(This is a disclaimer that this article is for educational purposes and is based on personal opinions. This article is not a substitute for professional advice, but general guidance. We advise you to always listen to your intuition and always do what is right for you.)
Is your loved one suffering from depression? Have you ever wondered what’s really on the mind of people with depression? What do they want the world to know?
Welcome back to Psych2Go. Depression is a serious mental illness that affects millions of people. It is an illness that has been widely discussed in recent years in general, yet there are still so many misconceptions about what it actually is It is really tough to live with depression. And with all the stigma surrounding it, it can be hard at times to communicate what they are feeling. Especially when everyone is telling them what they should do, instead of listening to their needs. It can make them feel like nobody understands, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
The goal of this article is to give some insight into some details about the feelings of depressed people that most people don’t know or understand. I’m going to share 13 things people with depression want you to know so that people who don’t have it can better understand what it’s like for those who do. Let’s dive in!
1. A depressed person does not necessarily look or behave sad.
Depression is a complex illness affecting the brain and it does not equate to sadness at all. Those who suffer from depression can be happy with their lives but still feel very down inside. A lot of people don’t realize that there are actually different types of depression. Just like how there are different types of cancer, depression is the same way. There’s major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, bipolar disorder, and so on. And it can be really hard to deal with at times despite what you might see on the surface. There is so much more than just crying and looking sad.
2. Depression does not define the personality of a person suffering from it.
People who suffer from depression are more than just their illness. It may be part of who they are but not all there is about them. Each individual has a different personality and happiness means something different for each person.
3. It does not necessarily mean that a depressed person has low self-esteem.
People with depression can have very high self-esteem, but the illness itself makes it hard for them to perceive things as good or bad. Even if they might think something really positive about themselves, their perception gets distorted and instead of feeling great about themselves, they can feel worthless and awful about what they are doing, sometimes even thinking they do terrible things to deserve being punished by life. Everyone is entitled to have feelings of worthlessness from time to time, however, people with depression experience way more often than others without such conditions.
4. Depression is never a choice.
People who suffer from depression do not choose to feel that way or act that way. Living with depression can be hard enough as it is, and you might notice that they tend to say “I don’t want to feel this way” occasionally. Sometimes, there’s also no apparent reason why someone develops depression. The illness itself rewires the brain, making it harder for them to make choices on their own. This could mean that they can’t really help how they are feeling without some external help such as medication or therapy. Those who deal with depression do not choose to be depressed, it is just a part of their life. They have to find ways of dealing with it and living the best they can despite what their mood might tell them.
5. People with depression do not want to die, they just don’t want to live like they do.
When somebody has depression, this doesn’t mean that they lack the will to live. They just find life extremely hard to bear even though on the outside, it might seem like there’s no reason for them to feel like this. Living with such intense feelings can be so debilitating that it feels impossible to bear sometimes. It’s not easy to explain what having depression feels like but many people who suffer from depression describe their feelings with – words like dark, heavy, or tight, etc. Since they’ve always wanted to escape from their pain, you often hear them saying that they don’t want to kill themselves but instead die in their sleep out of mental exhaustion. When people suffering from depression feel unwell and miserable, they might not be fully aware of what they actually wish for.
6. People with depression want to feel loved just like everybody else.
No one wants to be disliked, neither do depressed individuals. However, if someone gets abandoned and disliked by their family or friends when being diagnosed with depression, it can make things so much worse. Having a mental disorder is no excuse for mistreatment from people around you. However, there are some people with depression who are not sensitized to love. It does not mean that they have no desire to love or feel loved. It just means that they want to feel better before they’re able to take on anything else, yet it’s always a great help if somebody is always there and available for them nonetheless by giving them unconditional love and support when necessary; while patiently waiting for them to recover.
7. Having a depressed friend doesn’t mean you need to fix them, nor that they are toxic to you.
This is one of the most important things to keep in mind when someone you know suffers from depression. People with depression are often excruciated by how they feel. Although it might seem like their illness and adverse feelings could drain your energy, but having a depressed person around isn’t always bad – mostly because if you let them, they’ll be there for you until the very end no matter what. The best way to support your friend would be just to listen without being preachy and try not to be judgemental. It’s always better to make them feel at ease when they confide in you and try to accept their depressive mood when it gets hard for you. It’s also better to ask them what they need or how you can help them before trying any actions that might make things worse instead of better. Just make sure they know that you’re not going anywhere while learning to embrace them despite their circumstances.
8. Depression has nothing to do with being weak.
Depression is not a weakness. People who are suffering from depression might not be able to get out of bed every morning or cope with everyday stress, but that doesn’t mean they’re less worthy. It’s easy to confuse their predicament with laziness and call them weak, selfish, or even annoying because we don’t see what they really go through every day. Still, it’s important to understand that if your friend can’t cheer up like everybody else does, it’s not because of the lack of effort – on the contrary, fighting against something so dark and intense could take its toll on them and that could be hard to see from the outside.
9. It’s important to be aware of their common triggers.
People who suffer from depression usually know what sets off their dark mood and might even avoid certain places or objects in order to protect themselves. If they previously told you that something specific makes them feel terrible, try to refrain from cheering up your friend by suggesting activities that could trigger them and worsen their condition. Don’t take this personally either when your favorite movie night suddenly becomes too much for someone close to you – it’s not an attack on you but a difficult situation where they have no other choice as it’s really hard for them too.
10. Don’t make them feel like they are wrong if they talk about suicide.
No one wants to be born just to die. There’s always a reason why some depressed people want to end their life. Many of them secretly wish to end their lives because they can’t imagine living like this for the rest of their lives, yet that doesn’t mean that every suicidal person wants to act on those thoughts or that people should avoid bringing that topic up. If someone says something along the lines of ‘I wish I wasn’t alive anymore’ it doesn’t mean you need to tell them they’re wrong or simply ignore their remark – alternatively, giving them validation and showing them your support no matter what could be beneficial, even if it means risking to get your feelings hurt.
11. Do not compare sufferings.
Do not compare the sufferer of emotional pain to someone who is dealing with physical pain. One is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain while the other is caused by an injury. One might be more painful than the other, but this is not always true. Questioning their pain will only contribute to the stigma. For example, words like: “I’ve felt just as bad before and I got over it. You can get over this too!” or “You should stop feeling so sad, you don’t know what real sadness feels like.” or the famous quote: “The African children have their life worse than you when they have to deal with food shortage every day, so be grateful for your life!” Depression isn’t something people decide to have. Nobody wants to suffer from depression and it has nothing to do with being weak, lazy, or “too free”. For people who are not affected by this disease, understand that it takes a lot of strength to deal with the pain every single day, and just living their life often ends up being more difficult than it might seem from the outside.
12. Do not judge their way of coping.
For some people, talking about their feelings is what helps them most; but others might need something different – no matter how strange it seems. If someone told you they feel better if they write songs all night long – let them! Even if you think there’s another way that is more helpful or logical, sometimes you might need to step back, knowing that there is no ‘one true cure’ for everybody.
13. Give them space.
No matter how much they like spending time with others, sometimes too much social contact such as gatherings and phone conversation can be mentally draining and they need to be alone in order to regain some of their strength – it doesn’t mean that they’re withdrawing from the world or that they don’t like you and don’t want to engage with you anymore! Instead of trying to push them into hanging out or talking with you constantly, respect their wishes and give them as much space as they need in order to come back full of energy and ready for whatever’s ahead.
Over the years, more and more people want to know more about depression and study the minds of people suffering from it. In real-life situations, the core step is to be compassionate and understand how they feel inside and be their listener. It’s a long process to understand why they are feeling certain ways, but there are ways to make their life easier and brighter again if we all work together as a community. It’s time for us all to come together and help those in need to feel loved and understood.
What are your experiences with people with depression? How do people around you perceive your depression? I hope you learned something from this article. Thank you so much for reading and remember to keep your mind open and your heart strong if someone close to you suffers from it! As always, if you want more content like this, don’t forget to share this article with those who might benefit from it, so that they know they are not alone in their struggles. Stay healthy!