The Truth About Depression

Forever there’s been a misconception about what people who deal with depression look and act like. There’s the stereotype that they often walk around upset, moody, and disheveled, and while that may be half true, it’s just that: half true. Many time people experiencing depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses often look exactly like everyone else. The ones you least suspect are often the ones that suffer the most.

The Person That’s “Always Happy”:

When you think of what depression looks like, you rarely think of someone who’s always smiling and chipper, but people experience depression in many ways. It could be that the person that is “always happy” is great at hiding it. They can turn it on and turn it off like a switch, but on the inside they’re barely keeping it together. Some people are uncomfortable walking around moping because it only invites people to ask questions and questions (especially about one’s) are hard to answer. Or it could even be that when they’re interacting with people they really are happy, but at the end of the day when everyone’s gone and they’re alone with their thoughts, their façade crumbles.

The Person with the “Strong Support System”:

One of the number one things that help people who deal with depression are advised to do  is to reach out to their friends and family, so you’d think that someone with lots of  both would be the ones you wouldn’t have to worry about. But, admitting to friends and family that you’re having trouble coping with everyday life is hard. Even the most loving family members and friends can come across unsupportive unintentionally because they don’t understand or relate. They say things like, “People have it worse than you do so you shouldn’t complain”, “Just think happy thoughts and you’ll be fine”, “You’re just in a funk”, “Cheer up”, and the worst, “You have nothing to be depressed about”. But those phrases are some of the worst to say to someone who is depressed, especially since depression and guilt often go hand in hand. So, a large base of family of friends don’t always mean that the person’s mental health is being supported.

The Person with the “The Perfect Life”:

The person with the picture-perfect life is usually the last one you’d suspect to be depressed. They have the perfect house, the perfect car, the perfect job, and the perfect body…so what does they have to be depressed about? Unfortunately, depression doesn’t discriminate. Even people with the best situations struggle with the anxiety and the pressure to be perfect so that no one sees the truth. No one is perfect and their perfect life just seems that, while things are the polar opposite behind closed doors. Social media also contributes to the idea the people with the “perfect life” don’t deal with depression; what we all know, but often forget, is that social media is just a snapshot (or a 10 second snapchat) of someone’s whole life and could never tell you what they go through when they log off.

The “Social Butterfly”:

The people who are always out at a party are also one of the last people you suspect to be going through something. We always hear that people are depressed isolate themselves, but in some cases people do the exact opposite. Getting lost in the crowd and detaching from their lives has its appeal, people are a lot less likely to pry or notice that you’re struggling when they’re busy trying to enjoy themselves. Not to mention that the party scene offers other escapes like drugs and alcohol. Obviously, not every party boy or party girl is battling depression, but just because they seem like they’re having the time of their life means that they are.

 

The truth is depression doesn’t look like any one way and it is rarely obvious. Of course, not every person that fits the above parameters are depressed, but that’s not the point. The point is that just because that they don’t fit the stereotypical image of what someone who is depressed should look like, doesn’t mean they aren’t. So, be so close and honest with your friends that they feel comfortable coming to you with their problems. And if you know that someone you care about may be struggling, be there for them. If you’re struggling, ask for help. Depression is not romantic or poetic, but it’s also nothing to be ashamed of and you are not alone. You are never alone.

 

University of North Texas Counseling and Testing Services

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Depression Helplines

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