What comes to mind when you hear “depression?” Do you picture a teenager crying alone in their room? Maybe a friend that had a rough day and feels defeated? Or perhaps something darker comes to mind?
The reality of depression is that anyone at any time can be depressed, and it can affect many aspects of life.
According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, depression is the “leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44.” Businesses lose millions each year in lost productivity and medical expenses, schools rack up absences, and at times the illness may prevent an individual from furthering their career or educational opportunities. Lack of motivation, feelings of worthlessness, and a general inclination to stay home are all symptoms that make everyday living difficult.
The images that the media portrays of depression are usually the most horrific. Movies show self-mutilation, TV shows project drug problems as a coping method, and news channels speak of young people who have taken their life.
What isn’t shown too often is the daily struggle of a clinically depressed individual. The reality is that someone can seem absolutely fine. Outsiders looking in see nothing wrong; the person is smiling, interacting with others, and appears to be radiating happiness. However, on the inside, a depressed person is giving their façade every drop of effort. They don’t want others to think that something is wrong with them. Maybe if I can convince others that I’m okay, I can convince myself. I’m probably just overreacting anyways. The denial continues on.
Once alone, the reality sets in. Sleeping, overeating, crying- all are common parts of life. Feelings of hopelessness seep their way into the conscious mind. Anxiety often comes hand-in-hand with depression, serving as a roadblock in the fight towards happiness. And though the battle rages on, it is subdued long enough to force a smile around others.
One of the most horrifying statistics is that nearly two out of three people who suffer from depression do not seek treatment or receive proper treatment. Part of this has to do with the stereotypes surrounding depression. Individuals refuse treatment because they believe that society will see them as “weak,” “attention-seeking,” or “broken.” The thought of therapy can also make a person resentful. I’m not crazy, I’m just having a bad day. I can deal with it on my own. A clinically depressed person is absolutely not crazy. A chemical imbalance is not something you can be to blame for, but it’s also not something that should be ignored. A loving support system, counseling, and often times medication should all work together to make a person feel their best.
Seeking help does not make you weak. In fact, it is one of the strongest things that you can do. So stand tall, take a deep breath, and fight back. Your life is too beautiful to not enjoy.