9 Things People With Depression Wish You Knew About Living With The Condition
Discussions of the mental health of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, both of whom were killed by suicide. Although suicide is a complex issue, mental illness-especially depression-is a major risk factor, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But, due to stigma, far too many people feel like they can't talk about their everyday life and how mental illness affects it.
That's why, in the wake of these high-profile deaths, Amanda Stafford (@shutupamanda) started #TheRealityOfDepressionIs on Twitter, encouraging others to share their experience living with depression.
Stafford tells SELF that she's been doing mental health-related hashtags every Sunday night for about three years.
“This week…made me all the more determined to get people to talk,” she says. “I am a huge Anthony Bourdain fan, and the news of his suicide genuinely broke my heart. In the wake of his and Kate Spade's passings, I wanted to give other people, who may be suffering in a similar silence the chance to be heard.”
Stafford says she dealt with" crippling "depression for 30 years after she lost her father to suicide. "It's only because I got the strength to ask for help that I got better three years ago, and now I'm the happiest I've ever been," she says.
She's glad that people have responded to the hashtag on social media. "Depression is such a lonely disease. Any way that veil of isolation gets removed, it makes me happy, "she says. "Commiseration is such a powerful tool for showing people they are not alone."
Below are just a few of the themes that emerged in the Twitter discussion:
1. Many people with depression feel isolated.
It’s “very common” for people with depression to feel like they weigh down the people close to them, Thea Gallagher, Psy.D., clinic director at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perlman School of Medicine, tells SELF. “In my work, many people struggling with depression and depressive symptoms talk about how bad they feel about themselves, and how much they don’t want to be a burden to others,” she says.
That's why it's so important to ask a friend who has depression, how they are doing, and to keep on asking and checking in, Igor Galynker, MD, associate chairman for research in the department of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, tells SELF. Taking the initiative to let them know what you care, and that you're there. If they want to talk, can speak volumes, he says.
2. Depression can turn you into your own worst enemy.
Everyone has an internal voice, and it’s normal to “lose” arguments with yourself to an extent, Ken Yeager, Ph.D., director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF. But people who have depression may experience constant negative thoughts that are hard to argue with.
If you hear a friend engage in negative self-talk, he recommends trying to help them reframe it. For example, if they say that everything is their fault, point out that there are other people involved in a particular situation, too, and everyone makes mistakes.
3. Reaching out, it seems like a small gesture, but it can have a monumental impact.
"Reaching out and saying, 'I care about you , "makes a world of difference," Andrea K. Wittenborn, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Michigan State University, tells SELF. It can take years for many people. So letting them know how to make you comfortable. Providing a supportive environment matters.
4. Providing a supportive environment matters.
It’s an unfortunate fact of life: Some people just don't get it and are probably going to say some pretty insensitive (and inaccurate) things while they're at it. That’s why Gallagher recommends reminding your friend or family member that some people simply can’t relate to what they're going through and, therefore, might respond with judgment.
She recommends helping your friend find an online support group where they can have a safe space to talk to others who are going through the same thing.
5. Depression can be physically debilitating.
The inability to take care of basic needs is a sign of severe depression, Dr. Galynker says. "At that point, they need help urgently," he says.
Instead of pushing your loved one to eat, shower, or do whatever they're neglecting, he recommends encouraging them to see therapist, if you feel comfortable doing so, offering to go with them. "When someone is that depressed, they can feel overwhelmed. Even the task of finding a therapist is hard, "Wittenborn says.
6. Treating depression is more than just changing your mind-set.
"Some people believe that depression is optional and it's only weak people who get depressed, "Dr. Galynker says. "But it's very much an illness." Encouraging someone with depression to try to overthink it can actually be unhelpful because it can get them into a spiral of negative thinking, he says.
Instead, if your loved one has made it clear they don't want to talk, try to distract them by taking them to a movie, going for a walk together, or doing whatever else it is that you've done together in the past, Dr. Galynker recommends.
7. Certain comments can sting.
Definitely don’t tell someone that you miss the "old version" of them. “It’s a damaging thing to say,” Yeager says.
Instead, he recommends saying something like "I'd like to spend more time with you," or asking, "How can we interact with each other more? "Or," What's happening in your world that we can work together to change? "These are all of them and you're ready to help them. Just because someone's laughing does not mean they are not in pain.
8. Just because someone's laughing doesn't mean they aren't in pain.
Humor can be an effective coping mechanism, Dr. Galynker says. But if you know someone is dealing with depression, it's OK to pry a bit deeper if you are concerned and say something like, "I've heard you joke about your appearance negatively, and I'm wondering if there's any truth to it. , as I thought you could be struggling, "Gallagher says.
9. Personal strength has nothing to do with it.
“There’s no such thing as 'toughing it out,’” Yeager says. “That whole mentality leads to poor outcomes in the long run.” Instead, it’s crucial to let your loved one know that it’s OK to ask for help, and that you’re happy to provide it. “Keep them engaged in ways that you can,” he says.
Overall, experts stress that depression is treatable and can be managed. If you or someone you know is experiencing depression, do not be afraid to reach out for help.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 or text Crisis Text Line at 741-741.