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Please Stop Incorrectly Using the Word 'Depressed'


You probably think it’s harmless, that it’s just a word. You probably don’t realize what you’re actually describing when you say you’re “really depressed” today because you forgot to charge your phone or the meeting you were in today was “so depressing.” What you really mean is you’re irritated or the meeting was really boring. While these emotions can certainly be powerful, they are not a mental illness.

The stigma that surrounds mental illness is ingrained in our society, and it cannot be challenged without challenging the vocabulary that has somehow found its way into common usage.

Most people who use these words probably don’t even realize what they are doing, and herein lies the problem. Ignorance. Mental illness is viewed by many as inferior to physical illness and that somehow the people struggling with it choose to do so. Anyone who has experienced or seen mental illness firsthand knows how serious it it and the awful effect it can have on a person, both mentally and physically. Unfortunately not enough people actually know the reality.

It is therefore the job of those of us who do understand mental illness is not to be taken lightly, to challenge this language. We don’t have to be horrible about it, but we can educate those around us and make them think more carefully about the words they use.

So to those of you who casually use “depressed” or say things like, “I’m so OCD,” please stop. Please think about using the words you really mean. Those of you who understand, please challenge mental health stigma whenever you see or hear it, even if it is just someone saying they are depressed, when really they’re just a bit annoyed.

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Thinkstock photo by Ingram Publishing