Is Depression Real? Addressing MDD-Related Stigmas
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Depression is a word that is used in many different ways. When it comes to mental health, the term often refers to major depressive disorder (MDD). Other mental health conditions can also involve depressive thoughts and feelings. Depression is a key aspect of conditions such as anxious depression and bipolar disorder, for example. From a persistent lack of joy to chronic fatigue, depression can come with many symptoms. Depression is a serious issue, which is why it’s important to clear up misconceptions surrounding the term.

You may have heard people use the term “depression” to speak about momentary sadness or disappointment. In everyday conversations, “depression” is frequently used outside of its medical context. The broader usage of “depression” can lead to misconceptions about the reality of clinical depression. 

To be clear, depression is real. If you have depression, it is important to get the support and treatment you need. Learning more about major depressive disorder may be able to give you more insight into your own condition and how you can work toward a solution that works.

What is major depressive disorder (MDD)?

Major depressive disorder is a mood disorder. This means it is characterized by emotional changes that often lead to changes in your thought patterns. If you have MDD, you may experience persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness and disinterest. Activities that normally excite you, such as hobbies and social outings, may start to feel less enjoyable. Other frequently reported symptoms include difficulty concentrating and sleep disturbances. A desire for social avoidance is also common, and it’s sometimes made worse by stigmas around depression. 

A stigma is an unfair negative idea that a person or group holds about something. Anyone can hold stigmas. In many cases, people who have MDD have their own internalized stigmas about their condition.

People who have depression and are affected by societal mental health stigmas may doubt the reality of their condition. While it’s easy to try to avoid, downplay or be dismissive of your mental health struggles, it can lead to danger and worsened symptoms in the long run. Stigmas sometimes pose a serious challenge to getting help. As a result of stigmas around mental health, you may feel like others will judge you for seeking treatment. This can make it harder to take the next step and get the treatment you need. 

Stigmas related to major depressive disorder can also impact your self-esteem due to shame or embarrassment, which often leads to worsened MDD symptoms. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome stigmas and misconceptions surrounding mental health. Learning more about the stigmas around MDD can prepare you to confront them.

Common MDD-related stigmas and misconceptions

  • “It’s all in your head” — In response to communicating your feelings of depression, you may have heard someone say your condition is “all in your head,” or something to that effect. This kind of thinking can be harmful, as it’s dismissive of very real mental health symptoms. People with clinical depression often experience overwhelming negative feelings. These feelings can have a major impact on your overall mood and life outlook. In some cases, these feelings can lead to suicidality. Suicidality is an intense despair that triggers thoughts of killing yourself and can lead to harmful behaviors. 

If you are experiencing suicidality, call or text 988, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, for immediate support. The serious nature of these thoughts and feelings shows why it is important not to disregard or downplay them. The “all in your head” stigma is also factually untrue; depression can affect the whole body. MDD is often associated with physical fatigue, headaches and appetite changes.

  • “It’s just a phase” — While mental health symptoms can fluctuate, they are not simply signs of a “phase.” The idea that MDD is “just a phase” implies you should wait for your condition to resolve itself, but the symptoms of major depressive disorder don’t generally go away on their own. If you are experiencing MDD symptoms, it’s important to be proactive in addressing your condition. Professional treatment can help you make strides toward lasting progress.
  • “You should control it” — Do people in your life expect you to keep your MDD symptoms under control all the time? The idea that mental health symptoms are fully within your control is rooted in misconceptions about the nature of MDD. Major depressive disorder is a mood disorder that affects the levels of chemical neurotransmitters in your brain. It’s not something that can just be willed away. While coping techniques can be a helpful way to manage some symptoms, it is also important to receive care that directly addresses the root of your depression.

Lightfully U can help you tackle social stigmas and MDD symptoms

Ready to get past MDD-related stigmas and start focusing on effective treatment? Lightfully U is here to help. Our licensed clinical experts operate based on a data-driven, holistic framework. With our help, you can identify and manage your symptoms, empowering you to focus on what matters most in your life.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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