As we often hear from members of The Depression Project's community, when you're deep in a depressive episode, it's common to not brush your teeth. And, if you can relate, then in this blog post, we're going to share with you:
- Some of the reasons why not brushing your teeth is common - and understandable - when you're in a depressive episode;
- Three tips that can help make it easier for you to brush your teeth when you're in a depressive episode;
- Links to some additional resources that can provide further suggestions and guidance that may make it easier for you to brush your teeth (and look after your personal hygiene in general) when you're in a depressive episode.
With that being said, as soon as you're ready, let's begin!
The Reasons Why Not Brushing Your Teeth Is So Common - And Understandable - When You're In A Depressive Episode
When you're in a depressive episode and don't brush your teeth - particularly if you go several days or even longer without doing so - then it can lead to deep feelings of shame and worthlessness.
However, struggling to brush your teeth is actually a very common, understandable "consequence of depression" - and for this reason, it is nothing to be ashamed of!
With that being said, let's now have a look at some of the reasons why people often find it difficult to brush their teeth when they're in a depressive episode - as told to us by members of The Depression Project's community.
- When you’re deep in a depressive episode and consumed by, for example, negative thoughts; intense, excruciating misery; feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness; and any of depression's other debilitating symptoms, it can feel impossible to be able to attend to anything else beyond surviving. And, this can include what would otherwise be simple, routine tasks like brushing your teeth.
- Like we often talk about at The Depression Project, when you're deep in a depressive episode, for a variety of reasons, it's also extremely common to feel completely and utterly exhausted. And, this "depression tiredness" can be so overpowering that getting out of bed, walking to the bathroom, standing up for a few minutes while you brush your teeth and then walking back to bed again can feel overwhelming and unmanageable.
- Like we also often talk about, a very, very common symptom of depression is lack of motivation - which can make doing anything, including brushing your teeth, feel pointless.
- In addition to "depression lack-of-motivation", for a variety of reasons, isolating yourself from others is also a very common symptom of depression. And, if you consequently haven't seen anybody for a while and have no intention of seeing anybody in the foreseeable future, then you may also not be able to see any reason or purpose to brushing your teeth.
- When you have depression and are struggling with deep feelings of worthlessness and not being good enough, it's common to not feel worthy of being clean.
Three Tips To Make It Easier For You To Brush Your Teeth When You’re In A Depressive Episode
As difficult as it can be to brush your teeth when you're in a depressive episode, the good news is that there are strategies you can implement to make it easier. And, on that note, we'd now like to share three helpful ones with you :)
Tip #1 To Make It Easier To Brush Your Teeth When You Feel Depressed – Remind Yourself Of The Reasons Why Brushing Your Teeth Is Worthwhile
When you're deep in a depressive episode, then like we've said, brushing your teeth can feel pointless and not worth the effort. However, if you remind yourself of the reasons why brushing your teeth is worthwhile, then it can significantly boost your motivation to do so. In particular, in addition to the well-known benefits of good dental hygiene, brushing your teeth when you're in a depressive episode is beneficial because:
- You’ll likely feel more empowered and have a more positive sense of self compared to if you didn’t brush your teeth;
- You’ll likely feel a little bit more “in control” of your depression and of your life;
- You’ll likely feel more physically (and emotionally) comfortable during an intense depressive episode;
- Consequently, as a result of these benefits, brushing your teeth can be a small - but important - step towards climbing out of a depressive episode.
Tip #2 To Make It Easier To Brush Your Teeth When You Feel Depressed – Implement One Or More “Teeth Cleaning Hacks”
In order to make cleaning your teeth easier when you're in a depressive episode, you may also find it helpful to resort to one or more “teeth cleaning hacks”. In particular, these could include, for example:
- Instead of making a “special trip” to the bathroom to brush your teeth, you could do it once you’re already in there;
- You could use mouthwash instead;
- You could floss your teeth from the comfort of your bed.
Tip #3 To Make It Easier To Brush Your Teeth When You Feel Depressed – Reward Yourself
Yet another way to increase your motivation to brush your teeth when you’re in a depressive episode and don’t want to do so is to reward yourself for it. In practice, this could take the form of, for example:
- After brushing your teeth, rewarding yourself by doing something that you enjoy – such as watching an episode of your favourite television show, for example.
- Alternatively, a motivating reward could be something comforting and soothing in nature – such as having a delicious cup of your favourite tea, for example.
Furthermore, to make your rewards as motivating as possible, we encourage you to choose rewards which:
- Are easily accessible to you (given how "depression tired" it's common to feel in a depressive episode);
- Reward you for both short-term behaviour (such as brushing your teeth when you wake up), and also longer-term patterns of behaviour as well (such as brushing your teeth every day for a week, for example).
Additional Resources That Can Provide Further Suggestions And Guidance Which Could Make It Easier For You To Brush Your Teeth When You’re In A Depressive Episode
Like we’ve said, when you’re in a depressive episode, lack of motivation and/or "depression tiredness" can make brushing your teeth feel overwhelming. And, if you can relate to these reasons in particular for not brushing your teeth when you’re in a depressive episode, then we'd like to recommend three CBT-based journals that we think you'll find helpful:
A Final Reminder When It Comes To Not Brushing Your Teeth When You're In A Depressive Episode
Before we bring this blog post to a close, we’d just like to emphasise once again that:
Not brushing your teeth when you're in a depressive episode is an extremely common, understandable consequence of depression. And, for this reason, it is absolutely NOTHING to be ashamed of!
From the bottom of our hearts, we really hope that you’ve found this blog post helpful.
All our love,
The Depression Project Team.