22 ‘Habits’ of People With Depression and Anxiety

Danielle Lowe

When most people think of depression and anxiety, they probably think of the textbook definitions. You know, phrases like “loss of interest in daily activities” or “intense feelings of worry.” But we know those phrases barely scratch the surface of what our experience is really like. Aside from “classic” symptoms, there are so many different ways living with depression and anxiety affect people. There also may be some “habits” you developed as a “side effect” or a means of coping with depression and anxiety.

We asked the mental health Mighty community to share some “habits” they have developed because of their anxiety and depression. Here’s what they had to say:

1. “I’m a picker — my face, lips and recently my ear. I don’t even realize I’m doing it. Also I’m super jumpy.” — Meagan L.

2. “Not calling or keeping in touch out of fear they will tell me their own problems. Sounds selfish, but I then stress about not only my issues, but theirs as well. It’s too much!” — Tracy J.

3. “I can’t get out of bed till 11:30 a.m. or 12:00 p.m. I find it embarrassing to tell people my anxiety kept me up all hours of the night and I can’t wake up till I take my medication. My depression doesn’t provide me with restful sleep. I’m tired when I wake up.” — Rachel R.

4. “I have a tendency to be really quiet and not talk to people when I’m anxious. Some people notice and think I just don’t want to talk to them, but really it’s just my anxiety.” — Hailey L.

5. “Canceling plans last minute or making up a reason I can’t do something when I initially asked. I have a security blanket I’ve had for years. It is torn and ragged in certain places. People think it’s because it is old, but it’s really because I pick at it and fidget with it when I’m anxious or depressed. I’ve never been able to finish things. I have gone to school for several things, but have never made a career out of any of them due to my illnesses and fear of failure. I also pick at my nails or skin.” — Megan M.

6. “Going to the bathroom for a long amount of time, hiding away as you cry form a panic attack. Being depressed over small things each day.” — Lexi T.

7. “I stay on my phone a lot more than I should. It distracts me from thinking everyone is judging me and helps me avoid random eye contact.” — Megan B.

8. “There seems to be nothing I hate more on a day to day basis than hearing the phone ring. I literally cannot seem to answer any phone calls anymore, no matter who it is. I recently was reading about phone phobia, which helped me realize I’m not alone on this. I’m OK with texting and Facebook, but answering a phone call causes me massive anxiety.” — Omar R.

9. “I talk too much. I just ramble and say wrong words sometimes. That’s when my anxiety is pretty high. If the anxiety gets worse, I hide and withdraw.” — Rene R.

10. “Avoiding texts or calls because I just need time to myself. And then I feel too anxious messaging people back later knowing I ignored them, so I let things go till the next time I hear from them. Sometimes I don’t. It’s something I wish I could get past and knowing people have been inadvertently hurt by my anxiety and depressive moods is the single greatest source of regret I have.” — Brendan J.

11. “I take really long or frequent showers. Sometimes when my anxiety gets bad, I just start feeling itchy everywhere, everything bothers me. My hair touching my skin, the smallest little string on my clothing, dust, cat hair. I just can’t stand it so I go take a shower and just sit in there for sometimes up to 45 minutes, just feeling everything that was bothering me being washed away from my body.” — Jordan D.

12. “I just straight up zone out and I forget things so easily, but the worst is when I start panicking so bad I don’t recognize where I am.” — Lydia Q.

13. “Babbling, hair twirling, picking skin on fingers (subconscious stimming), rocking from foot to foot when in an uncomfortable social interaction or speaking publicly, doodling, snapping at people for seemingly no reason, being overly affectionate… Or the opposite… Not being able to explain the change, having a messy desk or car or not doing dishes because everything is too overwhelming.” — Kahli B.

14. “Talking really fast. Making it look like I’m nervous when in fact I just want to get it off my chest before I change my mind all together. Speaking up in meetings at work. People think I’m outgoing and love speaking in front of people when in fact I just want the validity that I’m doing something OK, the appreciation that I’m liked.” — Kylie M.

15. “Feeling stressful every time I text or have a texting conversation, and getting triggered when it gets stressful or the other starts making jokes. I just can’t handle trying to keep a conversation going on. Most of the time, I just want to avoid talking and texting and being alone.” — Minh C.

16. I count everything. I have my worry beads that have 18 beads on them. I’ll go to a building, and when I’m inside, I start to count the number of lamps and then calculate the number of tiles in the ceiling. When I’m really agitated, my family noticed that I’ll start fidgeting with my fingers. My journal is filled with numbers. When I’d take a bus, I’d note the time, the bus route number and the bus ID number. – Tracy B.

17. “Being on my phone and watching TV. Both are a distraction by themselves, but now I need them simultaneously to be OK.” – Kalene P

18. “I crochet all the time. It’s always in my hands. I bring it everywhere with me.
When I’m working on it, I don’t have to talk to people or at the very least, I don’t have to maintain eye contact.” — Sarah P.

19. “Walking around the same route. At work I can’t physically stay in one place. I have to keep moving. I don’t socialize with the other staff members and every time I try, I end up walking away and going for a wander on the same route around work.” – Carrie M.

20. “I can only eat about half of my meal at a restaurant. Any more than that and I start to feel sick and trapped. I eat the rest when I get home.” — Matthew T.

21. “Cleaning — and not just regular cleaning….cleaning with Q-Tips in nooks and crannies. It is something I can control when my anxiety is out of control.” — Ginny M.

21. “Procrastinating. I don’t want to seem too anxious to do anything because then I get my hopes up. Then I wait until the last minute and hate myself.” — Sabrina S.

22. “Anger. I can’t help it. When I get overwhelmed, I just get angry at everything. I also bite the insides of my jaw. It’s horrible and hate it.” — Jessica G.

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