Responding When Someone Asks, 'Is Depression Real?'
Depression is part of your life. No matter how much you wish it wasn’t; it is. Depression makes its presence known by removing your motivation, reducing your mood and changing you from someone full of hope and optimism to a pessimist. The way you view yourself and the world around you is skewed due to depression. For many, depression limits their self-esteem to the point that they no longer like themselves.
To make matters worse, some of the people in your life are being less than supportive. Rather than finding ways to understand or empathize, they view your issues as a character flaw or a personal shortcoming. They say you're being lazy, that you're unmotivated and that you should just "snap out of it".
Not only is depression pressuring you to not like yourself, it seems that it is encouraging people around you to not like you, either.
Depression: Myth vs. Reality
Everyone with depression will come face-to-face with people that have strong misconceptions about the illness. Knowing the arguments and the myths many people hold as truths will help you provide them with the information needed to expand their minds. Are you ready to enlighten the people in your life? Here’s how:
Myth: People with depression are mentally weak.
Fact: Depression is not about being weak; it is about the combination of your biological predisposition and your life experiences that bring about depression. For some the threshold is very low and others very high.
Myth: People with depression are just sad.
Fact: Having depression means having a group of symptoms. No one has ever been diagnosed with depression just for “being sad.” In fact, some people with depression have no mood symptoms. Instead, they experience problems with energy, motivation, sleep, appetite or irritability. Sadness contributes to depression for many, but is only a piece of the puzzle.
Myth: People with depression could change it if they wanted to.
Fact: This is the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps" argument and it is a poor one. People with depression are not choosing to be depressed. They had depression thrust upon them. Would you tell someone in a wheelchair that they could climb a flight of stairs if they put their mind to it? Of course not. The problem with depression is that it convinces you that nothing will help and only encourages you to do behaviors or have thoughts that make depression worse. This is why a therapist is so helpful. A therapist serves as an outside observer that is able to bring attention to distorted perceptions.