Is Depression My Fault? (7 humbling realisations)

In this blog post, we will address the question, “Is depression my fault?” It will also outline the signs of depression, how people can make you think depression is your fault, and what you should tell people with depression. 

Is Depression My Fault?

No, depression is not your fault, although it is understandable for you to think that just the way many others do. It is challenging to understand why some individuals develop depression. There is a possibility that a combination of factors like genetics, environment, stressors, and even hormonal changes can lead to depression. Similarly, the way you view yourself and your surroundings can exacerbate depressive symptoms. 

It is a common yet debilitating condition. At least one in ten individuals experience an affective disorder in their life. Understanding the signs of depression will enable you to seek help and be on your road to recovery faster. 

Signs of Depression

Let us understand the way depression affects our:

  • emotions, 
  • thoughts, 
  • behaviors, and 
  • body.

Emotions

  • Depressed mood
  • Profound sadness 
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness
  • Emptiness
  • Worthlessness
  • Excessive guilt
  • Numbness 
  • Helplessness 

Thoughts 

  • “I am a failure.”
  • “Nobody likes me.”
  • “I will never get anything right.”
  • “I should give up.”
  • “It will never work out for me.”
  • “I am a loser.”
  • “I am pathetic.”
  • “I should end my life.”
  • “I will always be alone.”

Behaviors

A loss of interest in doing anything, including pleasurable activities;

Difficulty concentrating;

Social withdrawal or isolation; and

Difficulty with work or school as indicated by a drop in performance 

Bodily Changes

  • Sleep difficulties, such as getting significantly less sleep, sleeping too much, or getting disrupted sleep;
  • Fatigue and a loss of energy to engage in primary activities, like showering and eating;
  • Changes in appetite, such as decreased or increased appetite and consequent weight changes;
  • Feeling on edge; and
  • Unexplainable physical concerns, like headache, back and neck pain, gastric issues

People with suicidal thoughts can have it more difficult. Remember that depression is diagnosable and treatable. So, reach out to your general physician or therapist immediately. Alternatively, you can contact the suicide hotline. 

Nowadays, stress is at an all-time high due to the demands of the world. Many people get bogged down by pressures from different aspects of life, including work, school, and family. You must be able to recognize depressive signs to seek appropriate help at the earliest time possible to treat the disorder quickly and effectively. Depression and mental illness, in general, is a common condition, so do not be afraid to reach out. 

 

How People Make You Think Depression Is Your Fault

Sometimes the people around you, media, the internet, and other sources, make you feel like depression is your fault. By understanding this section of the blog, you can identify when someone tries to convince you of this belief and remind yourself that it is not your doing. 

Following are ways that people make you think depression is your fault.

  • “You can snap out of it if you try hard enough.”
  • “Think positively!”
  • “You can easily fix it.”
  • “But, you seem fine.”

“You can snap out of it if you try hard enough.”

Remember that if it were that easy to overcome depression, you would probably have done it a long time ago. Nobody wants to suffer so much if it were that simple to deal with it. Most times, you are doing the best you can with what you have, so it is not a question of trying hard enough. 

Many people who have not experienced a psychological condition or grew up being taught that there is no such thing as a mental illness tend to be of the view that depression is not real, and if it were, it is easy to overcome it. 

Depression is debilitating, and in some cases, so severe that it comes in the way of so many life aspects, including work, social life, and even essential self-care. According to the World Health Organization, it is the second prominent reason for disability on a global level. 

“Think positively!”

Often, people with depression are not allowed to seek a moment of respite. You commonly receive messages that indicate that you need to keep going on, onward, and about. You are told to focus on your recovery and work toward getting better all the time, and you are not making progress because you are not thinking positively and giving it your all.

When depression is boiled down to a lack of effort, it conveys that people with a mental condition are not humans and cannot show vulnerability.    

The plethora of unpleasant emotions, which are not “positive,” you feel are valid and genuine. You can feel grief, fear, and like you want to give in. If you could think positively, you would have by now. There are negative patterns of thought and behaviors that underlie depression, which you are taught and helped to cope with in therapy. 

Therefore, “think positively” is a horrible thing to say to somebody with depression because if it were easy, you would. Instead, people should learn to encourage and support those with depression by validating all of their emotions, including the negative ones. 

If people tell you that you are not doing or being enough and demeaning your vulnerability, they are trying to say that you deserve to suffer. No, you do not; neither did you ask for it nor do you deserve it. 

“You can easily fix it.”

Depression is a manageable condition, but it is not easy in terms of accessibility or the treatment in itself. For some people, it can take a decade or so to get better. Many individuals take many years before they reach out to a professional, and some never receive intervention for several reasons, including a lack of affordability.

Medication and a trained therapist do not suffice for recovering from depression. There are several layers to get treated for the condition, such as:

  • Getting over stigma or cultural conditioning;
  • Accurate diagnosis;
  • Accessibility to appropriate mental healthcare;
  • Financial adequacy, insurance or other resources;
  • Find the right medication, which can take a while for some people as it is based on trial-and-error. A medication that works for one person need not work for you;
  • A proper rapport with your therapist;
  • You have the capacity to gain and comprehend insights into your problems and can articulate them to your physician appropriately; and
  • The patience and time to undergo various interventions to understand what is appropriate for you.

This list is non-exhaustive. Nevertheless, it conveys the challenges that people with depression or any other mental illness face continually and why tis not “easy to fix.”  

“But, you seem fine.”

People tend to have problems with both dysfunctionality as well as functionality. If you push yourself to work and do things despite your depression, people assume that you are okay and are unable to wrap their heads around your mental condition. So, they tell you that you are lying, and it is your doing. They make it your burden, further preventing access to decent healthcare.   

What Should People Tell Someone with Depression

Instead of victim-blaming, people can learn to say considerate things to those individuals suffering from depression. Here is a list of things to tell someone with depression:

  • Validate their feelings;
  • Do not provide advice;
  • Offer suggestions; and
  • Show them you care

Validate their feelings

Instead of disregarding their feelings, irrespective of their functionality, recognize and acknowledge their sufferings. Tell them that you cannot imagine the pain they must be undergoing and that it is genuine and real. Convey to them that you are there for them and provide your support. 

Do not provide advice

Unsolicited advice is one of the worst things people with depression tend to hear. Although your intentions may be in the right place, it is not what they require. Asking them if they have tried a specific thing can be inconsiderate, judgmental, and unempathetic.  

Offer suggestions

Ask them if you can do something to help them. Often, people with depression will decline your offer because they have a challenging time receiving help. Therefore, ask them specific things you can help with, such as fixing something for them to eat, doing their laundry, or getting them something from the grocery store. Remember that depression can impair the ability to perform everyday tasks. 

Show them you care

Let the person with depression know that you care for them by telling them directly. Moreover, show them that you are there for them through kind gestures. This condition can evoke feelings of worthlessness and insignificance, so you must let them know that they matter. 

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

In this blog post, we answered the question, “Is depression my fault?” by conveying in detail that depression is not your fault. The blog outlined the signs of depression, how people can make you think depression is your fault, and what they should tell people with depression instead. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Is Depression My Fault?

Is a mental health condition my doing?

No, a mental health condition is not your doing. A psychological illness does not indicate weakness and is not anybody’s fault or something they choose to experience. It is not something to be embarrassed about.  

Can violent behavior signify depression?

No, violent behavior does not signify depression. However, one study investigated the differences between the criminal records of people with depression and those without depression. The researchers found that depressed individuals were almost thrice as likely as those without depression to engage in violent crimes. 

Why do I feel like everything is my fault?

When you feel like everything is your fault, it is not a result of something with which you were born. You might have experienced specific events that make you believe this. Such thoughts often stem from trauma in childhood.

What can lead to mental illness?

Mental illness can result from biological factors, environmental stressors, hormonal or chemical changes, or an amalgamation of these factors. 

Can depression make you forget?

Yes, depression, anxiety, and even stress can make you forget things. It can also induce confusion, problems concentrating, and other issues that come in the way of daily functioning.

What can trigger anger?

Anger can be triggered by:

Individual issues, like poor performance at work, a breakup, or failing at familial duties;
An inconvenience caused by somebody else, like avoiding you;
Remembering unpleasant memories; and
An unfortunate event, like meeting with an accident

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

Canadian Mental Health Association. (n.d.). For Youth: Learn about Depression. Heretohelp. Retrieved from  https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/infosheet/for-youth-learn-about-depression.   

Finch, S. D. (2019, July 30). 4 Ways People with Mental Illness Are ‘Gaslit’ Into Self-Blame. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/gaslighting-mental-illness-self-blame.  

Schimelpfening, N. (2020, March 22). Is It Your Fault That You’re Depressed? Verywellmind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/is-it-my-fault-that-im-depressed-1066597.  

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Sara Quitlag is an Applied Psychologist, with a deep interest in psychopathology and neuropsychology and how psychology impacts and permeates every aspect of our environment. She has worked in Clinical settings (as Special Ed. Counselor, CBT Therapist) and has contributed at local Universities as a Faculty member from time to time. She has a graduate degree in English Literature and feels very connected to how literature and psychology interact. She feels accountable and passionate about making a "QUALITY" contribution to the overall global reform and well-being. She actively seeks out opportunities where she can spread awareness and make a positive difference across the globe for the welfare of our global society.