Despite the many campaigns to increase mental health awareness, it seems there is still a long way to go, even with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Why, I ask myself, are people still struggling to understand the ins and outs of these conditions? Naturally, if you’ve never experienced depression yourself, it can be hard to sympathise with those who have. The idea of depression simply being a ‘low mood’ is common and we all have those from time to time, so what’s the big deal, right?
Well, depression is not just a low mood and anxiety is not just worrying about something, they are full-blown illnesses, often with depression bringing bouts of anxiety too. The symptoms can be crippling, whether that’s ongoing feelings of unhappiness or being tearful. Physically, sufferers from depression can be prone to sleeping problems, aching, and even loss of appetite. Depression therefore needs to be cared for just like any other condition, and you should treat people with depression with the utmost respect. Teasing people that depression is not real is not the right attitude.
Sometimes though, depression can be tricky to spot. In fact, it’s possible that someone close to you could be suffering from depression, and you wouldn’t even know about it. Putting on a confident and happy front to hide the feelings of depression is not unheard of and it makes it even harder to help people. How many times have you read on the news about celebrities who go to seek treatment for depression, but have been gracing the red carpet and smiling for years?
You look happy, but you don't feel happy. That's what depression does to you.
— Shumaila (@shumaila_10) April 22, 2018
You see, a person with ‘smiling depression’ may indeed have a good life on the surface. A stable job, a loving family, and a good social life. Everything about their life seems normal. For this reason, they keep their depression hidden, perhaps feeling ashamed to admit they are depressed, or not wanting to cause a problem for others. This could be worse than someone being open about their mental health issues, because if no one is providing the necessary support, the depression will only get worse.
So, what can you do to help? Whilst you don’t want to push someone to admit they’re suffering, as this can be stressful, if you think someone is experiencing ‘smiling depression’ have a calm conversation with that person. Offer your support, and encourage them to seek help, and above all, be sympathetic.
Always treat people with love and dignity, as you never know what could be going on behind closed doors. Depression is real and it’s serious.
Photo credit: Pixabay