As our society grows and we are slowly beginning to destigmatize mental health, one of the most common and discussed mental illnesses is depression. And while it’s great that we are slowly starting to have open conversations, I fear there is a misunderstanding when it comes to what depression really is.
When people think of depression, they tend to associate it with sadness. For the record, let’s make something incredibly, ridiculously, absolutely crystal clear. Sadness is an emotion. Depression is a clinical mental illness.
Everybody is bound to experience sadness at some point. Whether it’s a disappointing test score, a friend’s betrayal or a heart-wrenching breakup, you will feel sad. But then you’ll feel better. And you’ll move on with your life and be bigger and better. You’ll feel sad, but you won’t necessarily be depressed.
Depression is a clinical illness. It’s been scientifically proven and documented that depression has a literal, physical effect on your brain. No ifs, ands or buts.
Depression is not just feeling sad.
In fact, it’s not feeling… anything. At all.
It’s the feeling of numbness, a sense of nothingness.
It’s the feeling of “why”… about everything.
Existential crisis after existential crisis.
Being sad and being depressed are not the same thing. Next time you’re feeling down, please still try to be wary of your words. If you’re sad, you’re sad. If you’re depressed, you’re depressed. Both are equally valid and equally important but don’t throw around “depression” like a colloquial phrase. It’s not meant to help you emphasize a point. It’s a mental illness. We have a hard enough time as is, please do not make it any harder by making it invalid – in your eyes and in the eyes of others.
Depression is not something we just “get over”.
Depression is nothing something that a pint of ice cream and a funny movie can fix.
Depression is a mental illness.
Depression is not sadness.
By Erica Chau for TheMighty