Why Self-Care is So Hard for Those who have Depression



Self-care are acts we carry out to nourish our well-being.  The following is a list of examples of self-care:


  • Watching a funny movie that makes you laugh
  • Going to lunch with a positive friend who brings smiles and joy to your life
  • Getting a massage after final exams are over
  • Having a warm bubble bath with soothing music in the background


I often encourage clients or caregivers of clients to use self-care regularly.  However, when Depression is involved, self-care can be quite a challenge.  Common reasons I hear are:

  • “I just got too busy.”
  • “I was too tired at the end of the day.”
  • “I forgot.”
  • “Too many things happened last week and I just didn’t have time for it.”

The reasons above are legitimate.  However, research suggests there is a scientific reason behind depressed people having difficulties with self-care.  The frontal lobes in the brain are responsible for problem solving, judgment and reasoning.   Depression has shown that the frontal lobes are dysfunctional, so it makes sense that people with Depression struggle with self-care.  It’s not easy, but with some recommendations, depressed people can do self-care.  Suggestions are:

  • Take baby steps. If you have Depression, and struggle with motivation or getting out of bed, I’m not initially going to recommend you go on an all-weekend meditation retreat.  Instead, start out small.  Take a walk around the block.  Try deep breathing for 2 minutes.  Small achievements are successes.


  • Try scheduling a self-care activity ahead of time and putting the exact time in your calendar. It’s easy for me to not do something if I just say, “I’m going to watch a funny movie next week,” and not have any concrete plans or details in place.  However, if I purchase the tickets a week ahead of time and put it in my schedule, I have a higher likelihood of sticking to my self-care activity.


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