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When depressed, why do the smallest of things sometimes just send you into this downward spiral that won't stop?

27 Answers
Last Updated: 06/15/2020 at 4:09pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Jill Kapil, PsyD


I have over 8 years of clinical experience, specialize in anxiety, and am passionate about my work. My approach is collaborative, empathic, supportive, and goal-oriented.

Top Rated Answers
February 1st, 2015 10:00am
Because the smallest things never feel like the smallest things. When you suffer from depression, things like getting of bed, eating three meals a day, and remembering to take your pills are major victories, so when you suddenly burn your toast or give the wrong answer in class, it feels like a huge failure. You make all this progress and then you mess up on something you want to perceive as "small" but that small thing really bothers you.
February 8th, 2016 3:17pm
Sometimes when we are strong for too long our "cup" gets a little too full. So that one little drop over flows our cup and we tend to breakdown. When we already down, that one little drop can affect us a bit worse.
February 17th, 2015 9:15pm
It feels like absolutely nothing is going your way, because sometimes you expect big things to have a variety of outcomes, but you seek comfort in routine things that rarely go wrong. When these routine things go wrong, it can feel like every possible thing is going negatively.
June 17th, 2015 6:00am
Sometimes, little to nothing can feel like a lot when you don't know exactly what we're feeling. The littlest things can trigger something so large and it's hard to explain why. It's just when we feel sad or numb, our body wants us to feel more so the triggers can make us start to feel something even if it's just more sadness.
November 17th, 2015 9:11pm
Depression causes an imbalance in your serotonin levels, serotonin acts as a mood stabilizer. Therefore if even the slightest thing triggers your symptoms of depression or sadness it can seem more extreme than it actually is. This however is normal when suffering from depression and nothing to be ashamed off.
April 16th, 2015 4:49pm
Depression is often when you feel like life is getting to you so much that you just can't help but feel like everything is going to make your life worse. You made a spelling error, you must be stupid. You accidentally set the oven 10 degrees too low, you must be an idiot. All the little things in life make you feel bad because you already feel bad and have the mentality that everything that seems normal to most, is the worst thing ever when in reality, it's not. Life is full of challenges but always remember that you're in control of you. Don't let depression take you down. Shrug it off and move on. Force yourself to realise how insignificant it really is by rationalising it anyway you want. Take control of your depression, don't let your depression take control of you.
August 31st, 2015 1:13pm
Because depression makes me incredibly sensitive and self-critic, and then I tend to perceive information in the most negative way possible - and believe in it.
July 18th, 2016 2:32pm
Depression likes to suck everything it can out of you, if it can find one little thing to overthink, it will. Then another... then another... Spirals suck. Just remember that when you tell yourself you're worthless, or that you don't matter, or you're not good enough, it's not true. Keep moving forward, you're a good person and you matter.
February 1st, 2016 8:03am
When you feel depressed, mostly everything is seen negatively and can break you down. I'm sorry about the depression you're feeling.
October 3rd, 2016 7:19am
When you're depressed, you feel things at higher intensities, you can detect a slight change in the weather like a friend died. Small things affect you extra. You're thinking a lot more in general and a single event might trigger you to just start listing out everything wrong, whether it has an immediate consequence or not. Try writing out every single thing that's worrying you and then categorize them into 3: work on now, not important right now, and maybe worry later. It might help you think more clearly.
August 18th, 2015 12:05am
Because when you're sad it's easy to get even sadder. In those situations you need to give yourself some piece and rest.
April 4th, 2016 9:56pm
When one is depressed, they are stuck with a negative mindset. When one is experiencing those negative emotions, the smallest things will make it worse or trigger a wave of negative feelings that will not stop.
January 31st, 2017 5:06am
Often times, when you've been struggling with problems for a long time, the smallest thing can set you off. And that's common! It's nothing to feel ashamed about. You've been battling your own wars for a long time, and sometimes, having to fight another war can be so crippling and frustrating. You're your own warrior; strong, and brave. It's okay to break sometimes, just as long as you get right back up! :)
April 29th, 2015 11:52am
Because when one is in a depressive state, there is a tendency to focus on the negativity of everything around them self and blame it all on themselves. With that, it makes a person more depressed and the cycle goes on and on.
September 1st, 2015 10:26pm
I think that when I´m in a really depressed time , I´m forcing myself to be strong and collet all the "water drops", but it comes a time when I´m really full and can´t take any other drop, so there I made a flood, and all the problems, and tears came real.
November 9th, 2015 1:26am
It's hard when you are depressed because the little things can combine and send you into a downward spiral that feels out of control. From my experience I've found that the little things - such as spilling a glass of water or not getting up in time- trigger the underlying feeling/experience of depression. Over time I've found that being mindful and acknowledging your feelings (rather than reacting) can help let these small things pass. It also allows you to be aware of the situation or spiral you are in and to acknowledge where you are in the present moment.
June 5th, 2015 5:38pm
Depression is a very difficult thing- Sometimes you are absolutely fine, other time you feel a bit low, other times you feel extremely low- And anything can sometimes set you off- sometimes, when you are upset or worrying about something, your mind is sensitive, and your sensitive and when the smallest thing happens, using the quote from your text, you end up going into this downward spiral that wont stop. Depression is a very difficult thing, might be a good idea to speak to your local GP or doctor for support and help on what to do. And hopefully you have your friends and family you can speak to about your situation :) And you know- Here at 7cupsoftea, we are always here for you.
December 15th, 2015 10:27am
Every negative emotion is heightened all you see are the grim things you see the flaws the mistakes and if anything bad happens no matter how small all this emotion adds on to it and you combust in a way
January 18th, 2016 9:16am
It's like the saying says "The smallest things make a big impact." I believe in that statement, basically due to the fact that as the little things pile up it becomes a huge mess to go through sifting through so many different issues that is not helping instead of one. In addition small ones stem from a moment of triggering and leads one mind to think of other occurrences when they felt this down. Hence thee downward spiral.
October 24th, 2016 7:51pm
Depression makes your mind work against yourself so the smallest things become very big, real mountains to climb. It's not your fault your finding things difficult, it's not you, it's your illness. Remember that.
April 11th, 2017 1:47am
Often, there might be an underlying issue that sends you into a downfall, but you see it as a small thing that sent you over the edge. If, for example, you are feeling irritable because you feel your husband doesn't do any housework and then you see a sink full of dishes, you might just break and get very angry. It's not the dishes that made you angry, it was the issue behind it. Other times, it could be just one thing leading to thinking of the other, ending up with you being depressed over many problems you're dealing with. For example; if a friend forgot to text you, it might lead to "She hasn't been talking to me for a while", to "I'm pretty lonely lately" to "no one likes me" to "I hate myself." Notice the patterns of what sent you into the downward spiral when you're feeling depressed, and maybe you'll find what the underlying issue is.
April 11th, 2016 10:11am
they become the last drops. trying to be happy from small things when there is a larger source of sadness in your life is trying to solve the problem with a solution that's not the solution to that problem.
December 7th, 2017 7:40pm
It reminds you of previous bad experiences, and the body is more and more responsive to the slightest stimuli triggering the state for the smallest of reasons.
June 5th, 2015 7:15am
because we can't think straight, our feelings takes charge and we usually think whatever negative thing we feel/think is true (based on one of 7cupsoftea training ;) )
May 5th, 2020 5:30pm
It just seems like there is one more thing that you cant manage. The mountain keeps getting so big for even the smallest of things. I can never get out from under it. For me, it seems like nothing can go right. Some times I have to remind myself to step back and look at how everything is. Not just the fails but the successes as well. For some reason, we need things that are good to be huge to make sure they can outweigh the bad. Building on the smallest good is a way to change our outlook. Also, ask your self from these little things that happen, how does that really affect or matter to me?
June 15th, 2020 4:09pm
Because we feel at times things are not in control. Depression is an altered state of mind when we are not seeing things clearly. Like a muddy pool of water, we need to wait for the mud to settle to see our reflection with clarity. Sometimes, it is a trigger of unresolved issues from the past therefore reacting without giving any thought. It does not stop because too often we may choose to dwell in the depression as it is the easier option rather than taking action to recognise and stop it. It is the little things that have the bigger impact on our lives.
September 6th, 2016 7:11pm
It´s as if those things remind you of other, greater things. Depressed people are very good at associations. It´s a human thing to dwell on stuff.