Skip to main content Skip to bottom nav

My friends, family or colleagues don't think depression is a real illness. How can I educate them?

29 Answers
Last Updated: 07/06/2018 at 7:24am
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Andrea Tuck, LCPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

I tackle and discuss a multitude of social and emotional health issues. I have a belief that through empowerment and non-judgmental support clients' can thrive.

Top Rated Answers
March 18th, 2015 2:37pm
Depression, like any other mental illness, is a chemical imbalance inside your brain. It is a completely biological phenomenon, just like diabetes. Try explaining to them that you have a chronic illness just like diabetes, and you wouldn't tell a diabetic person that their illness is not real.
September 18th, 2014 8:10am
Being in depression is a cry for help that should never be ignored. It is a warning that something is terribly wrong. depression can lead to feelings of despair and hopelessness
September 14th, 2014 11:20pm
The best method of educating people on an illness as serious as depression is showing them studies done on the matter. Hundreds of millions of people suffer from depression, some people just don't understand what it's like so they need their eyes opened about it. Knowledge is power more so with a subject like mental health and disorders.
September 28th, 2014 2:26am
By showing them that depression is a real situation that has taken too many lives and that we need a healthy society that will help people so depression won't exist.
October 6th, 2014 12:14am
Encourage them to attend a therapy group to better understand it or give them resources on depression. Emphasize the intensity of your depression symptoms to them (if you're comfortable with it) and try to explain that it goes beyond the average everyday sadness. Point out that there is SCIENTIFIC evidence that depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, which is no different than having a disease caused by a hormone imbalance or something like that. If you said you had diabetes people wouldn't roll their eyes and tell you to "just make some insulin." They'll tell you to be conscious of your diet and to take your medication when necessary. A mental illness is no different, it is a chemical imbalance in the brain that is often successfully treated with medication, just like other illness are often treated with medication. Some people will always be ignorant and not believe in mental illness, and that's out of your control, but a lot of people can turn around once they've been informed.
October 23rd, 2014 1:47am
There are lots of ways. You can talk to them about your own experience; you can direct them toward online resources such as NAMI, DBSA, and many more; you can show them books or articles that explain about depression; you can show them the depression help guide we have here on the site; if you're comfortable, you could even have your loved one come with you to one of your doctor/therapist appointments to have a conversation.
October 23rd, 2014 1:37pm
depression is a illness but because there are no band-aids nothing that is visible they dont see it but maybe if you have a lunch room you could find some pamplets in there so they can read them but do remember some will stay narrow minded
October 27th, 2014 6:43pm
I'm sorry that your friends and family do not believe that depression is a real illness. Perhaps you could get some information from your doctor that they could read and/or search reputable sites on the internet and print information for them to read.
November 2nd, 2014 7:56pm
Just because someone doesn't experience it(yet) doesn't mean that at some point they won't change their mind. In my experience I had few people come back to me and say that it actually is real, when before they were wrong. And others wouldn't openly agree but say and feel very alike me many years ago. So don't fret, just because someone isn't ill, doesn't mean it is not possible or not real. Many people experience it and will agree with you at any time.
November 3rd, 2014 4:18pm
Try to help them by providing some samples suggestions from doctors. Tell them what can be consequences of being in depression. Educate them so that can understand how can depression is a very tough illness to deal with
November 4th, 2014 3:24am
Depression is definitely a real illness. It has been already established by the American Psychological Association many years ago that Depression is very real. To show them you can use books, news articles, and professional advice.
November 6th, 2014 11:02am
Your family, friends and colleagues may not consider depression an illness. However, it is noted in medical logs that depression is indeed an illness. How about you find some information from a reputable source such as a Medical website or government medical website to help you.
November 9th, 2014 12:44pm
You can tell them to look it up on google or you can tell them about how you feel and what depression is (to you).
November 10th, 2014 2:49am
It can be very difficult to handle an illness if those around you don't believe in it. You can always show them studies in relation to depression. It all depends on how they learn best. Sometimes even finding an educational video or making a presentation yourself can help. :) You can always get a specialist to help you out as well!
November 14th, 2014 9:21am
Tell them how you feel everyday. Tell them how normal experiences affect you differently and you just need support through this time.
November 15th, 2014 3:13pm
You can tell them that depression is a really serious illness, try going on a website that could educate them on depression
April 4th, 2015 11:15pm
There's a really good video on youtube called "I had a black dog, his name was depression". Maybe you should show them. Sometimes people think they know so much about something that they will ignore whatever else you say about it. Maybe a visual explanation might help.
December 14th, 2015 10:25pm
Give them pamphlets
January 18th, 2016 2:32am
Give them resources that show otherwise. Tell them about people they would know who suffered from it. Above all tell them it would help you if they were supportive to your needs in the illness even if they don't think of it as such. They can't deny you the path towards recovery.
February 1st, 2016 1:49am
I think a good way to educate them is to approach them in a friendly manner. If you start out by attacking them, it can lead to a hostile situation. Which would definitely be something non productive. Start by talking with them about it, and why they feel it's not a real illness. Perhaps have some research done and suggest some resources for them to visit!
May 24th, 2016 2:17am
Depression is a major cause of hopelessness, being stuck in the past, loss of self-respect, loss of integrity, suicide, and the destruction of one's future. For example, many kids have missed tons of school because of depression...and they went from good grades/AP classes to failing school. Some kids won't eat because they're depressed, leading to poor health which can ultimately lead to other detrimental health problems. One might not be able to focus on the present because they are depressed and holding on to a past traumatizing event. Sometimes kids become depressed when their parents are divorced and busy fighting. There are kids that have no one to go to so they get addicted to drugs/alcohol because they don't want to face reality and they essentially drink their life away. When one is depressed, they may not know who to go to and they might start hanging out with the wrong people who demoralize them. One extremely disturbing effect of depression can be suicide. Suicide rates have escalated really quickly in the past 30 years. Suicide rates continue to grow every second, in every age group except older adults. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. The cause...depression. Globally, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. Unfortunately, this number keeps increasing. Moreover, depression is a growing problem that has many negative effects on many aspects in an individual's life.
September 27th, 2016 2:10am
a good way to educate them is to explain to them what you go through, sometimes its difficult for people to understand.
November 15th, 2016 7:27pm
Send them some articles or YouTube videos that explain depression from various perspectives - medical as well as individual experiences. The more they see how widespread it is, the easier it may be for them to accept.
February 14th, 2017 7:57pm
Sometimes you could show people proof on a silver plate and they won't believe it but don't take it to heart. Depression is REAL! Looks up information online and send it to them, send them real life stories so they they realize some people don't even show signs. Look up celebrities who have talking about (the Rock has a video on you tube of how he still goes thru it sometimes)
February 21st, 2017 10:17pm
It's super frustrating when people don't recognize depression as an illness! I like to tell them about neurotransmitters, and how it's a chemical imbalance and not a choice, which can help them to understand that it's not just an outlook. Sometimes, I'll say "what do you do when you break a bone? You go to the doctor. What do you do when you get really sick? Go to the doctor. Why shouldn't I go to the doctor if something's wrong with my body or mind?" and that can be useful, too. Best of luck!
April 3rd, 2017 10:54am
You could tell them how you feel when your depression is at its worst and compare it to how others feel if they're not diagnosed with depression. This can help them to understand what it's like and you could show them some links such as NHS or even 7 cups could have some guides for them to see.
January 8th, 2018 4:45pm
Through articles,examples and medical help that depressed people are being given can help them to understand things better depression.
January 29th, 2018 8:07am
Well, We have plenty of resources nowadays to educate the world on these things :) So you could google solutions and just give them websites, facts, or refer them to a psychologist... But Personally, i have found you need to give your personal experience for your friends and family to truly understand. They love you, they may understand more than you think :)
July 6th, 2018 7:24am
Sometimes I think it would help if depression had a different name. Too many ppl think "depression" is just a mood, like "Oh, I'm sad today cause this or that bad thing happened". I think if it had a more medical sounding name like Neurotransmitter Dysfunction Syndrome or something ppl might take it more seriously.