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3 Basic Things to Understand About Depression

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Many people who are depressed hesitate to seek professional help. I believe it is because of the stigma associated with depression. Most medical problems or illnesses have physical manifestations that can be seen by others, but that is not often the case with depression. A person living with depression might be seriously considering suicide while he laughs around and cracks jokes with friends. Due to this, most people find it difficult to understand how a person with depression might feel and what he/she goes through.

As some people like to say, “It is all in the head!” The mental agony a patient goes through is rarely observed by others, which can cause people to confuse clinical depression with general sadness. As a patient of clinical depression, I would like to share three important things to help understand people with depression and its treatment better.

1. We’re not making this up.

Never tell a person with depression, “There is nothing wrong with you. It’s all in your head.” While you may not necessarily mean to hurt us, hearing those words make us feel worse than ever.

Please, don’t make us feel like we are overreacting or attention-seeking. Please, accept we are not OK and we actually have an illness, an illness which causes us to lose every connection we have to this world. An illness which we cannot just “snap out of.” Though we might be laughing and functioning well outside, deep down in our hearts, we might have no desire to live. Don’t think we are happy just by seeing the smile on our faces.

2. Taking medications isn’t a bad thing.

Let’s be honest! The helpfulness of medications and their side effects are factors that are heavily debated. So, we are venturing into unknown territory here. Yet, let me tell you something based on what I know. Medications do help some people. While they can cause a foggy brain and alter our appetite, they still function as a strong anchor that holds our lives together.

Moreover, some people can manage their depression without medication while some people cannot. Some might require both medication and therapy. While some people may require just one of them, all those people go through similar pain. One cannot say a person who can manage depression without pills is stronger mentally than a person who requires both therapy and medication. So, don’t make us feel guilty or “weak” for taking medicine.

3. Being suicidal doesn’t make us “weak” or “ungrateful.”

A patient living with clinical depression doesn’t think of suicide just because he failed an examination or he had a breakup. People think of quitting on life because they just can’t be happy. Many of us have a loving family, a good job and caring friends. Yet, we are unable to experience happiness. The pain of having everything and yet having nothing pushes us to the point of wanting to end our lives. It is not because we are weak. It is not because we are ungrateful for the good things we have in life. It is because we live with an illness that doesn’t allow us to actually live our lives.

When you come across a person living with clinical depression, remember these three basic things before you try to help them. Because you can only help people once you actually understand their struggle.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Originally published: September 1, 2016
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