People who suffer from clinical depression carry with them a social stigma that unfortunately exacerbates the serious problems they deal with on a daily basis. Since the disease is completely misunderstood by the general public, those who suffer from depression are generally shunned or, at the very least, treated differently in some way by friends, family, and colleagues. By becoming informed about the true essence of clinical depression, people can better equip themselves to help those they care about that suffer from the disease.
1. They may or may not take meds
People diagnosed with clinical depression don’t necessarily take medication for their symptoms. And if they do, that doesn’t mean they’ll magically “get happy” after popping a couple pills. And it certainly doesn’t mean they’re just faking to get access to drugs. In fact, because of the stigma attached to taking drugs to offset depression, many people who suffer from the disease choose not to take medication. Unfortunately, this can be detrimental to their health, as some people truly do need medication to help them, but will refuse them based on how society views “pill popping.”
2. They don’t mean to ditch you
People who suffer from depression often isolate themselves from their friends and family. Unfortunately, those on the outside looking in may get the wrong idea, thinking the person suffering is actively trying to shut everyone else out of their lives. In fact, the reason people suffering from depression distance themselves from friends and family is because they don’t want to burden others with their problems. They know it’s draining to be around them (because it’s draining to be themselves), so they don’t want to throw a pity party while everyone else is trying to have fun. This is a major reason friends and family need to make an even greater effort to be there for friends who suffer from this debilitating disease.
3. They’re not “faking” it
Because depression is misunderstood by the general public, people find it hard to believe those who suffer from it actually can show signs of happiness and emotions other than sadness. When a depressed person musters up the courage to go out with friends, they’ll sometimes be able to “snap out of it,” telling jokes and laughing with the group for a few hours, and it may seem like nothing is wrong. However, depression transcends fleeting moments, and acts as a forcefield around the person that prohibits good moods from lasting very long. While those who suffer from depression can in fact enjoy themselves at times, anxiety and despair rear their ugly heads later on when they settle in from a relatively fun night.
4. They know they’re too much to deal with
Like I said, people who suffer from depression don’t want to burden others with their issues. They understand that at times they can be “Debbie Downers,” and don’t want to bring everyone else down with them. And they know their moods can fluctuate at times, so they would rather stay home alone than risk having a meltdown in front of their friends. However, this is when friends need to step it up and be more understanding and compassionate than they’ve ever been before.
5. Being “depressed” isn’t the same as suffering from clinical depression
People throw around the term “depressed” as a synonym for sad so much that it tends to lose meaning. If your pet dies, you’ll definitely be saddened by it, and you’ll probably be sad for a while. But it won’t be a debilitating feeling that keeps you from living your daily life. And it’s a reaction to a terrible event that happened to you. Clinical depression doesn’t come from any external stimuli. The reason clinical depression is so hard to defeat is there is seemingly no reason for a person to be so down in the first place. Since they can’t point out the reason they’re feeling low, it’s incredibly hard to tackle the issue.
6. Don’t be soft with us
I know I just spoke about how important it is to be there for your friend who’s currently suffering from depression, but it’s also important to not be so soft with them that you come off as being patronizing. Although you should definitely be careful not to offend them, you shouldn’t feel as if you need to walk on eggshells around them, either. Remember: clinical depression isn’t so much a response to external factors as it is a manifestation of the mind and chemical imbalance. The best thing you can do for a friend suffering from depression is to simply be the friend you’ve always been to them.
7. People with depression aren’t weak
Since the term “being depressed” is so overused in society, many people operate under the misconception that actually being depressed is a sign of weakness. People think “I was sad last week, too. But I got over it pretty quickly,” so they assume that other people who suffer from depression are “milking it” in some way. There’s a saying about those who suffer from depression that says they have simply “been strong for far too long.” In other words, they’ve lived with this crippling disease for an incredibly long time, and only recently hit the breaking point at which they needed to find help. People who suffer from depression aren’t weak. In fact, they’re some of the strongest members of our society.
8. It’s not about “getting over it,” but getting through it
I alluded to this in the last section, but some people are under the misconception that depressed people simply need to “get over it.” Also mentioned before was the notion that there is no catalyst that pushes a person into a downward spiral of depression, so it’s incredibly hard to pinpoint the source of the problem. When you say you “got over” something, you simply mean you let it go and moved on with your life. To beat clinical depression, you can’t “let it go” or ignore it. You have to face it head on and work through it. Again, for someone to face clinical depression with every bit of willpower they have shows just how strong that person is.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm3.staticflickr.com