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Depression Isn't a Bad Word

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Depression is a real illness. Depression is not a mythical unicorn whose existence is up for debate; it has been scientifically proven to exist. Unfortunately, it’s not rare; affecting approximately 7.6 percent of the U.S. population. Depression is a potentially life-threatening illness that needs to be taken seriously.

Depression is such an isolating illness for many reasons. Often people who are depressed feel constantly exhausted which results in losing interest in things we were once passionate about. It also keeps us from getting out and spending time with our friends and family – whose support we desperately need.

Depression tells us we are a burden to others, and that the people we care about would be better off without us. It tells us we don’t matter and that no one cares, and it’s probably never going to get better for us. Of course to the people who love someone with depression that’s not true, but to the person who is depressed that is our reality.

Despite all of the progress that has been made in diagnosing and treating depression, so many people are still afraid to talk about it or even say the word depression. It’s not a swear word, and we shouldn’t be afraid to say it.

It seems that people are often afraid to say anything at all because they are unsure of what to say or they don’t understand depression. In the age of information, claiming ignorance is not a valid reason for not offering help to a loved one in a time of need. If you search “depression” on Google, you will find 238,000,000 results.

Ignoring and pretending depression or the person struggling with it doesn’t exist enforces all of the negative beliefs the depressed person struggles with. This results in even more feelings of isolation and hopelessness.

Each year approximately 44,193 Americans will die by suicide. That’s an average of 121 a day. Suicide is completely preventable and we all need to do our part to prevent it.

If you are unsure of how to approach someone struggling with depression, start by just asking them if they are OK, or if they would like to talk. Let them know you are there for them, and continue to check in with them. Even if they don’t want to talk or don’t open up right away, knowing someone does care about them could potentially save their life.

We are here to help people, so let’s start helping each other out, even if we’re not always sure where to start.

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Thinkstock photo via La_Corivo

Originally published: March 31, 2017
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