Glamorizing And Romanticising Depression (How to avoid it)

This article we will be exploring how depression is glamorised and romanticised in present day media, we will also explore how it impacts the experience of an actual mental disorder for those who are affected by it.

What can you do to protect yourself from the glamorization of depression?

There are many things  you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from the misleading trend where depression and mental illnesses are being glamorised and romanticised. 

In brief here are a few things you can do:

  • Be mindful of the content you consume. 
  • Block and report is a fantastic tool to be able to exert control over the content you consume. 
  • Regulate content for your children by educating them and creating awareness.
  • Educate others about the glamorization of depression and mental illnesses in the media.

We all know that the happy, picturesque lifestyle of many instafamous people are not necessarily the reality of their lives, there is also a flipside of social media that portrays misery as something trendy or desirable. 

This fad of making emotional distress “trendy” is not a new thing. In fact human beings have always romanticised struggle in poetry, prose, and art- for example, Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet. 

There have been many campaigns that have brought awareness about mental health issues by creating a conversation around it and allowing for a space where people can be open about their personal struggle with mental disorders. 

Social media and other media content that portrays mental health problems allow for people to connect support, and feel less alone in their pain. However, when taken to extremes, these contents have the potential to misguide many. 

What does it mean to glamorize and romanticise mental illness?

When the infamous TV series “13 reason’s why” was released with it’s graphic retelling of suicide, there was a massive upheavel across the internet criticising the show. 

In fact, this is not the only media content on the internet that glamorizes or romanticizes the challenges of living with a mental health disorder and oftentimes it is not so obvious as those that portray self-harm. 

Media content that encourages thinness, and extreme food diets are also part of the issue. Along with content that shares misinformed content about mental disorder symptoms or makes light of the issues of intrusive maldative thoughts or the life threatening condition of insomnia. 

Annie Zhang for elEstoque writes that Glamorization and romanticising these symptoms and conditions reverses the efforts of the-stigmatization of mental illnesses. Rather, it creates an environment of conformity because,

“…It’s “trendy” to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, OCD…”

Zhang goes on to explain that this “trendiness” stems from the preconceived notion that we want to be different, or special. Mental illness  or the label of being mentally ill allows us to move away from the “normal”. The writer goes on to press that, 

“…Nowadays, mental health is fathomed as an accessory — a quirky personality trait.”

Melissa Pandika in her conversation with a clinical psychologist Leora Trub highlights that while people may scroll the internet to feel connected and find healing, the emotional journey of developing insight and coming to terms with the pain is far removed from the content. 

The experience is normalized but the pain and suffering is not, and this causes romanticism and glamorization of mental disorders and psychological issues.

People begin to take light the impact mental disorders such as depression has one someone’s life. 

They take a look at the aesthetics of the pictures, the quotes, and the videos and believe that depression is beautiful and a desirable experience. Like that of a troubled artist to create “true” art or the troubled musician to create hauntingly “beautiful” music. 

This type of content does exactly what it means to romanticise and glamorise: “describe in an idealized or unrealistic fashion”. It makes mental disorders and the pain and struggle of it into something better or more appealing than it really is.

Impact of Romanticising depression on mental health

Researchers from the University of Balamand investigated the effect that the glamorization and romanticization of mental illnesses has on mental health. By gathering a general perspective on teenagers’ and young adults’ experiences and opinions on glamorization and its psychological effect. 

From the study it was clear that there are problems surrounding sensationalization of mental illnesses and it was common amongst participants that used social media frequently. 

The results found that depression, when often exaggerated, was considered appealing. It also led to other people recreating this glamorization of depression that they see on social media. 

The fact that the issues surrounding depression are always tagged along with nearly perfect people with a whimsical quote or a joke  about depression made it appealing to the eye, and made it seem light-hearted- moving away from the intensity of what a mental disorder actually is.

Because of how desirable glamorization tends to make the experience of mental illness, people may overlook the actual issue at hand. For example, a person who wants to portray themselves as being mentally ill may simply do it to feel like they are special or part of something. 

Romanticising a mental disorder can lead them away from the question of why they are doing it and instead manipulate others into doing the same. 

Research also suggests that people who create this content are more likely to reap benefits than those who just consume it. By taking advantage of their own feelings, they can benefit from the affirmations and the support they gain from those who consume their content. 

While these types of content can help them feel supported and connected, it is in no way a replacement for actual treatment and therapy. It might allow them to tap into their emotions but it may not allow them to process their experience in adaptive and healthy ways. 

Glamorizing and romanticising mental health problems can gain you support or can even offer support to others however, most of these content creators do not provide the professional support necessary for people who are actually suffering from depression. 

They are oftentimes misinformed, and their information outdated. Their methods of coping may not work for someone else because each person’s experience of depression is different. 

Protecting ourselves and others

Truth be told, we cannot bring about a worldwide ban on content nor can we enforce strict regulation of content that glamorises depression or other mental illnesses. 

However, there are a few things that we can do to protect ourselves and others. These steps can include:

  • Be mindful of the content you consume. It is important to ask ourselves whether the content is making you feel better or are you mindlessly consuming content or posting content to meet your needs of superficial affirmation and appeasement. 
  • Block and report is a fantastic tool to be able to exert control over the content you consume. When you notice pages that romanticize and glamorise the struggle of mental illness, you can report it and block it from your feed as a way to protect yourself and at the same time, if it does get taken down- protecting others. 
  • Regulate content for your children by educating them and creating awareness about what depression actually is and leaving space for them to explore, ask questions, and communicate freely about their own experiences with their emotions and challenges. 
  • Educate others about the glamorization of depression and mental illnesses in the media , how it impacts the efforts taken to create healthy awareness and the effect it has on people who consume the content. 

Conclusion 

In this guide we discussed how depression is romanticised in the media and how it impacts the awareness and  experience of mental health issues and disorders such as depression. We also briefly touched upon how we can protect ourselves from this particularly dangerous trend of romanticising and glamorizing depression.

Reference

elestoque.org

Theblackandwhite.net

http://www.universitypublications.net/jte/0701/pdf/V7NA374.pdf

Frequently Asked Questions Related To “Glamorizing And Romanticising Depression”

What does it mean to romanticize depression?

Romanticising depression or mental illnesses is to portray it in such a way that it masks the terrifying and debilitating reality of it and instead makes it seem extremely desirable. 

Romanticising psychological issues is not new, it has been around for centuries in books, poems, songs, and cinema. It is about creating this alternate reality where depression makes you seem dreamy, fantastical, and even unique and different that people want to be depressed. 

How is tragedy related to depression?

The overwhelming stress of tragic events such as loss, death, accidents, and natural disasters can lead to mental health concerns. These types of events can lead someone to develop a sense of hopelessness about their present and their future which can eventually aggravate into depression when left unresolved. 

What actually causes depression?

Research suggests that depression doesn’t spring only from imbalances in the brain or the physiology of your brian. While it can make you vulnerable to the disorder, ife events, genetic disposition, stress, medications, and other various factors also have a part to play in triggering depression.

What is the romanticism of mental illness?

Romanticism of mental disorders leads to the creation of a false image about the struggle of mental illness. It creates an uncharacteristic and unrealistic impression of a particular mental illness. 

It can perpetuate more stigma or it can even cause people to self-diagnose themselves with the disorder. It can also discourage people from seeking out the help they actually need. 

What mental illness does to families?

When mental illness enters a family, the emotional cost can be high and family members can be deeply affected. It can impact the way a family functions around the person who has the mental disorder. It affects the spouse and the children as it causes tension and distress. 

Because of the stigma around mental illnesses, a family can become isolated and alienated from its community. It can also cause breakdown of communication and the needs of the family might be left unmet causing emotional distress amongst the rest of the members. 

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