Why Depression Should Be Taken Seriously

Mar 13, 2017
Tagged with: Why Depression Should Be Taken Seriously

 

Depression is more common than many people think. In fact, it’s one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting about 6.7% of adults. That’s 16 million Americans: people who have to cope with the sometimes debilitating effects of the illness in their everyday lives. The problem is severe enough that the WHO (World Health Organization) has declared depression the top cause of disability worldwide. Estimates suggest that more than 4% of the world’s population as a whole are affected by depression. Like many mental illnesses, it’s common for depression to be taken less seriously as it should be—as if it isn’t an issue that greatly impacts everyday life for those who suffer from it. Here’s why it’s important that we start shifting these views in the United States and worldwide.

Mental health Stigmas Makes the Problem Worse

When it comes to illnesses like depression, anxiety, and PTSD, people often don’t seek treatment. This is partially due to pervasive myths and stigma surrounding mental illness—people don’t want to be associated with “that” group. The stigma makes many people feel ashamed to seek treatment, and downplay their own symptoms to avoid being classified as “mentally ill”. This has other consequences as well. Many employers don’t take depression seriously, and do not provide reasonable accommodation for their employees struggling with depression—if they even feel comfortable asking for accommodation in the first place. People who do not think they need or can’t get treatment grapple with sadness, listlessness, and sometimes even suicidal thoughts. 800,000 people die from suicide a year worldwide, a sobering figure that shows how serious depression really is.

The WHO’s study also shows that global losses from depression top $1 trillion a year, and that the illness is only becoming more common—its prevalence has increased by 18.4% in the last decade. With so many people suffering, it becomes all the more important to change attitudes about mental illness. 

Depression Can Impact Quality of Life and Well-Being

Though wellness activities can help ease some of the symptoms of depression, they can’t fully treat the illness. Therapy and medication are often needed to ease the symptoms. Depression makes people feel sad, listless, and uninterested in activities they used to enjoy. This can affect everything from the ability to be productive and engaged in the workplace, to connections with loved ones, to enjoying leisure activities. Long term, this can lead to numbness and lack of enjoyment in many aspects of life.

Get Help

If you or someone you love is showing signs of depression, it’s important to get treatment from a mental health professional. Unfortunately, the severe stigma that still surrounds depression and other mental illnesses, tends to put up barriers for people who need treatment. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it—waiting will only make the problem worse, and there’s no need to suffer longer than you have to. Depression can be debilitating, but it doesn’t have to rule your life! The first step? Talking about it. Helping to break the stigma so that we can all get help when we or someone close to us needs it.

Don’t know where to find help? Check out these resources below:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s Online Resources

National Network of Depression Centers

National Institute of Mental Health

Author: Audrey Willis