When no one understands your depression

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Page last updated: 10/11/2022

When no one understands your depression

In this blog we will discuss what you can do when no one understands your depression.

One of the major issues with mental disorders like depression is that it can be extremely isolating because of the lack of awareness and the stigma around the condition. 

Most people with depression struggle due to the lack of support from the people around them simply because they do not understand what depression is. 

What to do when no one understands your depression?

Let us look at some things that you can do if you find yourself in a situation where no one understands your depression. 

Seek support elsewhere

If you have been struggling with depression and have found that the people around you do not understand nor are they willing to understand, one choice that you do have is to seek support from other people. 

It is challenging to accept that the people you love the most do not understand your condition but that does not mean that you remain lacking in support. 

You can choose to reach out to a mental health therapist or a counsellor to help you process your feelings, your thoughts, and build plans for treatment together towards recovery. 

You can also choose to seek out group support for people struggling with depression so that you can experience emotional support first hand within these communities and over time learn how to manage your challenges by learning from each other. 

It is possible that people with depression can also struggle with a sense of worthlessness, a feeling that you have nothing of value to offer. 

By joining a group that is open, empathetic, and growing towards healing, you and your experiences can be an excellent sense of support to someone else who is also in their early part of their journey. 

Recognize Not Everyone Understands

While it can be difficult to acknowledge and accept that the people who are supposed to care about you the most do not understand what is happening to you, it is better to let go than hold on to the hurt.

Their inability or refusal to understand could be causing you more heartache, pain, and a deeper sense of isolation. However it is important to know that the reason for their not understanding could have nothing to do with you.

It is possible that they grew up in environments that were not open to the idea of vulnerability or there has been persistent stigma around depression and other mental illnesses. 

These factors that feed their denial or their refusal to acknowledge your pain and struggle need not be the centre of focus nor should it stop you from getting the help that you need. 

Treat Yourself Well

While it might be hard to take care of yourself- you might find it hard to eat, wash, wake up, and do other basic things. 

It is okay to allow yourself to let yourself go for a few days but making the effort to stick to routine and structure in your day to day life can help you move forward. 

Taking care of your physical needs is very important as it is a way to care for yourself. Taking care of your emotional needs is also important and you can work towards emotional self care after taking care of your physical needs first. 

You can choose to make new changes that help you feel better or healthier like going to the gym, changing your diet to a more healthy one, going for wants. Sometimes change in routines can also be your way of caring for yourself. 

When no one understands your depression

Realise Others May Be Struggling

Another example why someone does not understand your depression could be because people might not be able to offer their support when they are struggling to cope with their own problems or feelings. 

Their inability to provide any internal sources to provide you the support you need does not mean that they don’t care about you; it is just that they just don’t have the emotional strength to take care of others when they are having a hard time caring for themselves.

It is important that you do not take things personally when this happens because internalising this and engaging in self blame or negative self-views can only make it worse. 

End Negative Relationships

Another thing that you can do is to set boundaries with people as well as cut negative people out of your life.

This could mean setting healthy and clear boundaries with people who tend to be overly sceptical about your condition or those who are mean and say hurtful things about your and your struggle with mental health. 

You could choose to clearly tell them about these boundaries or you can remove them from your lives- you have the power to do that. 

Some ways you can cut them out of your life is by either limiting your contact with them or by garnering support from people who do care and facing their snide remarks with positive support. 

As you set boundaries and cut people off, it is important to remember that there is nothing wrong with minimising contact with people who have a negative impact on your well-being, or completely cutting truly toxic people out of your life.

Actively seek positive experiences

According to positive psychology research, positive feelings are an important aspect of well-being. For a person to engage in activities and other experiences that help them feel positive feelings such as love, belongingness, achievement, and a sense of hope is important.

Take active action to seek out these positive experiences in your day to day life. Even if you do not want to, even if your body is refusing to- take that chance for yourself and choose to do something that makes you feel less miserable. 

This could be as simple as watching a movie, petting your cat, taking your dog for a walk, eating ice cream. Do what makes you happy without judging yourself for these choices.

How to tell someone that I have depression?

Making the decision to talk to people in your life about your depression is a big step and it is very important to know that you do not have to talk about it if you do not want to. 

However, if you have decided that you are ready to share your experiences and your condition with other people, there are different ways of doing it. 

When it comes to sharing it with your loved ones, you can bring it up when they notice a change in your behaviour and explain what it is. This can give an opening for the conversation about your condition. 

When you talk to your friends and others about it, you might have to start by asking if they know any one with depression so that you can understand how they feel about it and if you are comfortable talking to them about it. 

If you are ready to talk about it, here are a few things that writers at Verywellmind suggests:

  • Pick a day and time when you are in good condition, you don’t have to force yourself to talk about it on a certain day. If you aren’t reading on the appointed day, then it is okay- ask to reschedule.
  • Choose a private but casual environment such as while taking a walk, shooting hoops, or having a cup of coffee.
  • Remember that you can share as much or as little information as you want because there are no guidelines on what people have to know. 
  • If you are not ready to share a certain aspect about the condition, answer by saying “I’m not ready to talk about that yet.”
  • Try not to worry about what they will think about you, the person you are choosing is someone you trust and who clearly loves you. 
  • Be prepared for some reaction and understand that at times people react in different ways especially when they are uneducated about the matter. Remember that their reaction is not a reflection on you.
  • Educate them about the situation or give them resources. Let the person know how they can help if they are open to it. 
  • Set boundaries if needed. Especially when your friend tries to fix the situation. Let them know you are seeking help and that you would rather have their support.
  • Do not get into a debate with them if they disagree with what you are saying or if they are in denial. You only need to inform them, how they react has nothing to do with you. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed what you can do when no one understands your depression as well as discussed a few steps you can take when you choose to disclose your diagnosis to other people. 

FAQ related to when no one understands your depression

What happens if you don’t treat your depression?

Untreated depression can have the potential to become life threatening as it increases the chance of risky behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, loss of jobs and relationahsips, and unfortunately, death by suicide. 

How do you deal with people who don’t know you’re depressed?

Here are some things you can do to deal with people who don’t know you are depressed:

  • Start a conversation.
  • Educate them
  • Give them space to make their own opinions
  • Don’t take things personally
  • Let them know if you are not ready to talk about certain issues
  • Provide them with resources to learn if they need it
  • Take care of yourself
  • Set boundaries with people who are toxic

Where does depression come from?

There’s no single cause of depression; rather researchers and experts of this field has taken to a multicausal factor of depression. 

This means that depression can occur for a variety of reasons such as a brain anomaly or a generic disposition that is triggered by an upsetting or stressful life event, such as bereavement, divorce, illness, redundancy and job or money worries.

References

Dealing With Unsupportive Friends and Family When You’re Depressed.Nancy Schimelpfening. Retrieved on 29th March 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/unsupportive-friends-and-family-1067469#toc-recognize-not-everyone-understands

Gordon.S. How to Talk to Friends About Your Depression. Verywellmind. Retrieved on 25th March 2022.https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-talk-to-friends-about-your-depression-5089226#toc-disclosing-your-depression

American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association, 2013.