Reviewed by Whitney White, MS CMHC, NCC., LPC
DEPRESSION IS REAL
It is hard enough to deal with depression, but what can make it even more difficult is when your friends and loved ones do not understand. Even with all the new information and data, there are still quite a few people out there who do not believe that any mental illness is real. Yet over 17 million people in the United States suffer from depression.
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE SAY DEPRESSION IS FAKE?
Many People Just Do Not Believe
Many people just do not understand and will say that depression is fake or that there is no such thing. They may think you are just acting sad to get attention or get out of doing something you do not want to do. Others may even tell you to get over it and that you are just lazy and weak. These people probably do not mean any harm. They just do not understand.
A lot of the problem is that family members who strongly disbelieve in mental illness will instill their thoughts onto their other family members. Many children are brought up to think that mental health issues just feel they can (and should) get over. In some families, it may be a rule that you just keep these things to yourself.
Cultural Differences May Play A Part
Certain cultures are like that, as well. While the rest of the world is finally embracing mental health care, there are whole groups of people who do not believe in any kind of mental condition. It may be considered taboo for anyone to talk about their feelings or emotions to anyone. This is one of the most common reasons why people do not get the treatment they need.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF DEPRESSION?
Unfortunately, many people who have depression symptoms do not seek help because they are embarrassed or afraid. Or they may just have no idea what is wrong with them. It is important to know the symptoms to watch out for, which include:
- Feeling sad for no obvious reason for more than two weeks.
- Chronic fatigue no matter how much you sleep
- Lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Isolating yourself from others
- Feeling worthless or hopeless.
- Sleeping more than normal or not being able to sleep
- Trouble concentrating and making decisions
- Lapses in memory
- Eating less or more than usual.
- Gaining or losing weight
- Feeling irritable or angry for no reason.
- Restlessness or anxiousness
- Moving or talking slower than usual
- Random aches and pains or just feeling off
- Digestive issues
- Thinking of death or suicide
If you or someone you know has more than a few of these symptoms, it is a good idea to talk to someone. Or you can try taking an online depression test.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN SOMEONE SAYS DEPRESSION IS FAKE?
So, what can you do when someone tells you that depression is fake or that you are faking it? That depends on who it is. If it is just some random person whose opinion you do not care about, let it go. It is not worth it. But if it is a loved one like a family member or a friend, it is important to help them understand.
Give Them the Facts
You can Google depression and print out all sorts of studies that prove depression is real. You can even buy books to show them and explain to them that it has been proven repeatedly in more than 300 million people all over the world. Show them the experts’ results of thousands of studies. Many of them have found that although two-thirds of people with depression do not get help, 80% of those who do will show improvement within a month of getting treatment.
Let Them Know How It Feels
Maybe it would work to help them know how it feels. Take them through a day in your life when you are feeling down. Better yet, let them read your journal if you have one. Of course, many people do not feel comfortable doing that, and that is understandable. But maybe you could write down what goes through your head during one of your “down” days and show it to them.
Take Them Through A Day in Your Shoes
If this person is someone who cares about you, they will be happy to try to understand. Let them experience your turmoil and exhaustion firsthand by being there with you. Maybe they can tell in the way that you talk or move. Some people talk or move more slowly when they are depressed. They may also be able to understand if they see how much you want to feel better.For example, let them see how much time you have spent researching depression, talking to therapists and psychiatrists, all the medications you have tried, and all the other self-help things that are supposed to work.
Make Sure They Know What They Are Really Saying
Explain to them that when they say depression is fake, they are really saying that they do not believe you or are faking. When they say that people who say they have depression are just lazy, they call you lazy.
If All That Does Not Work
If you have tried until you are blue in the face to show them how depression feels, that it is not a choice you made, and they still do not get it, maybe you can get them to talk to a professional. There are plenty of therapists who can talk to you and your family or friends in person or online. You probably cannot convince them to do it in person but trying an online chat may benefit you both.
Consider setting boundaries with people who are unwilling to look at the information and listen to you about your depression. You may choose to interact with them less if possible, and you can also create an emotional boundary by not taking in the false information they share about depression. You know the facts!
Do Not Let Them Get You Down
How can you get better if you have someone constantly telling you that you are faking it? Would they say the same thing if you had cancer or diabetes? Listening to someone who does not have your best interest at heart can be dangerous. Your recovery from depression is dependent on more than just therapy or medication. You also need the support of those who really care about you.
Avoiding those who bring you down is one of the first things you should do when you have depression. Working with a therapist to determine where boundaries may help and how to set and enforce them can be very beneficial.
Help Yourself, Not Them
Make sure that you are concentrating on yourself, not them. It is not your job to convince them that you are not just faking it for attention. The truth is you need to help yourself. Do not wait for them to decide that you are for real.
Rather than convincing others that depression is not fake, spend that energy on making yourself feel better. Do something that helps your mood. Take a walk to get some exercise. After all, any kind of physical activity will increase your endorphins, which are the hormones that make you feel happy.
Get Out and Enjoy The Sun And Fresh Air
Another way to start feeling better is to get outside. Enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. The sun provides you with vitamin D, which increases serotonin, another hormone that makes you happier. It will also help regulate your sleep schedule so if you are feeling fatigued, get out in the sunlight. Take the dog for a walk. Do some yard work—anything that gets you outside in the sun and fresh air.
TRY TALKING TO A PROFESSIONAL
Another thing that can really help is to talk to a professional. You do not even have to leave the house because there are thousands of mental health professionals online who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can talk to them online from your computer with a face-to-face computer chat, use Skype, text with your phone, or even use email. If you would rather, you can even talk to them on the phone. But do not ignore what you are feeling. To find out if you may be suffering from depression, take our quick online test and get the help you need.