Self pity vs depression

In this blog we will discuss the difference between self pity vs depression. 

We will also briefly discuss if there is a link between self pity and depression, how one can avoid self pity and steps that you can take if you are depressed.

Self pity vs depression: which is it?

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The most obvious difference between depression and self pity is that self pity is ultimately a choice whereas depression is not. 

For a person to engage in self pity, the thought pattern arises from a sense of learned helplessness that feeds a pessimistic worldview about themselves, others, and their future.

A person who engages in self pity, is markedly someone who is so focused on their problems that that is all they see, and are oblivious to the positive aspects of their life which can help them overcome their challenges.

However, someone who is depressed is struggling with a mental health disorder  which is characterised by unwanted feelings and hopelessness that are not chosen. Someone doesn’t choose to feel depressed or hopeless about their situations. 

One can say that they are almost drowning in these negative feelings and though they want to engage in the world around them they cannot because these negative thoughts and feelings make it hard for them to focus on anything else. 

Depression is a mood disorder that can impact an individual’s life profoundly and cause diction in one’s ability to think, work, maintain relationships, and manage their day to day responsibilities. 

On the other hand, according to Amy Morin for Forbes, Self pity is a dysfunctional thought pattern where one takes a victim stance where they feel sorry for themselves and experience a sense of hopelessness because they over exaggerate their problems and underestimate their capability to overcome these problems. 

Self pity and depression are not the same however, a person with depression is more likely to engage in self-pity through process, and a person who often engages in self-pity is more likely to develop depression. 

In spite of these differences, they are both negative mental states that can seriously cause harm to one’s quality of life and also self esteem. 

Is there a link between self pity and depression?

While it is very common for one to engage in self-pity when things do not go according to what we envisioned, self-pity can make you feel like nothing ever goes your way- it can lead us to over generalise our problems. 

When we over generalise failures and set back, we tend to lose motivation and feel like there is no point in trying to solve your problems.

This can lead to a deep sense of hopelessness which when it takes hold over our lives- in every area- it can lead to depression. 

Self pity or ruminating in self pity can be dangerous as it can prevent you from moving forward. 

Self pity or taking a victim stance can drain one’s energy as well as prevent you from looking past what is troubling you- be it present joys, supportive relationships, or one’s own postive abilities- and this can lead you to feel isolated, weak, incapable, worthless, and push you into despair. 

Chronic feelings of self-pity are learned, and it can either arise from the stress of failures, change, or the need for validation- usually external validation. 

Self-pity goes beyond the healthy levels of sadness and when one engages in it- consciously or unconsciously we start to over exaggerate how big your problems are and underestimate your ability to cope.

When we underestimate ourselves, it can lead us to imagine worse scenarios and overwhelm us with the feeling that it is impossible for us to overcome them because we underestimate our strengths and abilities. 

When this happens, you feel hopeless about your situation and you feel like there is nothing you can do to get yourself out of this situation. This creates a negative cycle where you feel negatively and as a result think negatively which further feeds your emotions. 

At some point, yoru view of the world, yourself, and other people can be overwhelmed by your emotions and as a result lead to depression. 

How to avoid self pity and develop positive mental health?

Some of the ways that you can avoid engaging in self-pity and develop positive mental health include:

Building self awareness

According to the writers at Psychcentral, the best way you can avoid engaging in self pity is to take action to interrupt it before it takes hold of your thoughts. 

This means that you need to build self awareness that can allow you to identify it when you feel it coming on, recognise it for what it is, and actively choose to interrupt it with self-compassion and self-love. 

Practice self compassion

Self compassion involves the act of being kind to yourself especially in the face of failures, being aware of painful thoughts and emotions, and taking a positive perspective on negative outcomes and experiences. 

Self compassion requires one to accept that negative things happen in life, and it does happen more often than not. It is the act of understanding that these things happen to everyone as well. 

Change Perspective

Another thing that you can do according to  Hope Gillette for Psychcentral is to change perspectives. This means that you broaden your view from yourself to others as well. 

Remind yourself that failures, challenges, and negative experiences are a universal experience and that if others can overcome them, so can you. 

It means that you step out of a victim mentality and instead, understand that you do have the power and personal responsibility to change things around and improve your situation. 

Connection

Self pity can be isolating, and one of the major reasons why it can turn into hopelessness and depression is that self pity can make you withdraw from others and this in turn can make you feel more lonely, and your world view more depressing. 

What you can do is to choose to seek out support from friends, family, mentors etc who can support you in this troublesome time. 

Being able to make a positive connection involves taking a solution focused outlook instead of problem-focused venting so that they can support you in making solutions. 

What to do if you are depressed?

Depression is a serious mental health condition where a person who is affected by it experiences persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. 

Depression can make it very difficult for the individual to carry out their day to day tasks, maintain their relationships, and manage their occupational responsibilities. 

Here are some of the things that you can do if you have been struggling with crippling depression

Reach out for help

If you find yourself struggling with depression and loneliness, we urge you to seek support from a professional immediately. 

You can also reach out to your local medical service providers or a mental health service provider. If you are hesitant about reaching out for help, speak to a trusted friend or adult about what you are going through. 

Seek out  professional help

Depression is not just low moods, it won’t simply “go away”. There needs to be an active effort to work through your condition as well as pharmacological support that you might need in the case there are neurological causes to your condition. 

Talking to a therapist and engaging with them to understand what is happening to you does not mean that you have failed in life. It simply means that you need help like everyone else and that does not make you any less of a person. 

Understanding your condition, diagnosis and Engaging with a therapist, being diligent with your medication, and making the changes you need to make to get better will help you during this difficult time. 

Treat Yourself Well

While it might be hard to take care of yourself- you might find it hard to eat, wash, wake up, and do other basic things. 

It is okay to allow yourself to let yourself go for a few days but making the effort to stick to routine and structure in your day to day life can help you move forward. 

Taking care of your physical needs is very important as it is a way to care for yourself. Taking care of your emotional needs is also important and you can work towards emotional self care after taking care of your physical needs first. 

You can choose to make new changes that help you feel better or healthier like going to the gym, changing your diet to a more healthy one, going for wants. Sometimes change in routines can also be your way of caring for yourself. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed the difference between self pity vs depression. 

We also briefly discussed if there is a link between self pity and depression, how one can avoid self pity and steps that you can take if you are depressed.

FAQ related to self pity vs depression

Is self-pity a mental illness?

No.  Self pity is not a mental illness however it can lead to mental illnesses like depression. 

Self pity creates a negative cycle where you feel negatively and as a result think negatively which further feeds your emotions. At some point, your view of the world, yourself, and other people can be overwhelmed by your emotions and as a result lead to depression. 

Is sadness the same as self-pity?

No sadness is not the same as self-pity. Sadness is an emotion that involuntarily arises when faced with something negative like a loss or abandonment etc whereas self pity is a dysfunctional thought pattern where one takes a victim stance where they feel sorry for themselves and experience a sense of hopelessness. 

What is the root cause of self-pity?

According to Amy Morin for Forbes, Self pity is a dysfunctional thought pattern where one takes a victim stance where they feel sorry for themselves and experience a sense of hopelessness because they over exaggerate their problems and underestimate their capability to overcome these problems. 

References

Amy Morin. Self-Pity Will Drain You Of The Mental Strength You Need To Get Through The Coronavirus Pandemic—Here’s How To Avoid It. Forbes, Retrieved on 3rd April 2022. https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2020/04/08/self-pity-is-your-worst-enemy-in-getting-through-this-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-heres-how-to-avoid-it/?sh=7017298a6120

Gillet. H. How to Recognize and Redirect Self-Pity. Psychcentral. Retrieved on 3rd April 2022. https://psychcentral.com/blog/self-pity-to-self-compassion

Shaikh, M. (2021, February 24). Is It Depression? Is It Self-Pity? Here’s the Difference, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, April 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2021/2/is-it-depression-is-it-self-pity-heres-the-difference

Is It Self-Pity, Depression Or Perfectly Hidden Depression? Dr. Margaret Rutherford. Retrieved on 3rd April 2022. https://drmargaretrutherford.com/is-it-self-pity-depression-or-perfectly-hidden-depression/

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