Depression has often been called the “invisible” illness. Because symptoms of depression can be difficult to see physically, it’s a tough illness to explain. But even though it may sometimes hide from public view, depression is not rare, unfortunately. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 350 million people in today’s world suffer from depression – that’s 5% of the world population.
Depression can be difficult to diagnose because it shares symptoms with many other illnesses. But even though those suffering from depression may be able to pin-point their experience, those who love them may not notice until it’s too late.
If you’re struggling with depression, you may experience the physical affects of depression, but they may not be visible to anyone but you.
- Sleep may escape you, but the only witness to your early morning insomnia are the stars peeking through your window.
- The shower or car may be the only place that you break into tears, so roommates or family members may be oblivious to the heavy feeling you seem to have in your heart constantly.
- You may not be able to focus, but no one in the office may notice the fact that you skip around from project to project without feeling accomplished.
For most of the time, those looking at you may never guess what you’re going through inside.
Another reason why depression is an invisible is because of the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding mental illness. People who suffer from depression may be told to “get over it” or “just be happier” when they share their struggle with someone. But depression isn’t just about feeling sad, and it isn’t something you can just “snap out of”.
Read more – Living Stigma Free
Insensitive comments can leave those suffering from depression feeling weak and worthless. But when we learn more about depression, we’ll be better equipped to help those around us. We have to create a culture that is empathetic towards those who suffer from mental illness.
If you suffer from depression, you don’t have to stuff your feelings down and put on a perfect face for the outside world. Seeking help early on is the best way to combat mental illness. Talking to trusted friends or family members is important, but so is seeking professional help from a psychiatrist, counselor, or psychologist.
I can’t stress enough that depression is a real illness. It’s easy to look at those suffering from mental illness and just say that they’re wanting attention, or think that they can’t handle life’s highs and lows. But people who suffer from depression suffer as much as those who suffer from a physical illness – or sometimes even more.
Physical illness such as cancer, migraines, and high blood pressure can be diagnosed and treated. But depression sneaks in and out of people’s lives and can be difficult to diagnose and treat.
“It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling — that really hollowed-out feeling.”
– J.K. Rowling
If you are a friend or family member of someone who is suffering from depression, don’t ignore the signs that may not be as obvious as signs of a physical illness. Notice their withdrawals, their lack of motivation, if they’re harming themselves, if their work ethic shifts suddenly, they don’t want to eat, or are struggling to get a good night’s sleep.
If we change the way we talk about mental illness, depression can be visible and those suffering can get help.
This blog was written by Chloe Langr.