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22 of the ‘Weirdest’ Triggers for People With Depression

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Depression is a burden many people share. According to the World Health Organization, it affects  264 million people of all ages worldwide. Though depression is common — it is also incredibly specific. No two people’s triggers are exactly the same, and something that might help one person with depression, might actually be painful to another.

When we asked the Mighty community what their “weirdest” triggers were, some people told us their depression was triggered by Christmas, by birthdays, by spending time with loved ones. For others, they felt triggered by sights, smells or a song that brought them back to a time they would rather forget. Some people had triggers they couldn’t explain or understand.

No matter what triggers your depression, we want you to know you’re not “strange” and your triggers are nothing to be ashamed of. Your feelings are real and they matter. If something triggers your depression, remember to be gentle with yourself and take care of your needs in that moment.

Below, we’ve listed 22 of people’s “weirdest” depression triggers below. If any of them resonate with you or if you have something to add to the list, be sure to let us know in the comments.

Here are the “weird” depression triggers our community shared with us:

1. Birthdays and Holidays

“Birthdays and Christmas. Seeing people happy and enjoying themselves makes me sad because I want to feel that way. But my anxiety says, ‘Oh no you won’t!’” — Tanya S.

“Christmas, people drinking alcohol… spending time with people I love — just to name a few. Soon after the time we’ve spent time together laughing and having fun, I begin feeling like they only see and/or tolerate me because they ‘have to’ and not because they ‘want’ to. It’s so utterly exhausting fighting those thoughts, so sometimes I give in because it’s just easier.” — Aerin M.

2. Breaking a Nail

“My nails breaking. I spent a long time having horrible nails/cuticles because of my anxiety and depression so I started ‘measuring’ my health both mental and physical on how my hair and nails looked. If I at least looked fine, then I was not that bad. When they break, I crash because I feel like I’ve somehow messed up.” — Yoeli C. R.

3. Having a Good Time With Loved Ones

“After spending really good genuinely happy times with my family. I love spending time with my family. I always feel like it’s ‘OK’ to die after those times. It’s been this way a very long time.” — Megan T.

“Having a really good day with friends or family or even myself. And then when it’s over (sometimes even during it) I’m hit with a huge wave of depression and I’m very suicidal. It’s the worst feeling.” — Tyler J.

4. Being in Nature

“Things in nature that are beautiful and impressive. Like going on a nature hike with friends and seeing how happy everyone gets around a river and blooming flowers. I’m already so miserable inside, and seeing these things don’t make me feel happier like they should — which causes an even deeper depression…” — Darian K.

“Driving across or near any type of natural water — lake, creek, river, because it makes me think of someone who makes me upset and depressed.” — Mary M.

5. Talking on the Phone

“I don’t know why but it’s talking on the phone.” — Cindy S. H.

6. Relaxing

“Being too relaxed. My mind will say I am going to pass out and die.” — Natasha A.

7. Mornings

“Being spoken to in the morning if I’ve not had my four cups of coffee and five cigarettes.” — Lorraine W.

8. Shopping

“Buying anything for myself. It could be anything from a small ball of yarn or a new eyeliner or a more expensive food item — the guilt will eat me alive! I cannot work and I live with my mom, who also can’t work, so money is constantly tight/never enough to last the month of groceries after rent for two people, only one is on disability. Even if it is extra money, my own money, gifted money, whatever I feel like a terrible person immediately after I purchase it (literally as soon as I leave a store, I feel bad).” — Madi Eileen N.

9. Stuffed Animals

“Cute things like stuffed toys or animals.” — Stephanie U.

10. Music

“Listening to music almost always triggers my depression because a lot of my worst memories are tied to songs. It’s as if I’m brought right back to those bad times.” — Kaitlin L.

“Certain songs I used to listen to in high school triggered my past feelings of depression before I realized what it was. Now when I connect with the feeling while listening to the songs it’s an automatic trigger.” — Nina R.

11. Compliments

“When people compliment me about something they think I’m good at and tell me how effortless I made it seem. I just want to tell them how much self-talking I had to go through to overcome my fears of even just showing out there what I’m capable of. Also, a major impact of me feeling depressed comes with thinking how long will it take me to disappoint them all.” — Cassandra B.

12. Someone Else’s Break-Up

“When couples that seemed really happy break up. Gray skies. Seeing people smoke in movies, if they’re set during a time period when people thought smoking was safe. It makes me wonder what things we’re doing now that could contribute to problems later.” — Misty S.

13. When Things are Going Well

“When things start to go well, I always get really worried because my life has a history of really high peaks and really low valleys and any time I think I’m experiencing a peak I can’t even enjoy it because thinking about the ‘inevitable’ valley that’s coming makes me depressed.” — TJ W.

 14. Yoga

“Yoga. I’ll admit I have an irrational dislike for it, but every time it’s offered as part of a program I always end up super anxious and depressed during and after.” — Mark J.

15. Certain Smells

“Smells transport me to happier times, places that don’t exist anymore, days I’ll never be able to live again… men that I once loved to childhood afternoons with the long deceased… scent is such a powerful thing…” — Rhanda G.

“Certain smells, like the air freshener my mom used to use in the house, her perfume, the one and only kind she ever wore… She’s an alcoholic and was very absent most of my upbringing…. When I get a whiff of these smells, it triggers me and I feel like a child again, wondering why mommy’s not home taking care of me… I’m 30 years old now, and it still feels all too real when I smell those familiar scents.” — Felicia B.

16. Crowds

“Busy places, for example, when I attend my older two [children’s] school functions. I become very anxious, cannot think properly, become very annoyed and dizzy. Becomes worse in bigger settings like malls and food courts.” — Megan M.

17. Your Achievements

“Believe it or not, my depression is triggered by my accomplishments. I have the worst talent for making myself feel unproductive.” — Robbi C.

18. Watching People Hug

“Watching other people hug. I never had a good relationship with my mom. I love hugs, but never got them much. So I feel sad and bad memories come, I begin to feel lonely and unwanted again when I don’t receive hugs from others as easily as the people around me seem to.” — Jennifer C.

19. Loud Noises

“Loud noises. If I can control the noise, it’s good like music but otherwise it just sets me off in the deep depression.” — MK K.

20. Calling in Sick

“Having to call in sick or ask time off to see the doctor. I immediately feel guilt because I am sick and not able to show up to work or if I have a doctor’s appointment and need to take time off to go… I feel guilt. This guilt turns into depression. Then that rapidly cycles into more time off, because I can’t get out of bed or I am now contemplating how I can end it all and not be such a burden to others or my family.” — Kimberly R.

21. When People Want to Help

“People checking up on me or helping me because they’re concerned. On one hand, I’m so appreciative of having people in my life who care. On the other hand, I was raised to believe needing other people was weakness. So when people feel the need to spend any time worrying about me I feel like such a failure and a burden. Like I just need to be stronger.” — Jackie M.

22. Happy Endings

“Well, there are many things that triggers both my anxiety and depression, but what I find the weirdest are movies with happy ending, cause I always start to overthink it at the end and it makes me believe that I’ll never reach my ‘happy ending’ after all.” — Sandra M.

You may think you’re the only person who is triggered by something — that your trigger is unusual or “weird.” But odds are, there’s someone out there who feels the same way you do. You’re not alone.

If you’re ever in need of support, post a Thought with the hashtag #CheckInWithMe to get in touch with people who understand what you’re going through.

For more information on what it’s like to live with depression, check out these articles:

GettyImages photo via Kristina Syvenko

Originally published: December 13, 2019
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