The National Institute of Mental Health announced that “Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. According to the World Health Organization (2010), major depression also carries the heaviest burden of disability among mental and behavioral disorders. In 2014, an estimated 15.7 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This number represented 6.7% of all U.S. adults”.
Even though I disagree with the notion that depression is a disease, disorder, or disability, it is absolutely valid that huge swaths of the public struggle with the experience of depression. There remains an embedded negative stigma about depression in our society, which often mutes discussion or creates fear surrounding transparency. This can lead to tragic results.
Women’s Day Magazine published an article by Maria Carter called “15 Things Nobody Ever Tells You about Depression”. It included 15 different online statements made anonymously by people struggling with depression. The anonymity the Internet provides allowed these people to express their thoughts transparently, without the fear of any potential stigma. These 15 statements challenge many of the barriers people who battle depression face:
- You don’t have to be sad to be depressed.
- “Anxiety often comes as a package deal.”
- You can gauge your mental state by the stacks of unopened mail.
- It can look like laziness from the outside.
- It physically hurts.
- Even the slightest activity leaves you feeling exhausted.
- But you won’t be able to sleep.
- You forget what you’re saying in the middle of a sentence.
- Your personal hygiene takes a backseat.
- You feel guilty for things that aren’t your fault.
- It’s not always rain clouds and roadkill.
- Feeling better requires lots of hard work.
- Just because you’re not suicidal doesn’t mean you want to live.
- Your thoughts don’t define you.
- You are not alone.
It is encouraging to see people standing up and talking about the shadows of this harrowing experience. Bit by bit, we can truly destigmatize and shine a soft and compassionate light on all forms of human suffering. Again, you are not alone in managing and even healing your depressive symptoms. Park Ridge Psychological Services is here to help equip you as the primary agent of change and healing.
One final note: if you are having active thoughts of suicide, please call 911 or get to your closest emergency room. Additionally, know that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 is available 24 hours a day, every day.
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