Depression is weird. It is a disease but due to its historical stigma, talking about it can be a little tricky. Depression awareness and knowledge has become better as of recently, but unfortunately, it is still widely misunderstood. This can make it hard to talk about the topic with family or friends. People can feel a bit ashamed and guilty when talking about their depression like they’ve have done something wrong to feel this way.
If you plan on having this conversation with a friend there are a couple of things you should be aware of:
You will most likely be offended
Depression has been gaining awareness in recent years but it continues to carry stigmas. Some people may not be familiar with depression and can unintentionally say something that offends you. For instance, people will say of a lot of comments can be a bit irritating like – ”You have nothing to worry about!”, or “Just try to be positive.”
Unless you have depression or are familiar with the disease, it can be hard to understand how it isn’t as simple as looking on the brighter side of things. Just be prepared for these comments and understand that they are not trying to be cruel. Explain to them that depression is not something you can just “snap out of.”
They are going to ask questions
Be ready to answer these questions and try to understand that when they ask them it is because they are trying to understand depression. Be patient and try to help them through these questions so they can understand the disease and how to be supportive.
It is a bit odd telling someone something serious like this for the first time. They can be unsure on how to react; some will react with sadness and others might be shocked. Be open to different reactions – it is going to get awkward so embrace it. It helps to be prepared as everyone has different preconceived ideas about mental illness. This can be a good time to share your knowledge about depression, how it affects you, and what they can do to help.
People will be concerned
Depression is serious but many people think of depression in the worst sense. Explain that concern is good but not entirely necessary all day – every day. Hopefully, you are receiving therapy and working towards a happier you, but let them know they do not need to be worried about your safety as this is a strong stigma carried with depression. This can be a good time to tell them how they can help you. For example, staying active and social is beneficial for everyone but especially for people with depressive disorders.
Depression is never an easy topic to talk about. There are a variety of stigmas rooted in the disease that can make the topic uncomfortable for both parties, but try to be understanding of people’s preconceived ideas. If their actions offend you it is mostly rooted from lack of knowledge. Try to communicate what depression is, what they can do to help, and the things they do not need to worry about. Depression is a serious matter but it is also very common. Your friends and family should appreciate you keeping them in the loop. Depression is a treatable disorder, but it makes the process easier to build a support system of people you can rely on and trust. So break past these uncomfortable conversations and things will be much easier!