Now and then, we quickly apologize for things that are not our responsibility.
According to Psychology Today, excessive feelings of guilt are an often overlooked symptom of depression. This is correlated with a constant need to apologize, especially to people in your immediate vicinity.
When do we feel guilty?
When we talk about guilt these days, we tend to dismiss it, often giving the impression that guilt is fundamentally wrong. Yet they are like little reminders that we have acted against our moral compass. Something we have said or done is incompatible with our view of ourselves.
This is why feelings of guilt are so unpleasant; they are the epitome of dissatisfaction with oneself. It is usually followed by reflection and action to avoid it in the future. However, when depression is present, these processes of emotional processing do not run smoothly. Depressed people are often unable to let go of feelings of guilt, even if they are not “objectively guilty” or the event happened a long time ago.
Depression can even distort our perception to such an extent that we feel responsible for things over which we have no control.
When “Sorry!” becomes a habit
How quickly does an apology come out of your mouth when you bump into someone? Are you one of those people who almost instinctively blurts out, “Sorry!”? Then you’re like me. Constant apologizing is also a frequently observed behavior among so-called “people pleasers,” but the driving factor here is not harmony but the feeling of guilt. This promotes “prosocial behavior,” i.e., “a voluntary act in which people pursue the intention of benefiting others.”
People remember best the things that are currently in focus in their lives. However, a person in a depression or depressive episode has a dense metaphorical fog in front of their eyes. They turn their gaze inward because they find little joy in the outside world. This is where our person begins to condemn their own experiences and actions repeatedly. They cannot release the negative feelings because they are in a cycle of guilt.
Realizing guilt in moderation makes us “better people” – at least in our own eyes. It allows us to feel instinctive (dis)satisfaction with ourselves without actively thinking about it. However, in extreme cases, depressed people with excessive feelings of guilt can develop problems with their self-esteem. Even to the point where their body is no longer perceived as valuable or worth preserving.
Why you should talk openly about mental health?
Depression is not only invisible; it is often even hidden out of shame. Suppose we don’t show people in difficult situations that it is perfectly okay to be in them and to talk about them. In that case, this shame will probably never disappear, and depression will remain a widespread disease.
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