In this article we will discuss Dan Harmon and his thoughts on depression.
Does dan harmon have depression?
Dan Harmon has been very candid about his own struggles with depression and has also landed himself on the trending page, not just for his work on Rick and Morty, but because of the advice that he has given to someone who asked him how to deal with depression.
Recently, a twitter user tweeted at the creator of Rick and Morty asking how to deal with depression, and much to the original poster’s reply, Harmon responded with a four step coping strategy.
On the thread, Harmon wrote:
“Admit and accept everything that is happening” as step one. He went on to say, “We put ourselves under so much pressure to feel good. It is okay to feel bad. It might be something you are good at.”
He also went on to encourage people to speak out, writing:
“Communicate it. Do not keep it a secret. Own it. Like a hat or a jacket. Your feelings are real.”
Harmon did not stop there, he went on to explain feelings and their impact on an individual remind the twitter user that:
“Try to remind yourself over and over that feelings are real but they are not reality. Example: You can feel like life means nothing. True feeling. Important feeling, true that you feel it. “
He goes on to explain that even if your feelings are true, it is not fact.
“But whether life has meaning? Not up to us. Facts and feelings, equal but different.”
Dan Harmon ended his thread by encouraging twitter users to speak out and has been quite encouraging of his fans to talk about their struggles and not to deal with it alone.
Perhaps his advice comes from his own experience with depression and how expressing his feelings has helped him immensely.
In a 2014 interview Harmon noted that blogging has helped him deal with his own distress and that writing down his troubles and his pain has been cathartic for him and his own mental health.
Harmon also famously noted that he has lost all faith in therapy and no longer believes that great works of art come from dark places and he has embraced and accepted his struggle with depression.
On thwarting the stereotype on the troubled artist, He said:
“I’ve met too many very happy, very ingenious people to believe in that. People have different personalities; they have different crutches; they have different processes. I think there are people that go to a dark place when they create. I don’t think that creation requires darkness.”
This particularly keen philosophy is often seen reflected in his work on Rick and Morty and he has made much effort to speak openly about therapy and mental health to the point that it is normalised on the show.
In most of his work he has put effort in destigmatizing the simple act of talking with other people and in this form of encouragement he normalises the fact that mental health issues are common and that no one is alone.
What is depression?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a leading publication used for diagnosis of mental disorders by mental health professionals, Major depressive disorder or depression is a serious mood disorder.
Depression is marked by the following symptoms:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day- either by their own observation or observation made by others.
- Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia.
- A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
Depression symptoms also include extremely low mood and fatigue and is often accompanied by thoughts of worthlessness and hopelessness which can lead to suicidal ideation and even attempts.
Depression related symptoms such as inability to focus, lack of energy, and hopelessness can impact a person’s ability to work and meet the demands of their daily lives.
People with depression often struggle with low self esteem and self worth which can cause them to negatively assess themselves. They may fear rejection and abandonment from other people which may cause them to isolate themselves in a bid to protect themselves.
This social withdrawal can make it difficult for them to maintain social commitments and relationships as they might choose to push people away especially when they do not have the skills to communicate and manage their emotions and thoughts.
While these are some of the ways depression impacts a person, the disorder itself can cause the quality of life of people who have it to drastically decrease and in extreme cases, if the disorder is left untreated, it can lead to suicide attempts and death.
How to cope and manage if you have depression?
Here are a few things you can do to cope with depression:
Seek professional help
If you have not been diagnosed, do not stick to self diagnosis based on your symptoms. Seek out professional consultations starting with your GP who can refer you to specialists in the field.
There may be different medications- some which might work for you while others that might not help you.
Taking time to find a doctor who can help you with estimating the right dosage of medication and the right medical treatment can make the quality of your journey to recovery drastically different.
If it’s a job that is causing you immense stress, maybe it is time to consider taking a leave of absence. Or it could be your own family environment that is causing your symptoms to flare up- consider moving out if your financial situation persists.
The intent here is to reduce or remove the things in your life that add stress. If it is a certain relationship, taking the time to set boundaries or communicate that you are taking time out can be one way.
By reducing stressors, the thought of waking up and facing your day may seem a little less daunting, you might even look forward to it.
Learn and apply coping skills
If you are depressed, you can learn coping skills and techniques and apply them at least once a day when experiencing depression.
This can be learning how to tackle your anxieties and negative moods by regulating your breathing and engaging in deep breathing techniques.
You can also try grounding techniques to help you cope with spiralling down a negative rumination. Make goals for each day and let your goals be small, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound,
Make plans for your day that suit your pace- if today is especially difficult, make a step by step plan from your bed to the bathroom in the mornings. Reward yourself when you succeed and be kind when you slip up. Remind yourself that you are learning.
Engaging in exercise, even if it is only a 15 minute stretch can be a wonderful step towards loving yourself and caring for yourself.
You can opt for joining the gym however, if this is too much you can consider yoga or pilates that you can start gradually; you can also go for walks or runs alone or with your loved ones.
Getting out of your house and doing something that allows you to get your blood pumping in itself can be a great way of self care.
Eat a healthy diet
Diet is an important aspect of overall health and is an important component of maintaining a positive state of mental health.
There has been plenty of research studies that have been linked to what we eat and higher risks of depression. Research finds that well balanced meals with adequate intake of vegetables, fruits, grain, and healthy fats are related to lower risks of depression.
Take time to improve your sleep hygiene. Research has found that sleep disorders are also a core symptom of depression. Irregular sleep and not enough sleep can make your healing process difficult and can even heighten the risk of relapse.
Some of the things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene are
- Avoid substances that impact your sleep, this includes caffeine.
- Exercise daily
- Avoid heavy dinners
- Change your sleeping environment to be more soothing and sleep inducing.
- Make changes in your pre-sleep routine such as taking relaxing baths before sleep, avoiding gadgets two hours before sleeping time.
Connect with loved ones
Reaching out to people who love you and letting them know that you are having a hard time now, can bring you closer to people who truly love and care for you.
These are positive relationships we want and need around you as you begin your journey to recovery. Positive relationships help you discover joys and meaning to your life.
Make plans to meet them for lunch, or go for a walk with them. Make sure you make clear what you can and cannot do and agree on something that both you and them can enjoy.
You can also take the step to connect with other people who are coping with depression through group therapy or support groups.
Oftentimes, listening to other people’s successes can instil hope, it also gives you the opportunity to learn new perspectives of living and life along with new techniques to cope.
In this article we have discussed Dan Harmon and his thoughts on depression.
Derek Beres. ‘Rick and Morty’ Co-Creator Dan Harmon Gives Advice on Coping with Depression. Big Think. Retrieved on 27th April 2022. https://bigthink.com/neuropsych/lessons-in-managing-depression-from-rick-and-mortys-co-creator/
Rokas Laurinavičius. Girl Asks Rick And Morty’s Co-Author How To Cope With Depression, Does Not Expect His Response. Bored Panda. Retrieved on 28th April 2022. https://www.boredpanda.com/dealing-depression-answer-dan-harmon-rick-and-morty/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic