits, and remember you are very likely thinking irrationally during a depression flare. If at any time you feel unsafe, call 911 and get help. There is no shame! Depression is a very real, and severe invisible illness.

IMG_0172~Kim

16 comments

  1. This was an amazing post, Kim.
    I’m somehow prone to forgetting my toolbox. And I had no idea about the link between depression and the lower back/neck pain. I’ve been having this pain for some time now (and I AM struggling).

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    1. I’m sorry to hear you are struggling, honestly, I am as well. I got out my toolbox and started to cope the best I know how. I also informed my hubby I was having a bit of difficulty so to give me some time. I think once I put together that this dramatic decrease in my mood is absolutely like a flare I figured out I can get through it… I CAN… you CAN too! This is a tough disease, this depression. Anything I can do to help, you let me know. ~Kim

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  2. Some great words of advice here Kim for anyone experiencing depression. So many valid points you’ve raised, it’s temporary, it will pass and help yourself when you can. Reaching out to others is good too. Warmest wishes to you x

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    1. Thanks, Miriam. Depression is a very difficult invisible illness. It is treatable but always throws you a curve ball… this past week that’s all I’ve been getting, curve balls! But as I understand it is now a flare of my symptoms, I realize this too, shall pass!~Kim

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  3. This is kind of long winded, but here goes. I have recently started seeing a chiropractor to help with my back pain. ( I no longer take any form of pain pills, but that is a whole different and long story) Usually, I feel almost pain free (in my back) for at least a couple hours after being adjusted, but only for a bit….anyway with all of the “alone time” I have had recently, I have noticed and actually felt the pain begging again the more “stressed” I became. ( I could feel it getting tense and tight again) I don’t have the answers to stop it, (as I have only just realized and confirmed it myself), but I definitely agree.
    Also, I know that I have never said this online ( my friends and family know), but 20 years ago I attempted and almost succeeded with killing myself 4 days in the ICU and a “stint” in the psychiatric ward I FINALLY learned to make a toolbox for myself. It consists of a list of friends and family that I can call at any time, a psychiatrist and a counselor that KNOW me (even though they only see me once or twice a year now, they KNOW me) and letters to myself reminding me that whatever it is, this too shall pass. Thank you for writing and sharing this Kim. It is so important to have a toolbox, and to realize that we are never really alone.

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    1. Wow. Thank YOU for sharing your story! I’m so happy you are still here! Depression is such a serious illness, literarily life or death at times. I was at that point too but a phone call interrupted my attempt. Six days in the ICU and hospitalization. I hope you use your toolbox when you need to. I like your ideas of having contact numbers and written letters to yourself in it, I am just so thankful you made it through that heartbreaking time, I will definitely cover your added items, phone numbers and letters as suggested items for toolboxes! Again, thank you so very much for sharing your story. ~Kim

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      1. TBH, I don’t know a single person that hasn’t thought about it, most just don’t talk about it which creates a stigma…life is hard…really fricking hard sometimes, and it’s important to have your tools.

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  4. You know, I’ve never actually thought of it like that before, as a flare of depression when things suddenly seem to get so bad. I’m sorry you’ve been struggling lately with this too, but I’m grateful to you for sharing this as I think that could help put things into a different frame for me (I think it also helps to remember the temporary nature of a flare, as you said). Sending hugs your way  ♥
    Caz xx

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    1. Thanks, Caz. I really felt a paradigm shift when I started looking at my feelings as my depression increased as just a flare. I use the word just very cautiously, as sometimes we need to seek outside assistance for these ‘flares’. Flares of pain, mental instability, and so many more diseases sometimes need to be cared for in an appropriate hospital… when we can be prepared and are able to handle these ‘flares’ at home I think it is empowering but also seeking help when needed is very brave. We can get through it, it is temporary, we must remind ourselves of this always! I am adding a few more items to my toolbox to deal with this type of flare! ~Kim

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  5. Thank you Kim for sharing this! It is amazing how much everything is making sense now. Both my husband and myself have not been our normal selves. I am normally a pretty happy and upbeat person but for the past few days, maybe weeks I have not been very positive! And oh my goodness the fatigue is insane!!!!!! Your posts are always so enlightening and really helpful. I hope you are doing well today! Much love being sent your way my dear!!!

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    1. Yes! Isn’t that a game changer? We have depression flares. It does not mean our medications quit working or we have done something wrong… it just means we are going through an increase in symptoms that is temporary. It is our job to get through it. I have started to add some things I like to read, watch, and listen to- in my toolbox. I have never been prepared for a depression flare… but I am getting ready. Again, the biggest change for me is the relief I feel when I can say to myself, this is a flare, this will pass, it is temporary! It doesn’t magically fix it, but it seems more bearable. Glad your days are turning around. It is just a matter of time. Glad you are back! xo~Kim

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      1. Thank you Kim! It is amazing how much of a struggle depression can be. I never knew there were actually depression flares. I get tired of flares!!! I think you are a truly amazing person with so much strength and compassion!!!! Much Love Kim!!!!

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