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.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Ingram Publishing

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Depression

woman opening curtains

Why I'm Not Ashamed to Talk About My Mental Illness Anymore

When I was 18, I moved out of my mother’s house and into my own apartment. It wasn’t much: a small, one-bedroom, off-campus place, the type of place where rent is cheap and the fixtures are cheaper. I decorated my new pad with things from the “dorm aisle” in Target. I had a set of [...]
a woman holding a mug and looking out a window

3 Reminders for the Days Depression Leaves You Feeling Defeated

Before you begin, I encourage you to read this with an open mind, as these feelings are all part of the human experience. They will always exist no matter who or where you are. What I am trying to do is illustrate this humanity in every one of us. The type of depression and anxiety [...]
a woman in shadows with her finger up as if to say: sush.

Depression Kills

I began this day like most others, pulling my laptop into bed with me, scrolling through emails and social media, slowly waking up and trying to gather enough motivation to start the day. One of the tweets that crossed my path was a chart about suicide awareness, listing many of the contributing factors. As I [...]
woman standing in front of chalkboard with rain clouds drawn above her head

When People Ask Why I'm Depressed

Often when you struggle with depression, I’ve found, one of the hardest things to do can be to admit it to others. Faking a smile and saying “I’m fine” can seem easier than either getting silence as a response or, worse, having someone ask why. The thing is, I don’t know. I have no one reason [...]