Writer’s note : Disclaimer, dearest readers! This article is not meant for diagnosis or treatment. It is merely for informative purposes and to raise awareness among the general public. If you or someone you know have such struggles, we strongly urge you to seek professional help from a Psychiatrist or other trusted mental health professionals.
Depression is a master manipulator, a beast. It spins negative stories and makes you think these tall tales are cold, hard facts.
But they’re really cognitive distortions (Tartakovsky, M.S., 2016).
According to a licensed psychologist, Dr. Deborah Serani (2014), depression is an illness so slick and cunning, that sometimes you don’t realize the scope of its life-threatening power until you’re drowning under its wave.
It attacks your mind, body, and soul by seizing your neurochemistry, weakening your neural pathways, distorting your thoughts, exhausting your body and leaving you emotionally vulnerable. And as depression rails against you, it challenges everything you know, trust and believe. It deceives and mangles in ways that make depression one of the most lethal of mental illnesses (Serani, 2014).
So, below are 9 lies that depression tells you and manipulates your mind :
- Things will always be this way
You : Nothing I do will make any difference, so why bother? Things will always be this way.
You find yourself having such a thought after waking up one winter morning. Small and simple acts such as getting up and taking a shower start to feel impossible for you.
As stated by a clinical psychologist, Dr. Lee H. Coleman, PhD, ABPP, in his book Depression: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed, depression can be utterly painful, and because it makes you interpret problems more internally, you assume your suffering is permanent. The good news is that most people feel better within a matter of months — and even more quickly when they seek treatment.
Truth : There are many ebbs and flows in life – there will be better times beyond your present struggle.
2. “You’re not trying hard enough”
You : I am so weak and lazy. I am not trying hard enough…that’s why I am such a failure.
Depression will tell you that you are weak and lazy. It will con you into believing that you’re not medically ill … and if you’d just only work harder at things, you’d feel better (Serani, 2014).
Truth : Depression is a very real illness that affects emotional, social, behavioural and physical health (Palazidou, 2012). Like cancer, heart disease or diabetes, you cannot will it away or readily snap out of it.
3. “You’re a burden”
You : I am such a burden. I am paralyzed from hip down, and now I am relying on the people around me to help me in doing simple daily activities.
Cherry & Morin (2020) state that social support is often identified as a key component of solid relationships and strong psychological health. It refers to the psychological and material resources provided by a social network to help individuals cope with stress. Such social support may come in different forms, and might involve:
- Helping a person with various daily tasks when they are ill or offering financial assistance when they are in need
- Giving advice to a friend when they are facing a difficult situation
- Providing caring, empathy, and concern for loved ones in need
According to Baumgartner & Susser (2013), social integration is the actual participation in various social relationships, ranging from romantic partnerships to friendships. This integration involves emotions, intimacy, and a sense of belonging to different social groups, including being part of a:
- Religious community
- Social activity
Experts suggest that being integrated into such social relationships confers a protective benefit against maladaptive behaviors and damaging health consequences.
According to Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas, a Science Director of the Greater Good Science Center at The University of California, Berkeley, physiologically, not having a social support system is actually a source of chronic stress for our bodies. Studies show that when people feel lonelier they have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Experiments have shown that simply holding someone else’s hand lessens an individual’s emotional response in the brain to a perceived threat. (The effect was even greater if the person’s hand you were holding was a spouse.) (Coan, Schaefer, Davidson; 2006). Another oft-cited experiment found that individuals actually perceived a hill to be steeper if they were standing at the bottom alone compared with when they stood at the bottom with a friend, Simon-Thomas notes. “Just having another person there and present, who you trust and feel safe around makes the world look like a less challenging place.”
Truth : It is okay to become dependent on the people that you love. People who love you really want to help, and they never think of you as a burden. This interdependence breeds more love towards each other.
4. “You’ll never get through this.”
You lost your wife due to an airplane tragedy. You are supposed to fly together with her, but because you have a meeting that you need to attend, you ask her to fly first and you will take the next flight. After the tragedy, you start blaming yourself and saying to yourself you will never get through this. You are like in a convoluted maze, there is really no way out.
Depression often hinders a person’s ability to problem solve, and may lead to self-destructive or life-threatening decisions. Dr. Deborah Serani (2014) states that depression colours our perception in such a dark and narrow way that it seems like there’s no way out. However, as you start recovering, you’ll be able to see positive solutions.
Truth : You’re so much stronger that you realize. You’re capable, resilient, and deserve to live in the better moments that are to come. Never blame yourself, you can never predict what would happen. If you already know about the impending tragedy, you will never ask your wife to board on that flight.
5. You’re broken and unfixable
You : I am such a useless and worthless person. I have no job, I am not as pretty or skinny as those girls on instagram, no one would ever love me for who I am.
Depression has a way of making you feel useless, worthless and utterly unlovable. When you’re depressed, you’ll believe that no one wants to be the listening ear to your sadness or troubles. You’ll be convinced you‘re undeserving of love, tenderness, and attention from others. Depression will exterminate your confidence and invalidate your sense of worth.
Truth: Research shows that negative thinking is the linchpin responsible for low self-esteem (Brown, 1990). So, in order to battle depression, learning how to use positive self-talk is crucial. Psychotherapy is a great way to retrain your mindset. Treatments will help you ground yourself with realistic truths about who you are, the strengths and talents you possess, as well as owning your flaws and weaknesses. You can learn to love yourself — as well as allowing others to love you — not in spite of your depression, but with acceptance of it.
6. “Nothing matters.”
You : Nothing ever matters anymore. I am so exhausted and tired of this world. I don’t care anymore. It’s no use of trying, as my condition would never change.
Depression will persuade you into believing people and things no longer hold value for you. Dread and apathy reign supreme where happiness and meaningfulness once ruled. You become less and less connected to things in your life. Depression demolishes your world until it becomes a space of infinite emptiness. You don’t care anymore. You don’t try anymore. It’s all futile (Huesmann, 1978).
Truth: Depression creates this helplessness by overriding your ability to control aspects of your life. Without direction and a sense of purpose, you slowly become powerless. Again, talk therapy offers ways to offset these self-defeating thoughts. It’ll take practice and patience, but when you change your thoughts, you change your world.
7. “Being alone is better.”
You : I don’t want to go out. I don’t even feel like calling my mother. Being here, lying on my bed, ruminating about things is better.
Depression isolates. It ingrains a belief in you that being alone is safer. That it’s more comfortable to reside in a solitary place than be connected and supported with others.
Truth: Studies show that depression worsens when we cocoon ourselves from others (Steger & Kashdan, 2009). You will likely have to really, really push yourself to be with others — or allow others to pull you out of the black hole of depression. But it will be worth it. Social attachment, interpersonal connections, even hugs and affectionate touch raise levels of oxytocin, a natural pain reliever and feel-good hormone. The truth is that being with others who support you and believe in your recovery exponentially reduces depressive symptoms.
8. “You’ll never amount to anything.”
You : Even if I succeed in my business endeavour, people would still view me as a college dropout. I will never amount to anything.
Depression convinces you that even if you can feel better, you’ll never be or have anything of value. Depression will deform your positive beliefs and strike down your dreams. It’ll leave you vacant. And depression decays any optimism for greater things.
Truth: Many who have struggled with depression can live full, productive lives. In fact, many high profile people, including President Abraham Lincoln, Writer J.K. Rowlings, Artist Michelangelo, Actor Harrison Ford, Choreographer Alvin Ailey, Actress Courteney Cox, Entrepreneur Richard Branson, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Rocker Bruce Springsteen and Baseballer Ken Griffey, Jr. have been very successful in their chosen professions (Serani, 2011).
9. “Suicide is the way out.”
You : This is too much to handle. I want to be free of this pain. Maybe by dying would lessen my pain…
Depression, at its absolute worst, erodes your ability to think and reason. It keeps your focus rigid, narrow and dangerously limited to believing that dying by suicide can relieve you from your emotional and physical pain.
Truth: Getting immediate intervention will diminish depression’s lethal hold on you. With psychotherapy and/or medication, your symptoms of depression will lessen (Mann, 2005). As you recover, you will likely be surprised that you ever thought of dying by suicide because possibility, promise and hope have appeared in your life again.
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