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If You Think Depression Is Always Invisible, Look Again

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Some say: Depression is an invisible disease, it shows no signs of physical trauma and is an experience of the mind. People around you are unable to recognize it, because it’s a disorder you can’t see.

I beg to disagree.

I have heard the same stories, same explanations and same arguments over and over again with only one objective to prove: Depression is an invisible disorder. I would like to tell you it isn’t always.

Depression is often thought of as an “invisible disorder” because people sometimes believe you can’t “see” its symptoms. But depression, like other diseases, present physical symptoms sooner or later, some of them severe and some of them not as much. Depression is a medical disorder that is like any other not despite, but because of the existence of physical symptoms.

Let’s talk about some of the changes a person suffering from depression goes through. A change in appetite, weight loss/gain, insomnia or hypersomnia, reduced personal hygiene, withdrawal from society and general socializing, ignoring phone calls, possible increase in arguments he/she may get into on account of increased irritability and a distorted perception of reality. What is it about these symptoms sounds invisible to people?

Talking about the so termed “invisible” symptoms, they aren’t always invisible either. A lack of concentration, trouble memorizing, reduced motivation, extreme unexplained sadness, involuntary shut down of vitality, possible ideas about self-harm or worse, suicidal tendencies. From where I stand, every single symptom mentioned above has a direct physical effect.

It is true that different people experience depression differently. Some may end up overworking and powering through, some may find no reason to work at all.

Friends and family of someone who has depression can be affected, too. They see a friend, a sister, a father, a brother who has changed. As much a person with depression feels for the pain of his loved ones, apathy can be stronger and involuntary. Efforts to care only further lead them down the rabbit hole.

I fully understand the differences in severity of diseases, the way depression affects different people, the kind of support people receive, etc. But despite overwhelming differences, one cannot deny that depression can be visible. When I say that, I don’t mean visible to people who know about it, I mean visible to people who don’t.

So if you are someone who is a suffering from depression or a friend or family of someone who is suffering, please do not ignore the physical signs. Notice the withdrawals, bad hygiene, confusion, lack of motivation, self-harm and changes in work ethic, appetite, sleep, etc.

Depression can be visible. Let’s change the narrative. You and I.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one commonly held opinion within the community surrounding your disability and/or disease (or a loved one’s) that doesn’t resonate with you? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: June 23, 2016
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