6 Lies Depression Tells You
Depression is one of the most common mental health issues worldwide. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than seven percent of American adults–more than 17 million people–suffered an episode of major depression in 2017 and 11 million of those had severe impairment from their symptoms. What’s more, at least a third of people who suffered an episode of major depression got no treatment at all.
There are a number of possible reasons for this. One is that some people don’t recognize the symptoms of depression so it doesn’t occur to them they have a condition they should seek help for. Some people, especially men, are reluctant to seek help because they see it as sign of weakness and they believe they should be able to handle it on their own. Others don’t seek help because depression distorts their beliefs about themselves, about the world, and about the possibility of recovery. Here are some common lies depression tells you.
“You’re lazy and weak.”
Among the most common symptoms of depression are fatigue, insomnia, excessive sleep, lack of motivation, slow movements, and a feeling of heaviness. When you’re depressed, it can be hard to even get out of bed and sometimes it’s impossible. You don’t have to go on like this for very long before you start asking, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I so lazy?” When depression causes you to sleep too much, miss work, or even neglect basic hygiene or eating, you may feel like you’re just lazy. You may feel like you should just soldier on despite feeling awful. If you can’t manage to do that, you may feel weak or worthless.
In reality, you’re not lazy or weak, you’re just depressed. People often assume depression is a kind of severe sadness, but depression is much more than that. Depression actually has physical symptoms. Recent research has linked depression to the immune response and inflammation. When you’re depressed, your body essentially acts like it’s fighting an infection even though there isn’t one present. You get symptoms like fatigue, inability to concentrate, social withdrawal, slow movements, and lack of motivation, which are actually very similar to many of the symptoms of a cold or flu. Those symptoms are not caused by the viruses themselves, but rather by your body’s response to those viruses. It wants to conserve energy, so your own immune response zaps your energy and motivation. It has nothing at all to do with being lazy or weak. In fact, if you can function at all while depressed, it’s usually a sign of extraordinary effort.
“You have no reason to be depressed.”
When you feel depressed, you are likely to ask yourself why you are depressed. You might be able to come up with an answer. Maybe you’re depressed because you lost your job or you got divorced. However, most people who lose their jobs or get divorced don’t get depressed. Anything bad that happened may certainly be a factor, but it’s not sufficient in itself. You may also reflect that, overall, your life is pretty good. Maybe you’re happily married, living in a nice place, with a pretty good job and yet you still feel depressed. The notion that you don’t really have anything to be depressed about and that, in fact, you shouldn’t be depressed can make you feel even worse.
In reality, depression is about what’s going on inside your body and brain, not what’s going on in your life. Certainly, other people have harder lives than you do, but that doesn’t invalidate what you’re feeling.
“No one likes you.”
Social isolation is one of the most common symptoms of depression. When you’re depressed, you don’t really want to be around anyone and you may feel like others are better off without you. This can be a stubbornly persistent illusion. What’s especially dangerous about this belief is that isolation makes your depression even worse. You get in a spiral of social withdrawal and believing no one likes you. If you would accept at face value that your friends and relatives do like you and care about you and actually surround yourself with those people, you would probably find you feel a little better.
As noted above, the feeling that no one likes you may be related to inflammation theory of depression. For our ancestors, it made sense that if you were fighting an infection, you would isolate yourself to avoid spreading it. However, when you’re depressed, it’s better to connect with others as much as possible, especially if you don’t feel like it.
One of the primary symptoms of depression is that you no longer enjoy things you used to enjoy. You may try to engage in those activities but feel like they’re just sort of empty and meaningless. In fact, you may not be able to enjoy anything at all. This is called anhedonia and it’s one of the necessary symptoms for a depression diagnosis. This is another stubborn illusion and you might even come up with rational-sounding reasons why nothing matters. However, it’s just a feeling. Certain things mattered to you in the past and they will matter to you in the future.
This may be the most painful lie depression tells you. As with the belief that nothing matters, the belief that you don’t matter can be paralyzing. You stop caring what happens to you, whether you eat, bathe, or talk to a therapist. You may even start contemplating suicide or have frequent thoughts of death. Feeling worthless is just another lie depression tells you. You do have inherent worth and you probably have value to many other people in your life, whether you’re aware of it or not.
“Life will never get better.”
When you’re depressed, not only do you feel bad, but it’s hard to imagine ever feeling better in the future. All the lies depression tells you seem like valid reasons your life will never get any better. Thinking about the future from the depths of depression can actually make you feel even worse. Even if you know, rationally, that you haven’t always been depressed and that you likely won’t be depressed forever, it doesn’t feel like life will ever improve. However, depression is very treatable. The majority of people respond at least to some degree to treatment and many experience complete remission of symptoms. If this is your first episode of depression, there’s a good chance it will also be your last, assuming you get the proper treatment. Treatment, typically consisting of psychotherapy and, sometimes, medication can shorten a depressive episode and reduce your risk of another episode.
At Patrick Hart Consultants, we provide a number of different services to fit the needs of each individual client. Among these, are helping you choose a treatment provider, helping you develop a treatment plan, helping you establish post-treatment support, and ensuring continuity among the different elements of treatment. Contact us today at 844-2627970 or Info@PatrickHartConsultants.com or explore our website for more information.