Finding a therapist is exhausting.

That's why we vet therapists for you.

Find a vetted therapist
March 27, 2024

7 Ways to Beat Depression Paralysis According to Real People on Reddit

Katelyn McMahon
Registered Psychotherapist, VT #097.0134200
woman sits in bed with her hand pressed to her forehead scrolling on her phone; depression paralysis
March 27, 2024
5 min to read
Show table of contents

If you’ve experienced depression, you know firsthand how debilitating it can be. On top of the mental and emotional symptoms like sadness, hopelessness, and guilt, the physical symptoms can make it hard to get through the day (or even get out of bed).

And while it’s easy to identify what you “should” do to feel better, actually doing those things is a different story. 

That’s why we scoured Reddit for real, tangible tips from people with lived experience. Hearing from other people who have overcome their depression paralysis can be a powerful reminder that you’re not alone. 

At the same time, it’s important to remember that each person’s experience with depression is different. What works for one person might not work for someone else, so give yourself grace as you explore these coping strategies.

These tips aren’t a replacement for crisis intervention, either. If you're in a mental health emergency, please call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

Let’s dive in.

7 tips from Reddit on how to cope when you’re so depressed you can’t move

1. Do one small thing each day.

According to @coachstopsdrinking, making a checklist with basic tasks can help you feel a sense of accomplishment (even if you’re only spending 10 minutes out of bed each day). 

They say: “I’ve been there before. Making checklists with basic tasks to complete each day helped me out. I still struggle, like you do, but I have personally been able to make things more bearable by setting small tasks for myself each day. Simple as: clean off the top of my desk, clean one item in the bathroom (sink, floor, tub, etc.), do the dishes. It’s small shit but 10 mins out of bed is better than none.”

Read the full post ↗️

2. Cut down on social media use.

It’s tempting to zone out on your phone when everything just feels like too much. But when you constantly use your phone as a distraction, you avoid actually confronting your depression head-on. 

@BlindiRL shares: “I recently removed social media and deleted news feeds as well. It's helped me keep off my phone. I feel this so much, been there it sucks. Just hang in there and try and make small improvements every day to improve. Anything to get through the day.”

Read the full post ↗️

3. Get out of the house.

This is easier said than done when depression makes you feel like you can’t move. However, if you can get out of the house, challenge yourself to stay out. Go to the library, linger at a coffee shop, or sit on a bench in the park. The change of scenery may help you get out of your head.

@michiq34 discusses how this strategy has helped them: “Hate to say that I’ve been feeling it lately. On top of having depression, I’ve been going through so much lately, everything has become a struggle. … The only thing that has helped me with that, is just keep moving. I try to be out of the house from 10am till midnight. I also try to stay around people.”

Read the full post ↗️

4. Build momentum.

If you can get yourself to do one thing that feels somewhat enjoyable, you may be able to build on that momentum and start doing other things that can help you feel better.

According to @kirbyatemysocks, “sometimes when I'm feeling like this, a hot shower and some candy can help me feel "human" again and kickstart the "doing something else" process.”

Read the full post ↗️

5. Listen to a podcast.

Hearing other people’s stories can help get you out of your head. Other times, a good laugh can help you feel just a little bit lighter. Check out these podcast picks from Reddit users under a thread where user @hubrisiam asked for recommendations to help them break out of a depressed or paralyzed state.

From @FrankTorrance: “This American Life has many episodes that have helped me have a little perspective. Whether it’s realizing the bad stuff isn’t that bad, or that the little things do matter. Despite the name the subject matter is typically pretty universal and not necessarily about America. It’s just a very human show at its core, for all of its wit and wisdom.”

From @winnsanity: “Comedy bang bang has help me through some difficult times. It is absolutely nonsensical, and can make me laugh even when I'm in a pretty deep hole.”

From @idontlikecapers: “Ologies! Alie Ward is a great host and the experts that come on are typically awesome. I always learn something and it helps me forget about what I’m worried about, at least for an hour.”

Read the full post ↗️

6. Tend to your physical health.

Basic needs can slip by the wayside when you’re depressed, but trying to do something small for your health (like drinking water) can go a long way. 

Advice from @leebyron: “Mild dehydration is incredibly common and primary symptoms are reduced brain responsiveness and energy. A technique I like is to get a 2L water bottle (ie Nalgene) and use a Sharpie to write times on it. 200mL an hour for ten hours. Drink till you’re full when you wake up, fill the bottle, keep it by your desk, then try to keep up with the clock.”

Read the full comment ↗️

7. Practice self compassion.

Giving yourself tough love can be necessary at times. Other times, though, it pays to be kind (especially when you’re really struggling). Try to accept where you’re at without being too hard on yourself.

@CompetitiveTree2014 recommends: “You can't force yourself. You gotta just take smaller bites. How can you make the task easier for yourself? Maybe you just for example, clean for 1 minute. Set a timer. Or do one push up. Change your expectations about how you are going to complete tasks- our minds don't work like everyone else's. You gotta be sweet to yourself. Get more bees with honey you know?”

Get personalized support for depression.

You don’t need to struggle with depression on your own. Our vetted therapists are here to help.

Find a therapist today!

Need more answers?

Frequently asked questions

Why does depression make you feel frozen?

When you’re so depressed that you can’t move, your brain is actually trying to protect you from uncomfortable feelings. Our brains use fight, flight, freeze, and fawn responses as a reaction to difficult emotions or events.

Moving or speaking slowly (or having difficulty doing so at all) is called “psychomotor retardation” in the context of depression. According to WebMD [1], common causes of psychomotor retardation are

  • Biological causes,
  • Other medical conditions, and
  • Aging.

Thankfully, treatment can help.

Is sleep paralysis connected to depression?

Yes, sleep paralysis can be linked to depression. According to VeryWellMind [2], recurrent isolated sleep paralysis (RISP) is associated with mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. 

Lifestyle changes, like reducing stress and improving sleep hygiene, can help, along with treatments like medication and psychotherapy.

Start Getting help from a vetted therapist

Get help with depression.

Written by
Katelyn McMahon
Registered Psychotherapist, VT #097.0134200

Katelyn is a therapist-turned-writer with a passion for mental health. She has a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of England and is a Registered Psychotherapist in the state of Vermont. Katelyn has professional experience in aging care, addiction treatment, integrated health care, and private practice settings. She also has lived experience being on the client side of therapy. Currently, Katelyn is a content writer who’s passionate about spreading mental health awareness and helping other therapists and therapy-seekers Do The Work.

Reviewed by
Kristie Plantinga

Kristie Plantinga is the founder of Best Therapists. Along with being on the client-side of therapy, Kristie has had the honor of working directly with therapists in her marketing agency for therapists, TherapieSEO. While working alongside therapists, she learned about the inequities in our mental health system that therapists face on a daily basis, and she wanted to do something about it. That’s why Best Therapists is a platform designed to benefit not only therapy-seekers, but therapy providers. Kristie has a Masters degree in Written Communication and a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Music.

Ready to start therapy?

Find a Best Therapists vetted therapist.

Find a therapist
Show sources and research articles
  1. Lopez, I., & Sachdev, P., MD (2021, November 23). What to Know About Psychomotor Retardation. WebMD. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from https://www.webmd.com/depression/what-to-know-about-psychomotor-retardation
  2. Cuncic, A., & Lakhan, S., MD (2023, January 27). What is Sleep Paralysis? VeryWellMind. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-sleep-paralysis-6891255