You Can't Hate Yourself Out of Depression

May 8, 2014 Erin Schulthies

Self-hatred is a common problem in depression but it's important to understand - you can't hate yourself out of depression.

I've learned a lot of things from over a decade of treatment for depression. In the long list of recovery tips I could share with you, the most important thing I've learned is that you can't hate yourself out of being depressed. It can really stand between you and your recovery. Hating yourself is no way to accomplish anything, especially when it comes to recovering from depression.

Often the first thing people think when they realize that depression symptoms are interfering with their life is, "What's wrong with me?!" Not what's wrong with my body, not what's wrong with the world, but what's wrong with me.

Then we think, "I need to pull myself together!" or "Why can't I handle my life like everyone else does?"

Self-Hatred Can Lead to Self-Harm When You're Depressed

Self-hared is a common problem in depression but it's important to understand - you can't hate yourself out of depression.

Sometimes these thoughts of self-hared can spiral into self-harming thoughts and actions. I've suffered from self-injury, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts as long as I've suffered from depression. I often used these kinds of self-harm to cope with my feelings of depression, but they only made me create more pain and problems for myself.

So listen to me say it again: It's impossible to hate yourself out of being depressed!

As children, we grow up thinking that the world revolves around us. It's the way our brains are built and so it's the only way we comprehend things. But as adults suffering from depression, blaming ourselves can be very dangerous. Mental health stigma, especially self-stigma, can really make it easy for us to blame ourselves for being depressed.

Loving Yourself Instead of Hating Yourself Works

For years I thought, "Yeah, yeah, loving myself is a bunch of cheesy crap."

But do you know what? As soon as I started even being a little bit nicer to myself, I started to get better from my depression.

It didn't happen overnight; I had to go slowly. First I started removing words like "should" from my vocabulary. I started reminding myself that everyone makes mistakes and that it's impossible to be perfect.

I started tolerating myself before I liked myself, and when I liked myself, it was only sometimes. "I'm okay at art, I guess," I thought.

The more I practiced liking myself, the easier it became. Self-loathing thoughts still trouble me every day, but I've begun to recognize them as being wrong. Now I even love myself enough to care about stopping self-injury.

I think of my feelings like little kids that I need to take care of. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, right?

You can't be happy when someone's being mean to you all the time. That includes you being mean to yourself. So if you want to get better from depression, feel happier, get more meaning in your life, you have to start being nicer to the most important person: YOU. Trust me, it works.

You can also find Erin Schulthies on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and her blog, Daisies and Bruises: The Art of Living with Depression.

APA Reference
Schulthies, E. (2014, May 8). You Can't Hate Yourself Out of Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Erin Schulthies

July, 26 2019 at 5:59 am

How is "instead of hating yourself, like yourself" any less useless than "instead of having clinical depression, feel happy"?

July, 26 2019 at 8:29 pm

Hello, nils. I'm Jennifer, the current author of the Coping With Depression blog. I believe there is a significant difference. What Erin is saying here is that we shouldn't blame or hate ourselves because we have depression. She talks about the fact that depression is a condition in our minds/bodies and not something that is inherently wrong with us or some sort of character flaw. We need to counteract our negative thoughts about ourselves with positive statements, even when it's hard. This is not the same as simply being told to just be happy. Thank you, nils, for your question. I appreciate your feedback.

May, 12 2017 at 2:07 am

Helpful ideas you have shared. I may help people to overcome from depression and other mental health disorders.

July, 8 2016 at 11:33 pm

I can relate to both Eric and Judy.
I've hated myself for years and the hate has grown much stronger of late. Telling myself something 'nice' won't work; I just don't believe it so it would be fake. This is how I am now, take it or leave it. It does hurt knowing that I'm hurting my family but I can't change even though I would like to. I've tried CBT etc and seen psychologists and psychiatrists, it is here to stay and that makes me hate myself even more.
I know the theory and I've tried and for what? To end up even deeper in the mire. I hate myself and can't shift that hatred.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 11 2016 at 4:15 am

Hi Audrey,
I absolutely understand the mentality that you wouldn't believe what you tell yourself, making it fake. I feel the same way. I ask myself to choose the lesser of two evils. Do I prefer hating myself and the anger/pain that comes with it; or liking myself even though I feel that it may be false?
I generally prefer the latter option, because it's not as harmful to my brain or my friends/family. It is a "fake it 'til you make it" sort of deal. If I tell myself good and nice things, they feel fake. But they are often based in some sort of reality. The more I say nice things and the more I practice recognizing a nice reality, the more genuine that reality will become.
Self-hate is on a scale. You may not be able to shift it off of yourself, but you can shift the level of hate that you feel. Hate waxes and wanes as you practice being nice to yourself. The days during which you are successfully anti-hate/pro-self-like will prove to you that it IS possible to not hate yourself entirely. Your mental health is a huge part of who you are, but it is not the only part. Acknowledge the good parts (no matter how small), and establish a genuine reality in which you can share a healthy life with your depression.
Tiffanie Verbeke
Writer, "Coping with Depression"

February, 19 2016 at 4:57 pm

I have been hating myself for 31 years, truly hating myself. I feel guilt for every bad or disappointing thing that happens around me to people I know well or even vaguely know. I know whatever has happened or whatever someone has or is enduring is ultimately my fault and I hate myself for that. I hate myself because there are people who love me so much and my self-hatred causes them pain because they want me to see in myself what they see. I want to, but I can't because I hate myself. Pretty tall mountain, being nice or saying nice things to myself...maybe.

December, 16 2015 at 2:22 am

I read your article. It prompted me to immediately write the following words...
I spent 12 years in the military and another 15 months at a forward operating base in Afghanistan as a civilian. I worked in the Pentagon. Shook hands with Presidents. Drank beers with the Secretary of Defense at the Christmas party in the Pentagon Press Room. I handed of the flag to next-of-kin at Arlington Nat'l Cemetary. I was a man with supreme confidence, good work ethic and sought jobs/challenges that served purposes much bigger than myself. After leaving the military I suffered through a long period of time searching for gainful employment, I began suffering from depression. Within a year my then-wife divorced me. In court she decimated my character, reputation and everything I worked for only so she could obtain full custody of my only son. I was a man who never had cops called on him. No history of violence. No criminal history. I was a good father and husband. But the depression is what drove her away The judge all but patted her on the back as he told me I would have to pay $150 for 3 hour supervised visits with my son twice a month..... don't worry though, I get to talk to him 3 times a week for 15 minutes.
I tell you all of this to help you understand that some people have put their absolute best foot forward in this world. They did it when they were motivated, encouraged and confident... probably during the best/healthiest years of their life. That's when I did it.
Brainwashing yourself into loving yourself and creating a mantra of some sort to keep validating that belief just isn't effective for most people. That method WILL ultimately fail you.
I can do no better now at 40 than I could've done at 30... no matter how special I tell myself I am. I loved myself. I believed in myself. I had confidence in myself. And in the end, those traits were irrelevant. They made me weaker because I believed those were traits worthy of respect. I believed I was a valuable member of society with a proven track record. We are fools (as humans) to believe that we are actually in control and that our efforts are actually valuable and/or appreciated or even needed. We are fools to believe our plans will actually work out in the end.
If you truly believe depression will simply evaporate once we start telling ourselves were good at painting.... or cooking.... or whatever it is you are going to use to alleviate the depression... just know that depression doesn't work like that.... not if your logical. Those with fanciful dreams/ideas, those that believe in miracles/magic.... those are the ones this article will speak to.
If you're logical though.... you'll realize u hate yourself bcause you've already given your best and the results are far from what you believed they would be. Guess what, you did your part for this world. Now it's time to do your part for YOUR OWN WORLD. Justice and good fortune belong to the wealthy. So, develop a "f off" mentality and live for yourself. You already took the high road and the wealthy put a pay toll in your way. Time to go off road on your own and do whatever you want to do. We already hate ourselves.... how much worse will it be if we just become selfish p****?
And for all those people who don't understand why don't "just get over it and stop being depressed"..... well, test drive my theory and tell 'em to F Off. Then tell them these exact word.... "If you had any real knowledge on what your saying, you wouldn't say stupid s*** like that."
Can't wait for your comments to come in. Stay Classy All You Sad B*****s.... myself included.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 17 2017 at 9:05 pm

Being selfish and putting yourself first is loving yourself, sounds like you've spent a lot of time sacrificing yourself to try to make others happy. Me too. Now just live your life according to your own needs. It's not so easy but if you do it, you are loving yourself.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 3 2017 at 12:18 pm

Exactly Susan. It's exhausting and heartbreaking and isn't something many of us can just stop doing because we know we should. So many underlying factors for many of us. I'm glad you've been able to succeed in this. My best wishes for you. It's been months since you posted this in regards to the other reply from Eric, nearly two years ago now. I hope you're both doing well. I mean that with all sincerity.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 3 2017 at 12:12 pm

Doubting you'll see this with nearly two years passed by, but I've just read this article as they re-post them often. I always read the comments. I can relate to your every single word. EVERY WORD!!! No, I've not had the background you've had, and you've had every reason in the world to feel the way you do. My life was much the same but on a much less grand style. Although I went through the public and personal humiliation and attacks by my now ex spouse. Narcissist extraordinaire, who successfully ruined my excellent professional reputation and succeeded in making me the crazy one. My only daughter, grown and I have three young granddaughters he poisoned me against. I've not seen or spoken to them in over 5 years. They live less than 10 miles away. I hoped the court would be at a minimum "fair" in our divorce settlement. Nothing was agreed upon. (He wanted everything), and to be honest got every last piece of "stuff" along with what I'd saved for my retirement. Depression has broken me, (prior to our separation), turn anxiety and complex ptsd was diagnosed during my divorce of 18 long horrifying months. That's only a drop of what I've endured. The only thing I'm thankful for is that I did petition to keep my dog. That's been 6 years ago. She's 8 now. Without her I can honestly say I've had nothing I would ever get out of bed for. NOTHING.
Friends and family have long since disowned me without as much as a single question.
I GET YOU, because in most ways I AM YOU, too. No pill, no counseling can help fix me or what's been done to me. Nothng. Yet I'm supposed to let it go. My daughter and I had the best relationship I was so proud of. That's gone. It's all gone. Love for myself? It's long since gone. Nobody loves me but my dog and I do thank God for her everyday she's with me and loves me. She is honestly the only living thing that does. That hurts like nothing I've ever imagined.
I hope these two years that have passed have been better in some ways. I HONESTLY DO!! Would love to hear from you here and hear you say things have improved somehow. That would give me some hope, in what today has become a hopeless world for me.
On a lighter note, I have to laugh because just recently I was asked why I wasn't scooped up by lots of men. I'm attractive I'm told. I'm funny and intelligent I'm told. I appreciate the compliments but that's the me behind the deepest pain I think anyone could ever feel through their entire body heart soul and mind. It's exhausting just having to be out anywhere tryjng to hold myself together after all these 6 long years without my daughter and granddaughters who I doubt know or care if I'm dead or alive.
I hope you see this by some chance. You're not alone. There are lots of us that the unthinkable has happened to. I hope if anything you've found some peace. I'm still working on that too. Alone. As always. My dog and I. Isolating myself to the point of agoraphobia. It scares me. I worry something will happen to me here and my dog will be alone until someone eventually finds me. Likely my landlord after not hearing from me for my rent. It's horrible to think like that but I've had to. He is the only one who'd wonder where or what's wrong if he doesn't receive the rent. The last thing I'd ever want to suffer is my dog, the only living breathing thing that's given me reasons to love.

June, 6 2014 at 5:10 pm

As tears rolll down my cheeks I'm realizing I may need to stop hating. You hit the nail on the head. You can't be happy when someone is being mean, including yourself.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Erin Schulthies
June, 6 2014 at 5:25 pm

Hi Gwen,
Thank you so much for your comment. Hating yourself is a hard habit to break but so worthwhile. You're worth it! I'm glad that my post spoke to you. You are most definitely not alone. *hugs*

May, 13 2014 at 10:11 am

Thank you for this. This is my second bout of depression and the worst. I dont like who I am anymore and want to be normal again and happy. I just quit my job because I had no support and management were accusing me of letting the team down because of panic attacks and depression. Supposed to be a caring profession (hospital) but they did not care. I suffered a trauma which they knew about but still no compassion. I would like to try and find a job now helping others with anxiety and depression as I feel so many people are struggling with these illnesses.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Erin Schulthies
May, 14 2014 at 9:52 am

Hi Emma! Thank you for your comment. That's terrible that your workplace wasn't more supportive around your depression. There are supportive communities and workplaces out there! I bet you'll be great at helping others with their anxiety and depression. :)

May, 13 2014 at 4:57 am

WOW, you hit it on the nose, I don;t think Im negative, but family and friends constantly call me out that im just so negative and it hurts my feelings and i get on the defense.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Erin Schulthies
May, 14 2014 at 6:23 am

Thanks for your comment, Andy! It can be really hard to both be honest with friends and family about how you're feeling when you have depression. One thing that helps me is to remember that feelings aren't facts. Feelings are never wrong, but our thoughts around what we can do with our feelings can really give us fuel for some positive change. It definitely takes practice but it is possible!

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