Finding a Purpose When You Have Depression

This blog post will cover the details of finding a purpose when you have depression. It will also investigate the dangers of a lack of meaning and the importance of finding one when depressed. Finally, you will find out several ways of discovering meaning when depressed.     

Finding a Purpose When You Have Depression

When you suffer from depression, you experience a plethora of symptoms that contribute to psychological and even physical distress. One such sign is a lack of purpose. 

Finding purpose without depression is in itself a challenging feat. When you have depression, matters get further complicated due to the accompanying lack of motivation, depressed mood, fatigue, and other depressive symptoms. 

With that said, finding purpose can typically ease your depression and enable you to get back on your feet. It sustains the treatment for the condition. 

Is that not interesting? Read on to find out more.   

Why Is a Lack of Purpose Problematic?

Having a purpose is the ultimate motivation to be actively engaged in life. In Dr. Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he describes how meaning allows you to get through challenging times and how a loss of hope is equivalent to a loss of life. 

He describes how his senior block warden tells him of his dream, or as he puts it, ‘prophecy,’ that the war and their sufferings would end by the 30th of March. As the day got closer, the battle was nowhere near ending, and the warden started falling sick. On the 30th, the warden became delirious, and the next day he died. 

Dr. Frankl uses this anecdote to convey that you end up succumbing to life’s pressures when you lose faith or lack a sense of purpose. It shows how vital finding purpose is to look forward to immersing yourself in life. 

Desiring a better future, someone to love, moving to complete tasks, and most importantly, a purpose in your life is vital when you are going through stressful situations. An absence of such factors can make you wither away and become lifeless. 

A lack of purpose can lead to various problems, including chronic boredom, rage, mental health disorders, and even death by suicide. Pleasure and power have started to surpass purpose nowadays. However, the formed two Ps are merely a means of escaping reality. 

Why Is Finding Purpose Essential When Depressed?

Finding purpose is essential when depressed for several reasons, like:

  • Avoid Relapse
  • A Sense of Fulfillment
  • Attend to Others
  • Feel Encouraged
  • Life Lessons
  • Self-Worth 

Avoid Relapse

With depression, a lack of purpose can lead to the possibility of a relapse in the long-term. Even if your symptoms are managed with medication and therapy, it is likely to not sustain in the long run. Deterioration cannot be easily controlled by medication and psychotherapy. 

Even if there are symptoms of low intensity, the chance of relapse is reasonably high. With that said, finding a purpose in and of itself is not enough. The initial stage is to manage the severe symptoms, while the next phase is to live a fulfilling life, which can be made possible by finding a purpose. 

A Sense of Fulfillment

Reaching a place in life that makes us feel like we understand our purpose, like what we want to do, what we need to do, and what we are meant to do, can give a sense of complete fulfillment. Additionally, gaining an understanding of what we mean to others can help achieve this fulfillment. 

We may be taught to fit into specific roles and responsibilities while growing up. However, our purpose entails what sits well with us, which may or may not align with these roles. Finding a reason will help you clarify identity issues and gain a sense of fulfillment.   

Attend to Others

When you are depressed, you are likely to be absorbed in your struggles and concerns to the point of being oblivious to others’ existence. You may develop a feeling that nothing apart from your problems matters. If you have a particularly horrible day or something goes wrong, you feel that your life comes to a standstill and the world around you is caving. 

The problem is such feelings do not stop with one day. You may feel this way about your entire existence. When you start attending to others and provide support to them while dealing with their problems, you begin to understand that your life is not in absolute shambles. Having a purpose allows you to take away your focus from your concerns and focus on others. 

Feel Encouraged

When you have a purpose, you experience happiness and passion that is rather obvious. It makes people acknowledge such joy. It is true that everyone desires acceptance and approval, and to be that we are worthy. 

As mentioned earlier, finding a purpose enables you to support others. People will encourage and appreciate you for how you treat them and the sense of passion and love you emanate. Besides, there is a chance that the same people you help would support you when you are going through a tough day.

Life Lessons

As you find your purpose, you begin to understand more about your life and that of others. You begin to realize your blessings, the things you do have that others may not, and how you fit into this world. When you have depression, there is a possibility of you being consumed by your negative thoughts and emotions. You may feel like you are the only one going through this.

The process of searching for meaning will enable you to understand how so many people are going through similar or even worse experiences as you. It will help you learn some significant life lessons. 

Moreover, you also learn the ways other people dealt with or are dealing with their life struggles. You can utilize such insights and knowledge to overcome your problems effectively. 

Self-Worth

Finding your purpose brings joy, passion, love, and support for others and yourself. The encouragement that you experience from others because of the consideration you express to them will foster a sense of self-worth. You will experience higher levels of self-esteem and have a more accurate and congruent self-concept. 

How Do You Find Purpose When You Have Depression?

To ensure you do not become vegetative or a passive observer of your life, you may wonder how you can find purpose when you have depression. 

Remember that life on its own does not entail meaning or purpose. You give your life purpose to lead a meaningful life and optimally contribute toward yourself and humanity. 

Using the following suggestions as a guide, you can find purpose.

  • Discover your passion gradually
  • Gain insights into your skills
  • Attend support groups
  • Have the right people with you
  • Practice gratitude 

Discover your passion gradually

When you are depressed, it can be challenging to understand what interests you because nothing does. Before learning about your passion, you need to know more about your condition. Acknowledge that the disinterest you feel is not because you are dispassionate or uninterested in the activity. It is because your depression is preventing you from experiencing desire.

When you acknowledge this, you can remind yourself of the times that you found specific activities exciting and enjoyable. Start rediscovering them at your pace and convenience. If you loved writing, start writing one page, a paragraph, or even a line. The next day, increase it. Doing so can help you reconnect with your interests or even help you find new ones.

Gain insights into your skills

What skills do you have? Even if you are not currently engaging in an activity that suits your abilities, assess your skills. Combining your skills with your passion can help you create wonders. It will help you begin your path to discover meaning. 

Attend support groups

Support groups help you acknowledge your need to seek help. It is a two-way street where you help others as much as others help you. It is not merely a sharing of concerns, but it is about acceptance without judgment of yourself and others. You learn to empathize better and celebrate each other’s progress. Support groups also foster a sense of belongingness and community.

Have the right people with you

Establish meaningful and emotional bonds with supportive people, spread positivity, and are considerate about your depression. Although socialization is vital for dealing with depression, the kind of people you need by your side matters more. 

Establishing and maintaining strong connections can help you learn more about yourself and others. It also provides you a sense of comfort as you go about finding purpose. 

Practice gratitude

Rather than viewing purpose as something that will be achieved later in life, focus on your current state of being and gather meaning from it. Practicing gratitude is an effective way of being present and finding purpose. Note down the things, events, and people that make you feel thankful. Make it a habit to write at least a few things you are grateful for every day.

Doing this activity before going to bed and reading them the next morning before starting your day is a great practice. It can lift your mood and help with your depressive symptoms.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Conclusion

This blog post detailed the concept of finding a purpose when you have depression. Further,  it provided insights into the dangers of a lack of meaning and the importance of finding one when depressed. Finally, this blog offered several ways of discovering meaning when depressed.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): 

What function does depression entail?

Depression entails the function of allowing people to come to terms with unachievable goals and alter them to make them more realistic and attainable. Another purpose could be to preserve energy during challenging times, which can be true for profound sadness and not severe depression.

What are some simple ways of finding your purpose?

Some of the simple ways of finding your purpose to live a more fulfilling life are as follows:

Understand yourself and your passions and interests better;
Surround yourself with positive, understanding, and supportive people;
Consider feedback and work on it;
Recognize things that bother or hurt you;
Be charitable with your resources, including money, time, and skills;
Meet new people and engage in conversations with them; and
Value the things and people you love.

What is the importance of finding a purpose from an evolutionary perspective?

From an evolutionary perspective, finding a purpose allows us as individuals and species to continue due to its adaptiveness. This purpose is associated with overall physical and psychological wellbeing. It is related to achieving important things together.

What does a life purpose comprise?

A life purpose is a primary incentive for living your life. It provides you with the meaning to get up every day and carry on with life. It provides a framework for your behaviors, ideologies, values, and making important life decisions. It directs your life and can even be related to your livelihood so long as the work you do is fulfilling and meaningful. 

What are some of the leading causes of depression?

Some of the leading causes of depression include:

Major life events;
A terminal illness;
Familial or legal conflict;
Abuse, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and even neglect;
Specific medications;
Loss of a loved one;
Genetic predisposition; and
Another mental health condition

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References

Bennett, J. L. (2020, February 03). Why Finding Your Purpose Is Important When Battling Depression. PsychCentral. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/blog/why-finding-your-purpose-is-important-when-battling-depression/.  

Folk-Williams, J. (n.d.). Does Finding Purpose in Life Help You Overcome Depression? Storied Mind. Retrieved from https://www.storiedmind.com/purpose/finding-purpose-life-overcome-depression/

Simonsomlai. (n.d.). The Only Post You’ll Ever Need On Finding Your Purpose! BasicGrowth.  Retrieved from http://www.basicgrowth.com/finding-your-purpose/

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