Sabrina Benaim’s “Explaining My Depression to My Mother” is pretty powerful on its own:
But, in it, her mother exhibits some of the most common misconceptions about depression, and I’d like to point out three of them here.
Misconception #1: Depression is triggered by a single event or series of traumatic events.
Most people think depression is triggered by a traumatic event: a loved one dying, a job loss, a national tragedy, some THING. The truth is that depression sometimes just appears out of nowhere. So when you think that a friend or loved one is just in an extended bad mood, reconsider. They could be suffering from depression.
Misconception #2: People with depression are only sad.
Most people who have never experienced depression think depression is just an overwhelming sadness. In reality, depression is a complex set of feelings and physical changes in the body. People who suffer from depression are sad, yes, but they can also be anxious, worried, apathetic, and tense, among other things.
Misconception #3: You can snap out of it.
The thing with depression is that it’s a medical condition that affects your brain chemistry. It has to do with environmental or biological factors first and foremost. Sabrina’s mother seems to think that if her daughter would only go through the motions of being happy that then she would become happy. But that’s not the case. Depression is a biological illness that leaks into your state of being.
Think of it this way: If you had a cold, could you just “snap out of it”?
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