Depressed people are weak (change your perception)

The following article will change your pre existing perception about if depressed people are weak. It will help you understand depression from its cores and do away with all the stigmas you had about the same.

Are depressed people weak?

Absolutely not. When you use the word coward or weak it means someone has taken a refuge in it or made it a choice. 

We have to understand that depression or anxiety is not a choice. It needs serious attention to be treated. It is something like if a person gets cancer, would you ever think if the person is coward? Same way you should not relate cowardness with depression.

Rather people who survive depression are the strongest people alive.

If your friend is going through a tough time with clinical depression, here are some of the best gifts you can give them:

The harsh reality

In a survey conducted by the National Mental Health Association, it was found that 43 percent of Americans still think depression is a result of weakness or any kind of a deficit in one’s character ( for example, people with depression are cowardly). 

The most challenging thing for a person with depression is to overcome depression itself along with these age-old stigmas that have been quite prevalent even in highly educated culture since ages.

Why do so many people think depression is some kind of a weakness?

We have noticed that depression is perceived as a defect and people with depression are treated negatively. A man is expected to not shed his emotions and a woman is expected to be calm and composed.

Let us look at some reasons behind why people attach stigmas like these to mental illness.

Depression cannot be seen

Mental illnesses are invisible. They do not characterize any physical symptoms. This is why, when you see a person with depression, laugh, crack jokes, go to parties and completely lead a normal life, you may think they are faking it. The truth is,  people who are depressed feel all the pain and suffering at an emotional level. For example, one of the symptoms of depression is lack of sleep; you cannot see if a person is having food sleep or not. They may totally look fine to you leading you to think they are faking it or nothing is so serious about it. 

Lack of knowledge

People are not really aware of the symptoms, causes, treatments of not only depression but any other mental illness. Mental health is considered a luxury and not a need. This lack of awareness can lead us to stigmatize mental health unless we take initiative to educate ourselves.

All the factors stated above play a combined effect on people’s perception about mental health.

Negative media depictions about mental illness

The role of the media in people’s perceptions and beliefs is huge. A literature review by Dara Roth Edney, MSW(2004),  on the role of media on mental health says, “Over the past 30 years, a substantial amount of research has been conducted to determine the effect of the mass media on the public’s belief systems. These studies have concluded that the media’s power to influence public perception and the degree to which people are exposed to media representations combine to make the mass media one of the most significant influences in developed societies”. 

Cutcliffe and Hannigan (2001) cite a 1993 Glasgow University study that conducted a content analysis of 562 newspaper items containing representations of mental health and illness identified within local and national media over the course of one month. The study concluded that 62% of those stories focused on violence toward others in relation to a person with a mental illness. Stories that garner the most media attention appear to be those that make a link between mental illness, crime, and violence. Yet according to Monahan (1996), only 3–5% of violence in the United States is actually committed by someone with a mental illness.

Over the past four decades, the most common depictions of mental illness in the popular media have involved mentally ill people who are violent and criminal (Cutcliffe & Hannigan, 2001; Olstead, 2002 [citing Day & Page, 1986; Nunnally, 1961]; Wahl & Roth, 1982; Wilson et al., 1999). Rose (1998) argues that psychosis is portrayed on television, as well as generally in the media, as an unclassifiable experience, and one that poses a threat. Mental illness is depicted as resisting clear meaning, and thus as incomprehensible, unpredictable, and unstable.

Therefore, all the above evidence concludes that when the media creates a negative picture of depression, it can also affect our perspective of those who suffer from depression and could lead us to avoid, fear, or discriminate against those with mental illness.

Why is stigma important to be attended to?

Mental illness is not something easy to be coped up with. It needs a lot of strength and courage to get over it. On top of that, if we do not support those people suffering from depression, stigmatize their condition, make them feel they are weak, it drags them down to rock bottom.

If you have a loved one who suffers from depression, it can have a significant impact on their work, social life, personal relationships, and even their willingness to seek treatment. The stigma can also impact how these people view their own selves. They may think they are incapable of recovery, and feel ashamed to seek medication.

These struggles can be amplified and impacted by the way you and those around them view their mental illness. This could lead to “why try” kind of thinking.

Ways to fight off stigma about depression

There’s a pervasive belief that mental illness stems from weakness. It’s not true.

Changing perception about mental illnesses can be a challenging act, but the world can be a better place if stigma free. 

Following are few ways to make yourself and others aware of depression or mental health in general:

Educate yourself 

The first step to eradicate stigma about mental health, is to acquire knowledge about it and comprehend the criticality of the effects of stigmas on the person already going through depression. 

What does it feel like to have depression? Is depression easy to treat? Knowing the answers to these kinds of questions will allow you to avoid common misconceptions.

An article named Depression Basics provides very basic knowledge about depression, its causes and treatments. 

What is depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that causes distressing symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.

What causes depression?

Scientists at NIMH and across the country are studying the causes of depression. Research suggests that a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors play a role in depression.

Depression can occur along with other serious illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Depression can make these conditions worse and vice versa. Sometimes medications taken for these illnesses may cause side effects that contribute to depression symptoms. For more information on ongoing research on depression, visit www.nimh.nih.gov.

What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

Sadness is only one small part of depression and some people with depression may not feel sadness at all. Different people have different symptoms. Some symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, or being “slowed down”
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

Does depression look the same in everyone?

No. Depression affects different people in different ways. For example:

Women have depression more often than men. Biological, lifecycle, and hormonal factors that are unique to women may be linked to their higher depression rate. Women with depression typically have symptoms of sadness, worthlessness, and guilt.

Men with depression are more likely to be very tired, irritable, and sometimes angry. They may lose interest in work or activities they once enjoyed, have sleep problems, and behave recklessly, including the misuse of drugs or alcohol. Many men do not recognize their depression and fail to seek help.

Older adults with depression may have less obvious symptoms, or they may be less likely to admit to feelings of sadness or grief. They are also more likely to have medical conditions, such as heart disease, which may cause or contribute to depression.

Younger children with depression may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, or worry that a parent may die.

Older children and teens with depression may get into trouble at school, sulk, and be irritable. Teens with depression may have symptoms of other disorders, such as anxiety, eating disorders, or substance abuse.

How is depression treated?

The first step in getting the right treatment is to visit a health care provider or mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. Your health care provider can do an exam, interview, and lab tests to rule out other health conditions that may have the same symptoms as depression. Once diagnosed, depression can be treated with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Medications

Medications called antidepressants can work well to treat depression. 

Be compassionate

If your loved one is suffering from depression, try being compassionate and loving. Just as you would help and take care of them if they had fever, the same way try to be helpful, empathetic and kind to those struggling with any mental illness. Understand what they need and set your own realistic expectation for their treatment. 

Share awareness

We need to talk more about mental health. We need to make people understand that mental health is as important as physical health. Making people understand the fact that we don’t “do” depression is a way to start your journey in sharing awareness. 

A lot of people think that mental illness is a choice; some believe it is a luxury. These stereotypes persisting in our society can only be terminated if addressed. There is no shame talking about mental strength or mental illness. Instead, it’s about encouraging a healthy lifestyle that could prevent some mental health problems.

Now that you know the importance of mental health, try to share your experiences with your parents, neighbours, friends.Tell them how to treat people suffering from depression. Participate in campaigns and awareness events that would help you fight against the stereotypes regarding mental illness. Your will to incorporate a small change can bring a big one. And it’s important to note that being mentally strong isn’t the same as acting tough—it’s not about seeing how much suffering you can endure. It’s about taking steps to reach your greatest potential, which often involves asking for help when you need it.

So let us join our hands and promote mental health by talking about it and normalizing its existence. 

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Conclusion

From the article, we broaden our perspective to understand if depressed people are weak or not. 

We conclude that depression is a mental illness which can be treated with proper care and medication. Mental strength has nothing to do with depression other than stigmas imposed by the society.

FAQs: Depressed people are weak 

Are people with anxiety and depression cowardly and weak?

Absolutely not. When you use the word coward or weak it means someone has taken a refuge in it or made it a choice. 

We have to understand that depression or anxiety is not a choice. It needs serious attention to be treated. It is something like if a person gets cancer, would you ever think if the person is coward? Same way you should not relate cowardness with depression.

Rather people who survive depression are the strongest person alive.

Does being poor make you depressed?

Mental illness is never caused by just one thing. Poverty can be one of the contributing factors that interacts with genetics, adverse life events or substance abuse. But so far, the strongest evidence suggests that poverty can lead to mental illness, especially in cases of disorders like depression. But being poor is not the only reason to make you depressed.

Who is more vulnerable to depression?

  Depression is more than twice as prevalent in young women than men (ages 14–25 yr)

What are the 4 types of depression?

 Situational, Biological, psychological and existential Depression

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201704/yes-you-can-have-depression-and-still-be-mentally

https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/topics/live-well/2017/02/depression-is-an-illness-not-a-weakness/

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