Ways out of the

snail shell

A snail always has a snail shell. It can retreat in it, no matter where it is and, above all, when it desires. People with depression have their very own snail shell, into which they withdraw. If a depressed person is in it, outsiders understand this as boredom or sadness. This is because the person behaves passively, thus uninterested in what is happening, which is interpreted as sadness and boredom.

However, it is precisely this interpretation that reinforces the passivity, which characterizes the person, since there is often no adequate communication with him or her. This, in turn, leads to more passivity, to the person withdrawing further and further into the snail shell. The vicious circle of depression has begun. Nevertheless, how can a person leave their snail shell again? Which ways are there to break out of it?

These are not so easy to find. Negative thoughts always lead to behavioral changes in the context of a depression. This leads to the person withdrawing into themselves. 

One simply wants to be alone more often. Social contacts suffer from this; the person meets fewer friends and has less time for hobbies. In general, the person does much less. Exactly because of this, the individual experiences less self-affirmation. The feeling of being an active and lively part of a community diminishes. This, in turn, increases the need to retreat into one’s own “snail shell”. Yet, how can someone break out of it?

That is not so easy. Even if it seems easy to outsiders. Statements, such as “Just go out and have fun. Do something with others and then you’ll be in a better mood again!” do not work. They can even be rather counterproductive, even if the direction is right. This is because it is assumed that there is a connection between the mood and the extent of the activities. So the more a person does, the better their mood is.

Thus, it is not surprising that therapeutic approaches are usually aimed at promoting contact with others and (re)starting activities. This can only work, however, if the person concerned is not already too deep inside the snail shell. If this is the case, social skills must first be promoted and strengthened. At this point, exercises designed to boost self-confidence can help.

If this improves, social contacts are usually resumed gradually and naturally. Boosting self-confidence sounds easy, but it is not. This is precisely why appropriately trained professionals should always be called in.

However, in general, once a person has developed a depression, it is difficult to “get out” of it. Therefore, they must always prevent it and that means not beginning to develop negative patterns of thought and behavior in the first place!

Social contacts are the alpha and omega, but again they are not everything. It is important for an individual to become aware of their ways of thinking and acting and to actively counteract them when they drift off into negative paths. A list of very personal goals can help. The list should not be too full though!

Goals should always be realistic. If there are too many and they cannot be achieved, it is only demotivating and counterproductive. Rather a short list, but more detailed; don’t just write down a goal, but also the steps leading to it. Then, it automatically becomes clear what has already been achieved. This motivates and, thus, prevents negative ways of thinking and acting.