In this blog we will answer the question “Who Should I tell about my depression?”
Disclosing that you have depression to other people may be necessary for certain situations and contexts.
This blog will present you a list of people you should disclose your condition to and how you can do it.
Who should I tell about my depression?
Disclosing your depression diagnosis and mental health condition to other people is entirely your call. You need not talk about it if you do not want to.
However, if you are wondering who you should tell about your depression here are a few people that you should consider:
Family that you live with are some people that you should consider disclosing your depression disorder since these are people who might have noticed changes in your condition and would most probably be worried.
Letting them know your condition can help them understand what you are dealing with, provide support as well as understand your needs.
Another important group of people is your friends. Disclosing your diagnosis to people should be to friends that you trust and with whom you can talk about your condition with.
It is also important to know that you can pick and choose which friends you could open up to, there is no reason why you should be forced to disclose information with people you do not trust. For example, with people who are part of your social circle but are judgemental.
When it comes to relatives, you have to remember that it is entirely up to you if you want to discuss this diagnosis with them. If they are supportive reatives, you can talk to them about what you are going through and they can provide you with the support you need.
If you are a parent, discussing your condition with your older children can ve an important step as this can help the child know what is happening to you and help them develop an awareness about depression.
For the case of younger children, it is not really necessary however if you think you should and are able to explain the condition to them, it could be beneficial to them.
Depression need not be disclosed to your employer however, in some cases if you do need leave to treat your condition you might have to share some details about your medical condition.
When it comes to your coworkers, you can let the ones that you trust know about your condition, especially the ones who will be supportive. However, it is generally not advised that you disclose this with management.
Informing your doctors about your diagnosis is also important in the case that you are taking medication so as to avoid drug interactions for other treatments.
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 behavior 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.
What is Depression?
Depression or clinically known as major depressive disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders, is a serious mood disorder where people affected by it experience persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Apart from these emotional distress, people with depression can also experience physical symptoms such as chronic pain, or changes in their behavior such as social withdrawal or slowed movements.
For someone to be diagnosed with clinical depression, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. Let us look at the various symptoms that must meet the criteria for a diagnosis of depression.
The Diagnostic and statistical manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed) DSM-V outlines the following criterion to make a diagnosis of depression.
The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.
These symptoms should indicate change from normal functioning.
- 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.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
To be diagnosed with depression, these symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
These symptoms should also not be the result of substance abuse or another medical condition.
How to manage and maintain a positive state of mental health?
In very simple words, mental health refers to our overall cognitive, emotional, and behavioral wellbeing that is concerned with what we think, feel, and behave.
Mental health is a crucial part of a person’s life as any disruption in their mental well-being can impact their daily lives, their relationships with other people, and also their occupational progress as well.
Interestingly, this relationship between mental health and the various factors such as relationships, jobs, day to day activities is bi-directional meaning that such factors can be affected by our mental health and at the same time, these factors can affect our mental health.
A few things that we can do on an individual’s level to manage and maintain our mental health include:
Seek out therapeutic care
Engaging with a therapist, being diligent with your medication, and making the changes you need to make to get better will determine your prognosis.
If the cost of therapy is becoming a burden consider talking to your therapist for a sliding scale option or the possibility of a pro bono case, and if that is not possible ask your therapist to refer you to someone who can take on your case at a much lower rate or for free.
Your therapist will help you understand what is happening to you, might prescribe you medication if needed, and can help you tap into your own strengths that can help you adapt to challenges, changes, and overcome them.
Join a support group
Another thing you can do for yourself is to join a support group of 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.
Seek out positive relationships
Like seeking out support in groups, seek out positive relationships in your life that do not judge and rather support you as you get better.
These can be friends, family and even past coworkers who offer support and a shoulder to learn on when you need it.
These positive relationships can enable you to heal as well as help you as you move forward in life.
Focus on resting and recovering
The most important thing that you can do for yourself is to rest and focus on recovering, do not rush yourself to get better so that you can go back to school or go back to work.
Instead, take time to eat well, rest well, exercise, give time to yourself to think and engage in things you used to like doing before you started working- be it reading comics, or playing video games, or walking your pet.
Take effort to engage in things that you love doing, explore new activities if you feel like it and explore the world around you.
In this blog we answered the question “Who Should I tell about my depression?” This blog presented you a list of people you should disclose your condition to and how you can do it.
Marie Suszynski. Should You Tell People That You Have Depression? Everyday Health. Retrieved on 25th March 2022. https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/major-depression-health-well-being/who-should-know-about-your-depression/
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.
About Mental Health. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. 28th June, 2021. Retrieved on 25th March 2022. . https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm
Mental health: strengthening our response. WHO. 30th March 2018. Retrieved on 25th March 2022. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response