Have you ever seen a pouting six year old child? They may have their lower lip puffed out. You might hear them saying things like "Leave me alone mommy" or "go away." Then their parents may try to talk to them a bit to see if they can coax them into a better mood. If that fails, they may just let the kid be for a while until they return to a better mood.

But what does your depression and a pouting six-year old's behavior have in common?
As it turns out, both of you may be pushing other people away without realizing it. For a six-year old, this is fine because everyone knows they're just a kid. But if you're an adult, people are just going to give you your space until you indicate you want them to come back. The problem is, if you're depressed, you may be responding with behaviors that continually push others away.

What are these behaviors?
1) Actively looking for negative feedback from others. A series of studies by psychology researchers shows that depression can lead people to solicit negative feedback from others. Of course, when they successfully get that negative feedback, they feel worse than when they started. For instance, a depressed husband may tell his wife that he's a failure at being a father. His wife may tell him he's a successful father, but his depression causes him to reject her by telling her that she doesn't know anything. His wife then feels hurt and stops trying to cheer him up.
2) Accentuating the negative. If you're depressed, you may be seeing more negativity than there actually is in a situation. For example, a college sophomore Billy who transferred to a new school begins to experience feelings of depression. His roommate Ken tries to help him by suggesting he talk to a therapist and inviting him to social gatherings. But Billy keeps withdrawing. After a long day and feeling frustrated, Ken snaps at Billy saying "Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get out of bed or get some help." Billy doesn't perceive Ken's frustration. Instead he concludes that Ken hates him. Of course, this isn't true.
3) Not taking constructive criticism well. Sometimes you may fend off criticism from others. But it may be the case that your feelings of depression cause you to deny the feedback or counterattack. Of course this leads to more negativity and rejection.

What are some ways you can stop pushing others away and start defeating depression?
1) Try cognitive-behavioral therapy. It's been shown to be one of the more effective treatments for depression because it teaches you new thinking and behavioral patterns that break you out of cycles of negativity. In addition a mental health professional will be able to prescribe drugs (or point you to someone who can) if they determine you need them.
2) Do something nice for someone else. Volunteering and helping others makes you feel good. It's a fact. Helping takes the focus off you and your troubles and helps you constructively engage in life.
3) Socialize. Depression can often cause withdrawal and isolation, so it's important to try and stay socially active.
4) Dispute your negative thoughts. If you find yourself having a negative thought like "I'm so irresponsible" then dispute it with reasons like "I'm not irresponsible because I pay all my bills on time." Psychologists know this is a very effective way to counterbalance negative thoughts about yourself. Hopefully, it'll help you to accept positive feedback from others more easily if you've been having trouble doing so.

Perhaps you've tried therapy and found it didn't work.
Oftentimes, depression is a complicated animal with biological and psychological factors at work. It could be the mental health professional wasn't right for you (you need to be able to cultivate a trusting relationship with your therapist). It may be that you need medication and therapy in order to stave it off. The point is, you have to be persistent. It's the combination of tactics that will help you in fighting depression.

Once you start breaking up the patterns of self-defeating behavior with some or all of the methods above, you'll find that your relationships become more positive. You won't be pushing others away with your depression like a pouting six-year old. And that's something worth working towards.

Author's Bio: 

If you liked this article, you may be interested in reading:
1) Why Changing Your Social Environment Can Help You In Beating Depression If You're a Child Abuse Survivor
2) Causes of Child Abuse.

Adam Appleson has been actively involved in using personal development techniques to promote psychological health and goal-oriented success for the past 11 years. He is the founder of ZenTactics, a website with advice written especially for survivors of abusive and dysfunctional families.