How is it that depression is so pervasive, yet we never talk about it?
In fact, depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States among people ages 15-44. Yet, sadly two-thirds of people with depression do not actively seek or receive proper treatment. Depression, much like suicide or abortion, still carries so much stigma. Our society needs to destigmatize depression and start talking about it.
Why don’t people talk about depression?
One of the problems is that when you admit to people that you have succumbed to depression, you feel like you are admitting defeat. You feel like you are admitting that you are not as tough as the other people that are also dealing with a lot in their life. So, you don’t talk about depression. You don’t share with people when you’re depressed. You keep that shit to yourself, because admitting that depression took over in your life is like admitting that you are weak. And many people are too proud to make that kind of admission.
Another thing that keeps people from talking about depression is that most people don’t want to be associated with being the Debbie Downer at the party. There are some people who are depressive types who feel better when they bring others down with them. However, many who are dealing with depression feel like they are burdening others when they reach out. They feel like they don’t have much to contribute to the conversation. One of the best things that a depressed person can do is to reach out to friends and family and talk to them. However, they often don’t reach out because they don’t want to share that version of themselves with others.
Be there for your depressed friend.
If a friend or family member finally gets up the courage to reach out to you when she is depressed, just talk with her, even if you’re doing most of the talking. Listen to her, even when sometimes all you are listening to is her silence. Check in on her daily. Call, or even better, visit her. Force her to join you for a walk outside, so she breathes in the fresh air, gets moving, and absorbs vitamin D from the sun. She would greatly benefit from talking to another human being in person. Depression often goes hand in hand with isolation and loneliness. So, the best thing you can do is to be there for your friend and provide a listening, sympathetic, non-judgmental ear.
Not all depression looks the same.
I have been the type of depressed where I am crying all the time for no good reason. I have also been the type of depressed that leaves you listless and lacking in emotion. And, I have also experienced the type of depression that makes your legs go weak and leaves you sleeping all day, incapacitated and unable to do much of anything. Honestly, the listless, non-emotive depression is sometimes worse than the crying all day variation. At least when you’re crying, you’re getting something out of your system. But, when I have that dull, flat affect depression; I actually have difficulty trying to shed a tear. Sometimes wish I could cry because at least I’d be feeling something.