My depression is making me want to run away (5 tips)

In this article we will be discussing why you might be having the urge to run away. We will also discuss how depression could be part of the reason why. 

Why is my depression making me want to run away?

The reason why your depression is making you want to run away is because you want to escape from the stressors in your life that is adding to your psychological distress, 

The urge to run away is a coping strategy that your mind engages with when the reality of your life, and your diagnosis is making it hard for you to enjoy life- so the thought of running away makes it seem like things will get better if you try to escape it. 

In brief, ways you can cope with this urge to run away include:

  • Reaching out for help
  • Reflecting on this urge
  • Clear out your space
  • Go on a short trip
  • Go home
  • Espace without physically running away

Depression and escapism

If you are depressed and you want to run away, it is important for you to ask yourself why or what is making you want to run away. The most obvious reason why you would want to run away from your reality is because you need to escape from the stressors in your life. 

Since life is innately stressful, coping strategies are essential to making it through each day. Escapism can be one coping skill.

The American Psychology Association defines escapism as,

“… the tendency to escape from the real world to the safety and comfort of something else.”

There are different ways to escape from a reality that we don’t like. Some people can spend hours trying to unlock the next level of a video game while others get lost in the black hole of social networks. Drugs and alcohol are also a medium of escape. 

In fact, a study at Duzce University, has found a link between the time we spend on social networks and the tendency to escapism. The more people spend time on social media, the higher their desire to escape. 

Your desire to run away from your family, home, friends, work, city etc- could be because you are finding your present reality overwhelming. It could be because the relationships around you are toxic and even abusive. 

It is normal to feel like you want to drop everything and everyone and run away- to save yourself. Escapism and running away is a mechanism to protect ourselves from the stressors we feel ill equipped to deal with.

So don’t beat yourself up for it and instead let us take a moment to understand how escapism can become problematic so that we can attempt to mindfully engage in giving ourselves breaks and the escape we need.

Issues with Escapism

Sigmund Freud, one of the pioneers of studying the human psyche, believed that the desire to escape is part of the human condition. We all feel the need to change, disconnect, and restart. 

We might do it in the form of vacations, changing numbers, changing cities or jobs. Our form of escape could also be thought books, movies, or social media. 

The desire to escape, in itself, is neither good nor bad. In some cases the function of escapist strategies is to allow us to better deal with a world that is too overwhelming. In fact, taking mindful breaks and relaxing is deemed healthy by experts. 

However some escape strategies such as substance use, can become dangerous and create an entirely new problem.

Also, when escapism becomes the solution to an issue instead of a break to recuperate, think, and problem solve- it can become a much greater problem. In fact, it can develop a sense of hopelessness that might aggravate your depression.

The Positive And Negative Aspects Of Running Away 

Running away is a cry for help and comes once someone one feels they have reached their breaking point due to burnout, extreme stress, or a seeming lack of options. 

While young people may believe that running away will solve their problems and provide relief, in many circumstances, running away has the opposite effect. Especially if they are emotionally vulnerable they might fall victim to drugs, prostitution, trafficking, or even death.

If you are depressed, chances are that you will find it difficult to deal with the pressures of living independently even if you run away to your dream city because depression will not go away simply because you try to outrun it. 

However, there are certain circumstances where temporarily “running away” can have upsides and benefits that may not be readily apparent. 

For instance, going on a weekend vacation or taking time to visit a new city can expand one’s worldview and provide temporary relief. It can allow people to relax, take care of themselves, and return to their responsibilities with a clearer head. .

Alternatives To Running Away 

Here are some of the things you can do apart from trying to run away.

Reach out

If your depression and the urge to run away gets really bad it’s always good to reach out to someone. 

Talking to a loved one, a medical professional, or even a stranger can help us sort through our feelings. Sharing our burden and being truly heard  makes us feel less desperate and less alone. 

Talking to them can also open doors to find new ways to deal with your emotions, depression symptoms such as hopelessness or feeling stuck.

Reflect

Take time to reflect on this overwhelming urge to run away by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is bothering/scaring/worrying me? This question is to help us understand exactly what you are trying to run away from. 
  • What am I doing that is helping me solve the problem? This question is to help you understand and evaluate your life- whether the choices you make are adding to the depression and the urge to run away and also if the things you are doing now to help you cope are effective.
  • What do I want my life to be like? Sometimes the urge to run away can come from not having a vision that can keep you focused. Asking yourself this can help you clarify goals to work on.
  • What can I do today to achieve my goals? This question can help you come up with a plan to focus on things apart from the fears and anxieties you might have.

Clear out your space

It’s very easy to let stuff build up and as well as filling up our living space when you are depressed because of the fatigue and the emotional weight that you carry. 

 It can reach the point where we need to get away from it all. Having a really good decluttering can really boost our mood and Sitting in a clearer space can help to clear our minds. 

You can ask a friend to help you out if you think that the task is impossible, you can even break up the task into smaller tasks like clearing a cabinet today and then your jewelry box tomorrow. 

Go on a day trip

Going on a day trip away from our current reality can sometimes be just what you need. Take a short trip to the beach, the camping site, or to a nearby city that you have been planning to visit. 

Take a friend with you or you can go alone to really take in the sights and the experience in your own time and at your own pace. 

Go home

When you need that break, going back home- wherever home might be- can be what you need. If you live away from your childhood home or your family it could be time for you to head back home to spend time with the ones who love us unconditionally. 

Home could also be elsewhere- It might be the place we grew up, or the place we felt happiest in our lives. 

Escape

Often the urge to run away is down to a longing to escape the reality that comes with being depressed. You might want to run away from the mountain work left unfinished because you are too tired or because you are unable to focus. 

There are lots of ways that we can escape without physically running away. Books can transport us to another world. Some of us might prefer to  play computer games or lose ourselves in a film; while others may get ‘lost’ in creative activities.

Conclusion

In this article we have discussed some reasons why you might have the urge to run away and what it means. We have also touched upon escapism and how depression can lead to the desire to escape.

References

www.fortbehavioral.com

www.mentalhelp.net

https://dictionary.apa.org/escapism

Frequently asked questions related to “My depression is making me want to run away”

Why is it illegal to run away?

The question of whether running away is a crime or not can differ according to state laws. It may not be illegal however it could be an offense if you are a minor even if you cannot get arrested or charged with a crime for running away from your family. 

Is it safe to run away?

Running away is never a completely safe thing to do especially when you are a minor. If you are under stress at home, taking a moment to think about safer options can be a better way to deal with the stress. 

You can choose to talk to a friend about your distress or another trusted adult such as the school counsellor at school about the issues you are struggling with which makes you want to run away. .

Why do kids run away?

Children are often running away from problems at home or at school. Kids who run away often are found to be dealing with very serious issues at home, such as neglect, drug and alcohol addiction (their own or their parents’), mental health problems, violence and abuse. 

Is it OK to run away from home?

It is never okay to run away from home even if that might seem the best option for you because running away can be unsafe, especially if you don’t have somewhere safe to go. 

If it is absolutely necessary that you leave your home, you can consider seeking out help from trusted friends or family to help you find safe solutions. 

Does anxiety make you want to run away?

Anxiety is a response to a perceived threat- actual or not. One of the most common reactions to anxiety is to avoid the situation.

This is because, people often associate these anxiety inducing situations with possible negative outcomes even if there is no evidence for it. 

Avoiding the situation gives them momentary relief which allows avoidance to become a pattern, resulting in them wanting to run away whenever they feel threatened. 

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