Depression Awareness Week: Don’t keep depression under your hat

It’s Depression Awareness Week and this year focuses on challenging the stigma that many people with depression experience.

Depression is a mental illness that affects almost 10% of the world’s population – around 740 million people. Feelings of depression are different from simply feeling down or sad. Unhappiness is an emotion we all feel from time to time, but people with depression experience intense emotions of hopelessness, negativity and helplessness that stay with them instead of going away.

The number of people experiencing depression is on the rise. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of people with depression rose by almost half, from 426 million to 615 million. Unfortunately, there remains a stigma around depression, as many people simply don’t understand the nature of the illness.

Depression myths

There are some common misconceptions about depression that Depression Awareness Week is working to break down.

Some people mistakenly believe that depression is a “self-indulgent” or “attention seeking” condition. This is not the case at all, on the contrary people with depression often become withdrawn and unsociable as a result of the condition, and experience feelings of guilt and shame. People with depression are often given damaging advice from well-meaning friends or relatives to simply “snap out of it”. Recovering from depression is not that straightforward.

Sadly, mental illnesses are often seen as less serious than physical illness or injury, because these are ailments that show visible signs and symptoms. People also struggle to understand how a person can be depressed if they have “nothing to be sad about.” Depression can affect anyone at any time, and is not necessarily a reflection of lifestyle – many successful, rich and famous celebrities with otherwise “perfect” lives have been diagnosed with depression.

Challenging the stigma

Depression Awareness Week will work towards tackling the stigma that surrounds depression by educating people about the mental illness and the common myths and misconceptions that surround it.

In partnership with Friends in Need – a supportive community for people affected by depression – the week-long event will be raising funds to continue helping people through their recovery. The theme of this year’s Depression Awareness Week is “don’t keep depression under your hat” – participants in the event are invited to pull on a hat, get fundraising and get talking. You can get involved by organising an event in your workplace, university or community centre.

Treating depression

If you have depression, one of the most effective ways of treating the condition is with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT is recommended as the best treatment for depression and anxiety by the NHS and National Institute for Clinical Excellence. Ieso’s discreet online CBT courses could help you to overcome your depression in an environment that suits you. Find out more about our service on our website.

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