Depression and anxiety are the two categories of mood disorders. Generally speaking, people who are “depressed” are downhearted or blue; they find little pleasure in life; and they go in slow-motion; they want to isolate. People who are anxious are in a state of alarm—they are worried or agitated, they may keep going over the same thought repeatedly. If you have some sort of depression or anxiety disorder, you probably experience periods when you wish you could control your feelings—stop the pain—and start feeling better.

To clarify what behaviors are necessary in order to get better, this blog is going to look at just the opposite: How to stay depressed and anxious. A major step forward in recovery is being able to identify which behaviors are maintaining the illness.

So How do I Stay Depressed and Anxious?

It’s not hard at all to stay depressed and anxious. All you have to do is the thing that feels “natural”. For example, many of the symptoms of depression—such as the urge to isolate, think morbid thoughts, guilt oneself—are exactly the things you need to do to stay depressed. The same with anxiety—worry excessively, avoid your fears, obsess about things you cannot control. Recovery requires us to swim upstream against the current such that at first it feels they are doing something “unnatural.” Here is a list of five of the most frequent behaviors people do to keep themselves depressed and anxious.

1. Figure out who is to “blame” for the horrible way you feel.

People who are depressed or anxiety would rather not be depressed or angry. They often want to know who is responsible for their feelings, and will find themselves blaming either themselves or others.

One of the traps with using blame is that there is nobody you can blame that will make you feel better. Logically, if someone else is responsible for your pain, it may spare you some guilt—but that is no victory. On the other end, you also build anger and resentment into your relationship with that person. This may rip apart the support system you need to get better. If you blame yourself, you will get into the negative cycle of guilt (another way to stay depressed and anxious).

People with moxie mental health may initially blame others or themselves, but then they pause and realize it is getting them nowhere. Blame destroys—it does not empower. Moxie is empowerment. Instead of blaming anyone, look for opportunities you have to make tomorrow a better day.

2. Try to think through whatever makes you feel regret, guilt, or shame.<.b>

Regret, guilt, and shame are symptoms of depression. Thinking over and over the same unhealthy thoughts and getting nowhere is a symptom of anxiety (it’s called an “obsession”). Often, the circular thinking of regret, guilt or shame involves the words “always” or “never”. Here are a couple of good scripts for someone who wants to stay depressed or anxious: “I’m a failure. I just can’t get anywhere in life. I always pick the wrong friends.” Or “I’m never going to be able to stand on my own two feet. I don’t have any common sense.”

The style of destructive thinking goes in a circular pattern, over and over—like your head is spinning. It is non-linear—meaning it does not lead to any objective. If you are into such thinking, you are not using the part of your brain that can actually solve problems. It’s better to write the thoughts down, and then switch your thoughts to something else. You can go back to the problem when your problem-solving machinery is working. Besides, the thinking may become explosive and lead to compulsive acting out.

3. Be nice.

Whoa! This is not advice to be mean to people. Rather—it’s about the kind of “nice” that depressed or anxious people usually adopt—that turns around and blows up in their faces.

The kind of nice that can keep one depressed and anxious requires one to not count one’s own needs and feelings. Rather, emotional discomfort gets swallowed. The trap is that nice, depressed and anxious people are also human being with needs. The more needs are unmet, the more frustration is built up inside—until eventually—it blows.

4. Limit your involvement in challenging activities.

One who is depressed and anxious will usually feel “burned out”. The brain may feel exhausted, and really need some rest to recharge. It is wise to take a break to recharge.

But if “taking a break” becomes one’s lifestyle—than you will lose your vitality and vigor—and it is very hard to get it back.

The missed opportunity in taking too much of a break or too many breaks is that mental stimulation can jump start the brain and get it revvin’. Some stimulation can serve as a segue between feeling down and having an enjoyable experience.

5. Isolate.

Feelings of depression and anxiety often come with a desire to shut down. This may be a reaction to feelings of “over-stimulation.” Alternately, they may anticipate that others will perceive that they are not feeling well or would not find their behaviors acceptable.

Connections with other people, however, are almost as critical as food and water to our survival. Loneliness is a form of starvation. If we fear being overstimulated, we can regulate our exposure to others—put ourselves in social situations from which we can leave when we feel overwhelmed. We can give interpersonal relationships our best shot and if someone gets upset at us—is that really so bad? It does not change our worth as a person. Most people will be give us the latitude to be a little off our game from time to time—as no human being is consistently wonderful.

How can I use these tips?

One of the most helpful ways to use a list of tips like this is to find a time each time each day to compare your behaviors against the list. If you do this for a week—you will have a good idea of what you might be doing to keep feeding the depression and anxiety. If you are doing any of the things that keep depression and anxiety going – try doing just the opposite and see what happens.

What else might you try to alleviate depression or anxiety? Moxie mental health has discussed many strategies in past .

You can try some mindfulness.
You can try acceptance.
You can focus more on what you are good at—talents and strengths.

What do you do that makes your depression or anxiety worse or better?
I would be happy to hear your comments on this. Write to me at


Author's Bio: 

Katrina Holgate Miller, PhD writes about the strengths and skills people use to face their mental health issues with empowerment (moxie) rather than victimization.

She has turned her 30+ years of clinical experience with thousands of clients into stories and tips about how her clients were able to recover from mental illness and addiction and return to the roles they enjoyed during times of wellness. She is author of the website Her email is