Writing in a journal can be therapeutic, but it's hard to know where to start. Do you free-write about your day, your week, how you feel, etc.? You could... or you could use journal prompts specific to your mental health, disorder symptoms, and self-care habits that encourage you to seek wellness and self-awareness!
Depression can be hard to understand. When I first noticed my symptoms I had no idea that I had clinical depression, or was even feeling depressed! The thing is when you are depressed all you think about is being depressed. That may seem simple and even stupid, but if you feel helpless and numb chances are you want to not feel that way.
Another way to put it: it sucks to be depressed for a few weeks and it sucks to be depressed for years- everyone who experiences depression appreciates some alleviation or form of help.
What is depression?
"Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks." -National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Signs and Symptoms of Depressive Episodes:
Persistently feeling down, slow, empty, or numb
Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Problems with sleep (oversleeping, insomnia, restless sleep, etc.)
Feeling hopeless or helpless
A decrease in self-esteem, self-confidence, self-love, etc.
Retreating from friends and social activities
Low energy, or loss of energy
Changes in appetite (over-eating, under-eating, etc.)
Loss of motivation/drive to complete activities you want and/or need to do
Feeling careless towards responsibilities
Feeling emotionally numb, mentally foggy, or having problems concentrating
Self-harm, suicidal thoughts, or suicide attempts
As the writer behind Rose-Minded, I have depression, studied treatments for depression in college, and spoken with many mental health patients about what helps with their depression. Patients talked to me about their mental illnesses when I volunteered at a mental health association crisis line and worked as a behavior therapist. Mental health and psychology are my passions, as well as running this blog!
Now on Rose-Minded, you'll find mental health journal guides for specific mental health disorders. Guided journals lead to self-discovery and take the confusion out of starting to journal (like not knowing where to start). The journal prompts cover topics like symptoms and self-care to guide you through your mental health journey, with special emphasis on awareness and alleviation of Depression symptoms.
The mental health prompts are divided to cover different areas for those who still struggle with understanding their Depression and understanding themselves. Writing regularly in a journal is one of the best ways to learn more about yourself, especially when you reflect on previous entries. Try to go back every couple of weeks or months to read old entries and see how you've progressed since then. Maybe you've gotten better... maybe you've gotten worse, but you'll be able to start noticing patterns to help you navigate your mental health disorder(s) and well-being. These patterns are useful not only to you but for any mental health professional working with you to support your recovery.
Journal Prompts for Depression Symptoms
The mental health journal prompts are split to cover different areas of importance for those who still struggle with understanding their moods, emotions, and regulation of the two. Keeping a journal is one of the best ways to learn more about yourself, especially while you're reflecting on previous entries!
Use the following prompts from the journal guide to improve your mental health and understand your mind and its patterns. If you want to make or use bullet journals, try looking on Pinterest for some good bullet journal ideas! If you're not into bullet journaling, no worries. Include your response to the journal prompt as a regular entry in your notebook, journal, Google Docs, or random piece of paper laying around. Self-awareness is worth it!
Emotional Intelligence Journal Prompts
How do your emotions motivate you? How do they get in the way of things you want/need to do?
When I am feeling happy or confident, I am motivated to do more throughout my day and take better care of myself. When I am feeling hopeless or have no interest in things then this gets in the way of my self-care.
Do other people have an impact on your emotions? Who? Do they have a bigger impact than you?
It's important to pay attention to how much of an impact others actually have on your emotions. Sometimes we can't control it, but we need to be able to control our responses. Who has a positive impact on your emotions? Who has a negative impact on your emotions? How?
What have been some strong emotions in your life recently?
Have you been feeling mostly glum and hopeless, or content and satisfied with the way things are going? Write down all the emotions you've noticed within yourself.
Gratitude Journal Prompts
Make a list of people in your life you are grateful for. It could be long or short, and it could be continuously growing.
When we know who we have in our social support group, we feel less alone. Writing down these people also identifies who makes you feel this way about them, or who produces these positive feelings of gratitude.
Make a list of things in your life you sometimes have trouble feeling grateful for. Leave a space below each response in your list, then answer 'why' you may have trouble feeling this way after some self-reflection.
First ask yourself if these are people who produce negative feelings and if this is why you have trouble being grateful for them. It is okay to not be grateful for everybody. But if there's someone you feel deserves your gratitude who doesn't really get it, this could be a good way to realize this and show them some gratitude.
Describe why you are grateful for a special opportunity you have received.
It could be a job opportunity, a school opportunity, an art or writing publishing opportunity, or so much more. It doesn't have to be a big opportunity like maybe people at your new school/job asked you to eat lunch with them! Recognizing big and small opportunities we are grateful for reminds us that we are a valued member of the world and good things happen to us.
For the rest of the mental health journal prompts designed to aid the recovery of those struggling with depression or episodes of depressive moods, check out the Mental Health Journal Guide for Depression.
A journal guide is an important factor in the process of discovering your own strengths and weaknesses, which is also the first step to building on strengths and working on weaknesses. Reflect each week on previous weeks' journal entries and you'll learn more about yourself and your depression as you progress through the guided journal prompts over the year.
Before you can transform yourself (or just begin your journey to authentic happiness) you must know where to look for gratitude, how to be emotionally intelligent, how to recognize and approach your depression signs and symptoms, and how to take care of yourself in a way that works best for you.
Note: This journal guide shouldn't replace professional treatment. It should be used as a helpful aid in the improvement of depression symptoms and recovery.
Read more about the guided mental health journal for depression, here.