In this article we will discuss a highly debated opinion of how depression can make a person stronger. We will take a closer look at what resilience is and how it affects a person’s quality of life and well-being.
Does depression make you stronger?
Depression might not necessarily make you stronger in the sense that you will not be affected by challenges in life but with the right kind of treatment and the right support that you need, depression can lead you to become more resilient.
This means that while you might be affected by various future changes, you will have the ability to withstand these challenges.
Depression: An overview
Depression is not a light-hearted condition. It is not simply a “phase” where a person is “lazy” or sad but rather it is a disorder that has been likened to an epidemic with almost 300 million people in the world today, affected by it.
It is an overwhelming condition that can take control of your feelings, your thoughts, and your behaviour to the extent that people often describe their conditions as a war or a battle- having to fight to live every single day.
It can take control of your physical health, your sleep, your diet. It can also impact the way you see yourself and other people which will lead to challenges in your own self-esteem and your relationship.
It can even lead to death by suicide and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and worthlessness. People with depression then see their lives and themselves based on very negative beliefs which are not objectively true.
Depression can cause a person to lose out on many things that their lives have to offer- satisfying relationships, a successful and happy career, a healthy body, and a healthy life in general.
The impact this disorder has on people has been widely studied and its causes has been underscrutinity to understand what depression is caused by and what we can do to prevent it or even treat it.
Studies find that there are neurobiological factors that cause depression such as imbalance in neurochemicals or structural defects of the brain. Other factors also include early life experiences, family genetics, trauma, sudden unwanted changes, life transitions, lack of support, and lack of mental resilience.
As of today there is no cure to depression, however, people who do have depression and other mental illnesses are able to live their lives to satisfying degrees with treatment, therapy, and lifestyle changes.
Does depression make you stronger?
There is a lot of debate surrounding the conversation around calling a person who is struggling with depression “strong” because it tends to put a lot of pressure on that person to keep going when they find themselves unable to.
Attributing strength by forcing them on a pedestal that they might not even want can do a lot more harm instead of encouraging them. A lot of people who are struggling with depression often find themselves unable to get out of bed and take care of simple daily needs like brushing their teeth, eating a meal.
They also tend to be highly critical about themselves and even more so when they see that they are unable to be “normal” or a “functioning human being”. It is when a person is in that stage of simply trying to cope, the idea of becoming a victor over their journey of recovering from depression almost seems impossible.
However, there is much to be said about developing resilience over time as you get yourself treated for depression and are actively making lifestyle changes to manage the symptoms and lead a healthy, satisfying life.
Depression might not necessarily make you stronger. Stronger in the sense that you will not be budged by the occasional strom that heads your way or that you will remain unfazed by the stressors in your life.
However, with the right kind of treatment and the right support that you need for your therapist, your family- depression can lead you to have well-informed lifestyle changes that can make you more resilient.
This means that while you might be affected by various future changes even after experiencing remission in your treatment, you will have the ability to withstand these challenges.
Your journey as you get treated for depression through therapy, you can develop new perspectives and beliefs about yourself and the world/life which can help you bounce back after any hiccups and keep growing.
Stories of Resilience
Let us take a look at the stories of a few people who say that depression has made them stronger and has enhanced their lives in general. These stories highlight the changes that depression has forced them to make and they attest that they are better for it.
Geraldine Walsh for The Irish times writes of her experience with depression after she got pregnant and became a mother. She says that depression stole her time, her memories, her chances at happiness and her sense of power and control over her own life.
However, today she has fought for her recovery and she has now learned to manage and live with it. She is confident in her truth that depression has made her stronger as she learned so much more about who she is as a person. She writes,
“…I’ve turned this experience around to recognise how strong, determined, passionate and brave I am. A mental health warrior. We don’t wear our scars, our hurt, our fears like a badge of honour or let it define us. But we can recognise how powerful we are to have fought through the clouds and stand up to breathe the fresh air.”
She celebrates her own strengths and she relishes in her new found sense of power and control she once thought she had lost. By addressing her limits, she has also begun to look at things in new perspectives and has taken the courage to be kind to her own fears.
Walsh writes that depression in itself is not the thing that makes her strong but the changes in mindset, perspectives, beliefs, and the way she treats herself- emotions, thoughts, and behaviours- with kindness and unconditional regard has made her get to know herself in a different light- as a strong warrior capable on handling her own mental well-being.
Five ways that depression has enhanced the life of Caroline Catlin has led her to the opportunity of personal growth.
Catlin for Healthline writes that Depression magnified her sense of compassion. She writes that the same empathy she had for others has been able to direct it towards herself. She has become less judgemental of her own feelings and thoughts as well as for other people’s lives.
Gratitude and authentic relationships are also part of the changes she had experienced as she lived through depression. She writes that going through the struggle has made her more grateful for the simple things in life that she had taken for granted, such as her friends and family who have only enhanced her wellbeing by being a source of support and care.
Depression has also forced her to be the advocate for her own needs and her journey of healing has helped her to pick up the skills- such as direct communication- to be able to express her need for help and get it.
She also writes that struggling with depression and the desperation to live and survive has made her realise how strong she actually is and how much she is capable of, which only helped her feel more confident in handling herself.
In a testimony by Roro Asmar for NAMI he stresses that the vulnerability he embraced during his fight with depression only made him stronger.
He had actively shunned toxic masculine beliefs of “being a man” and instead embraced the fact that he was in pain and suffering with kindness and non-judgment.
He also writes with conviction that his acceptance of himself as being purely human in his suffering was the bravest thing he did. He goes on to say,
“…I am comfortable and confident enough in myself to accept and face my demons. I’m no longer ashamed of my depression. And being self-aware and brave enough to face my emotions fills me with more manly strength and pride than any action hero ever did.”
It is interesting to note that all three stories speak of an unconditional kindness towards themselves on days and instances where they cannot be in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour.
The change in the way they treat themselves in those moments makes for them to become more resilient and confident in the way they recognize their strengths which make them stronger.
In this article we have taken a look at three instances when overcoming depression has built personal resilience. We have also briefly discussed whether depression can make you stronger or whether it is the changes that we make within ourselves and our lives that lead to strength and growth.
Frequently asked questions related to “Depression makes you stronger”
Does resilience reduce depression?
Resilience cannot directly reduce depression however it can protect you from the various risk factors that can cause depression. Resilience can also help you to manage symptoms of depression, live and cope with it effectively. It can also reduce the likelihood of relapse and can lead to personal mental growth.
How does resilience relate to mental health?
Resilience is the process of finding healthy ways to adapt and cope with adversity and distress. It can help protect us from the various risk factors that can cause mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and traumatic stress.
Resilience can help those of us who already have mental health conditions cope better and even prevent relapse. Resilience is linked to higher quality of life and a sense of well-being.
Are people with mental disorders strong?
Many individuals who have a mental illness are mentally strong to be able to survive and cope with their mental health conditions.
When people seek out help, it takes immense courage to be able to seek help, talk about their vulnerability and make effective change even when they feel like they simply can’t.
Are mentally ill people mentally weak?
People with a mental illness aren’t mentally weak. They aren’t lazy or cowardly either. They struggle with the pressures and demands of their daily lives with the added challenge of cognitive, emotional, and behavioural discrepancies.
In Spite of these challenges people with mental illness are able to cope with their lives as they make the changes necessary and get the treatment they need to lead satisfying lives.
Does depression make you mentally weak?
Depression isn’t the same as being ‘lazy’ or ‘weak’ . Living with depression can mean that people struggle to get out of bed, get to school or work, or take part in activities that they used to enjoy.
It’s like they have this huge weight on their backs that hold them back. From the outside people might think they aren’t trying enough or giving it their all as compared to their healthy counterparts.
The truth is, most people are not equipped to deal with life stressors or events that impact them mentally or the various physiological factors at play which they have no control over.
A person who has depression is someone with an illness that is taking over their sense of self and their lives. This makes it hard for people to recover or cope especially when the world does not provide systems of support for such a disability.