Many people may feel ashamed or in despair about having depression. They may feel embarrassed to admit they struggle with a mental illness because of the stigma and misrepresentation of depression within modern media, culture, and society.
In many cases, this stigma can prevent people from coming forward and seeking help for their mental health, which can have catastrophic consequences.
Stereotypes About Depression
Here are some of the most common stereotypes about depression that you may have heard.
“Depression isn’t a real illness.”
Depression is indeed a real illness that affects millions of people every day. It can be debilitating and take over your entire life. It’s not just feeling sad or down for a little while, it can affect all aspects of your life, including your relationships, self worth, career, and personal development. Depression is like any physical ailment that requires treatment.
“Depressed people are just lazy.”
Having depression does not mean that you are just lazy and don’t want to get better. People with depression would do anything to not feel the way that they do. It is a very real issue that affects the mood, self-esteem, and subsequently someone’s ability to complete simple tasks as they simply feel unable to physically get out of bed or get dressed. It can overwhelm a person’s life entirely, making it difficult to eat, sleep, or function normally.
“Everyone feels sad sometimes.”
People who are temporarily sad or low may say that they are “depressed,” but this is not the same at all. Depressive episodes can last months or even years, and can have a significant impact on your life, with physical symptoms as well as mental ones. It is not simply feeling sad.
“You can only be depressed if you’ve gone through a difficult time.”
While significant life problems or events such as job loss or a death can put you at risk of developing depression, this mental health disorder is caused by various factors such as genetics, circumstance, or trauma.
“If you have depression, you’re not trying to be happy.”
The worst thing you can say to someone that is depressed is to just “be happy” or to snap out of it, and they’ll be better. If only it was that simple. This advice is very misinformed and misguided. If you imagine saying that to someone who has broken a limb that they need to just “get better,” it would sound silly. So why say it to someone who is suffering from a debilitating mental illness?
“Happy people can’t have depression.”
There is a misconception that people who are externally happy cannot suffer from disorders such as depression or anxiety. This is because people tend to mask their real feelings and make out like they’re managing their lives easily and tend to suffer in silence.
“People with depression are mentally weak.”
People with depression are not mentally weak. Having depression does not make someone inferior or weaker than others. Depression is a very complex issue and those who suffer need time to heal their wounds.
Why Stereotypes About Depression Are Harmful
Stereotypes about depression are harmful because they misrepresent the illness and create a stigma around the disorder. This can make it harder for people to come forward, and they may hide their illness and go without treatment, which will only worsen the symptoms.
If you are struggling with depression, it is paramount that you come forward and speak to someone you trust, along with a counselor or therapist, for help and guidance. They can provide you with the advice, treatment and support you require in order to heal and get better.