June 16, 2015
Too often people who experience clinical depression are unwilling to reach out for help, due to the way others tend to respond. They might say things such as: “You have a family that loves you, friends that care about you, and a bright future ahead. You have a good life. What is there for you to be depressed about?” as well as, “Why are you depressed? Don’t you know that people have it worse off than you?” When responses such as these are received, clinically depressed people feel the need to validate why they feel the way they do, often leading to severe guilt and greater depression – especially when they begin to compare their struggles to others.
But should they? Let us see what the experts say. “Very often a combination of genetic, psychological and environmental factors is involved in the onset of clinical depression. At times, however, depression occurs for no apparent reason" (National Institute of Mental Health, 2000).
Fact #1: You do NOT need a “valid reason” to be depressed.
The NIMH further states that such depression “is not a passing mood, a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed away. Clinically depressed people cannot ‘pull themselves together’ and get better” (NIH Publication No. 00-4266). Too few people understand the above statement. One who has never experienced depression for no apparent reason could not possibly understand; they often argue that they were depressed at one point, too, and got better, so by this logic, the same must be true for all people. The problem is this is just not true. Let us turn to a popular analogy circulating social media sites, such as on Tumblr and Reddit: “Having depression is like having a broken car – just because your car is running fine and dandy, that does not mean somebody else’s is, too.” When people compare themselves to clinically depressed people, it is almost like saying, “Well, my car’s running perfectly, so that must mean yours is, too.” This is like a slap to someone’s face. To tell someone to just “get over it” or argue “I got through it, so you should be able to as well” is unbelievably unsympathetic. Likewise, the words: “Well, I’m going through/gone through much more than you are/have. You wanna talk about depression? I’ll tell you about depression” are simply unacceptable.
Fact #2: Everybody processes situations and emotions differently.
Surprise! The human mind is unbelievably complex. While we may all share similar primary emotions (happy, sad, surprised, and angry), not all people experience these emotions in the same way — some people feel very deeply, and for longer durations, while others may not (EQA, 2009). The same thing can be said of situations, for your mind is your own which means it shouldn't be surprising that you might handle a situation differently than others. So while it might be easy for you to get over situations easily, you have to understand it might not be that way for somebody else.
Fact #3: If you are, in fact, depressed, you CAN get better — with the right help.
According to the NIMH, “Depression can be successfully treated by a mental health professional or certain health care providers. With the right treatment, 80 percent of those who seek help get better" (NIH Publication No. 00-4266). This number is staggering. In fact, the only reason why it is not higher is because oftentimes people give up on searching for the right treatment much too soon — they may lose hope after one method, or maybe even a few methods, happen to fail. But the fact is, treating depression goes beyond just taking anti-depressants (which do work for many, but not for all) — the NIMH states: "Certain types of psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy, can help resolve psychological or interpersonal problems that contribute to, or result from, the illness” (NIH Publication No. 00-4266). If depression is severe enough, often the best route is to combine these two options of treatment: medication as well as psychotherapy. And even if these methods don’t work, there are still many more that can make a difference — never give up!
Sources/Read more on:
- Primary Emotions
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy