I love the idea of fighting stigma and educating the world on mental health and its symptoms, especially depression. When I first saw this article called “21 Depression Truth Bombs Nobody Every Drops” it had gone viral on Facebook and distractify. It was even being shared by one of my favorites, George Takei, while using the face of the late grate Robin Williams. I was at first very excited to see it and quickly opened it up. I was instantly frustrated, saddened, and frankly very pissed off by it's lack of truth. Furthermore, I am enraged that this kind of list is what we are accepting as “truth” in our society so much that we have celebrities (who don't know any better) sharing this stuff as fact.
I have decided to do the list over again, only this time, the answers are real. I have taken the list, exactly as it was in it's original order, only I have explained them all, fact or fiction – from a seasoned therapist.
I challenge you to fight stigma, by sharing the truth (this includes you Mr. Takei).
1. It doesn't make you cry.
Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. You can be depressed and be miserable without crying, and you can be depressed and cry all the time. Everyone is different and each person's depression symptoms can be different. Crying CAN be a part of depression, but it does not have to be.
2. Having good days isn't the solution.
Yes and no. Again, everyone's depression is different. Having a good day isn't necessarily the solution, and it certainly isn't a “cure”, but depending on the person, it can really help.
3. Success (or lack thereof) has nothing to do with it.
Sorry for seeming repetitive, but yet again, it depends on the person. A long streak of no success CAN cause depressive symptoms and CAN worsen depression. Therefore having some success can help to treat your symptoms of depression. However, everyone is different and this is not a true cure – it just might help.
4. It distorts your perception of reality.
I really should just copy and paste my responses at this point. Again, this varies by the person. Some depression does include delusions, or the distortion of reality, but not all depression includes this. However, there is a high frequency of distorting things like self worth, self value, etc.
5. It really, really distorts your perception of reality.
It CAN, but not always. It is possible to have a good grasp on reality and still be severely depressed – depending on your definition of the word “distorts”, I suppose.
6. Coming out and saying you have it is almost as difficult as actually having it.
This one is mostly true, and in my experience, its even more so true for teenagers, men, and people who grow up in emotionally closed off families.
7. Treating it makes you feel guilty.
A blanket statement that treating depression makes everyone feel guilty? Wow if only I had my list of logical fallacies handy- this one's a doozy. I have a big problem with this one – sure sometimes people feel guilty for getting treatment, but mostly they just feel better. Damn this list and it's popularity if this stupid #7 causes anyone else to feel guilty. There is NO reason to feel guilty for getting treatment for depression anymore than feeling guilty for getting treatment for a broken bone. Being depressed can cause the individual to feel guilty about almost anything, not just treatment, so lets not single out guilt over treatment. Depression and guilt are linked, not treatment and guilt.
8. It destroys friendships for reasons having nothing to do with friends...
Depression doesn't destroy friendships, behavior does, and so does shitty friends. Real friends will stick around. Depression does however, make it hard to leave the house due to low self esteem, lack of motivation, and low energy – if your friends can't handle these, then I guess you will lose friendships that you might not want anyway.
9. ...at which point this conundrum sets in – (feeling completely alone and isolated but being too down to socialize and make plans.
Yes, this one does happen, but not always. I will say this is among the more true points on this list. Depression and it's symptoms can be devastating in more ways than I can explain, and many times it results in people being alone. Learn the signs of depression and how to help loved ones so they don't have to experience being alone on top of already being depressed.
10.Trying to explain it makes you feel like a whiner.
I am on the fence about this one in terms of validity. I am certain tho that for an educated first world country, such as ours, we should know better than to think that emotional expression and the processing of deep emotions is NOT whining.
11.”Just snap out of it” is a line that's all too familiar.
TRUTH. Under-education in our society has spread the myth that depression has something to do with effort. If you haven't studied depression, keep your judgments to yourself.
12. Getting through your daily routine feels like a Sisyphean task.
This one is partly true. Depression symptoms do include low energy and a lack of motivation that can make daily tasks seem impossible, but it is also very common to be depressed and have NO trouble getting daily tasks done. We all respond differently to depression.
13. It takes a very long time to treat.
Again, we are generalizing that it will take a very long time to treat for everyone. Who exactly are we helping by saying this? This seems more like a discouraging statement than anything. In terms of length of time for treatment, instead of “long time” lets be real – depression treatment has no real average.
If you are going the medication route and declining psychotherapy, symptoms usually start to lessen in 3-4 weeks, but medication is not a “cure” for most people. If you are seeking psychotherapy treatment alone, symptoms can lessen right away and gradually decrease over time. For best results, combine medication with psychotherapy.
14.Even with all the information out there, it's still stigmatized.
True, and this article isn't helping.
15. It physically hurts.
Sometimes yes, but not always. Psycho-somatic symptoms (physical symptoms caused by mental problems), and fatigue, are common with depression, but it is possible to be very depressed and have no physical symptoms.
16. Treating it doesn't make it go away completely.
Wow really? Did the author bother to fact check this at all before publishing? Treatment for depression doesn't always work for many reasons, but with continued effort utilizing medications AND psychotherapy, treatment is very possible and a complete reduction in symptoms is VERY likely. DON'T GIVE UP!
17. It's hard, if not impossible, to access your core desires and values because of your biology.
It is hard, but certainly not impossible. Our brains have built in mechanisms for dealing with reality that make accessing core beliefs and desires very hard, but it isn't impossible. In fact, accessing your core desires and values is exactly what you will do in therapy – it's much easier to do with a trained professional.
18. People almost always don't know how to respond to it.
Yes, most people don't know how to respond to depression due to lack of education and stigma, just to name a few. Try empathy for best results, and go see a professional, even if it's not you who is depressed. A therapist can help teach you how to better deal with a loved one's depression, not just your own.
19. Religion can be an ally, but it can also be an enemy.
True. Praying doesn't make depression any better – and when people tell depressed loved ones to get “counseling” from their pastor instead of from a mental health professional I want to rip my hair out. Your pastor knows the bible, he/she doesn't know mental health, and last time I checked the cure for depression isn't outlined in any of those verses.
20. Life doesn't stop life-ing when you're depressed.
True. Life is very stressful to start with; add a dose of depression on top and life can seem impossible. This is why treatment is so essential.
21. The best part of the day is when you're not conscious.
Whether it's oversleeping or simply trying to avoid being awake, this is a common experience for many depressed people, but not all of them. This one is mostly true, but does not apply to everyone. It is possible to be very depressed and prefer to be doing something other than being asleep.
Written by Brad Messenger, LMSW.