How to Get Motivated When Depressed

Medically reviewed by: Wendy Rasmussen, PhD
Thursday, June 29 2023

When you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, it can feel like you’re carrying a 100-pound backpack everywhere you go. The weight of this mental health condition often makes it challenging to stay motivated to complete even seemingly simple tasks like getting out of bed, taking a shower, or cleaning the house. In this article, we’ll dispel myths about motivation, how talk therapy can help with depression, and offer tips on healthy ways to get motivated when depressed.

How does depression impact motivation?

Depression can have a profound impact on motivation, often leading to a significant decline in one's drive and energy levels. It  can create a pervasive sense of apathy, making it challenging to find the motivation to engage in daily activities or pursue personal goals. Tasks that were once routine or enjoyable may suddenly feel overwhelming or uninteresting.

Depression affects the brain's reward system, causing a disruption in the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are responsible for regulating mood and motivation. This imbalance can result in a loss of interest and pleasure in activities, making it difficult to find the motivation to initiate or sustain them.

How to get motivated when depressed 

Don’t wait for motivation to start doing things. Motivation is often the result of taking action, not the cause of it. Once a task is started, it is easier to continue moving it forward. Remembering this can inspire us to take action, especially when we don’t necessarily feel like it.

1. Break tasks into smaller steps. Large tasks, like going to the gym, can feel overwhelming — breaking it into smaller steps like getting dressed in workout clothes, and then getting into your car, are smaller and more manageable when you’re trying to stay motivated.

2. Celebrate small victories. Be sure to acknowledge and celebrate even the smallest victories. Give yourself credit for the progress you make, no matter how small it may seem!

3. Establish a routine. Establishing a daily routine can provide structure and stability, which can be helpful when motivation is low. Include activities that you enjoy and promote your well-being, even if they are simple activities like taking a shower, going for a short walk, or engaging in a creative hobby.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to a mental health professional such as a therapist or counselor who can provide guidance and support tailored to your specific needs. SonderMind has therapists available right now –  answer a few questions to be connected with one in as little as 48 hours.

How talk therapy helps with depression 

There are many different kinds of talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, that can help with the treatment of depression. Some forms of talk therapy, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), are designed to help you identify and change thought patterns and beliefs that interfere with your quality of life. 

Talk therapy is usually done with a licensed mental health professional, such as a licensed therapist. Talk therapy can help you cope with and ease depression symptoms and the lack of motivation that may come with depression. It can also help you: 

  • Adjust to a crisis or challenging life event 
  • Find better ways to cope and solve problems
  • Regain a sense of control in your life

There are many different types of talk therapy that may benefit someone experiencing depression, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Exposure Therapy, or Interpersonal Therapy (IPT). The talk therapy that’s right for you will depend on your unique needs. 

Remember, therapy is a journey, and it takes time to master the skills you’ll learn with the help of your therapist. Tracking your progress is essential to understanding how you’re doing – whether you’re making progress toward your reaching your goals or whether there are some hiccups along the way, which is normal. That’s why SonderMind therapists are equipped with Clinical Questionnaires (CQs), like the PHQ-9 for depression, to help better tailor care to each individual's unique needs.

SonderMind can connect you with licensed therapist

Depression may make you feel like you don’t want to do anything. But that does not have to be the case. A mental health professional can help you put together a plan to get you back on track and find ways to get you motivated to do things that you used to enjoy. 

If you feel that talk therapy might be right for you, SonderMind can connect you with a licensed mental health professional who can help you manage symptoms of depression and find ways to get back your motivation. Just answer a few questions and we’ll connect you to a therapist in under 48 hours.

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