Emily M. DeArdo

writer

You Can't "Snap Out Of" Depression...

healthEmily DeArdoComment
“Irises”, Vincent Van Gogh (I saw this at the Getty when I visited in 2016.)

“Irises”, Vincent Van Gogh (I saw this at the Getty when I visited in 2016.)

There are few things that make me as angry as willful ignorance.

I can understand people not understanding things about CF, or my hearing loss, or transplant, or whatever. They’re pretty rare things. There’s a learning curve.

What I cannot tolerate, or understand, is how, in the twenty-first century, people still think that you can “snap out” of depression, and that you just need to “be positive”, and that if you have depression, you’re just “giving up.”

And yes, those words in quotes? All things I heard over the weekend during a discussion about this on social media.

So, for anyone who believes that those things are true, some education:

  1. Depression isn’t the same as a bad day or a bad mood.

    Everyone has bad days. When I’m having a bad day, I say I’m being “Grumpy Cat.” If it’s a really bad day, then I’m “Grumpy Cat Deluxe.” But both those things are totally different from depression. Depression lasts. Depression doesn’t go away with a good night’s sleep, or watching a good movie, or working out, or going out to dinner with friends. Things that work to get you out of bad moods do not work for depression. They might help. But they won’t solve the issue. That’s because…

  2. Depression is a mood disorder that affects your brain chemistry.

    The Mayo Clinic says:

    “It's not known exactly what causes depression. As with many mental disorders, a variety of factors may be involved, such as:

    • Biological differences. People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain, but may eventually help pinpoint causes.

    • Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that likely play a role in depression. Recent research indicates that changes in the function and effect of these neurotransmitters and how they interact with neurocircuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.

    • Hormones. Changes in the body's balance of hormones may be involved in causing or triggering depression. Hormone changes can result with pregnancy and during the weeks or months after delivery (postpartum) and from thyroid problems, menopause or a number of other conditions.

    • Inherited traits. Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives also have this condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing depression.”


Did you get all that? Changes in the brain. Hormones. Inherited traits. Brain chemistry. These are not things that just “go away” because you want to “snap out of it.”

And also, they do not go away “if you pray”, and you’re not depressed “because you don’t pray enough.”

Let’s sum this up really fast. :

Depression is not something that you can snap out of. It’s an illness, just the same as cancer or CF. People with depression need help from doctors, including psychiatrists/psychologists, and this help might include taking medication.

Do not tell people to “snap out of it.” You wouldn’t tell someone with cancer to do that. Don’t do it with someone who has depression.

Depression is not rational.

Feelings are not rational.

If some one tells you not to be depressed because you’re alive, or you have a good job, or a good family, or a nice house, or whatever…..that person does not understand depression. DEPRESSION IS NOT RATIONAL.

If you want a funnier—but entirely true—take on this, visit this post by Allie Brosh.
(Go read it and come back. Really. What follows will make more sense.)

I especially want to note the part about the fish.

Someone asks Ally, what’s wrong? She says, my fish are dead.

OK. Her fish are dead.

The person says to Ally, “Oh! That’s OK! I’ll help you find them!”

That’s not the problem she has. The problem isn’t that they’re gone as in missing. They’re gone as in dead.

No amount of positive thinking will bring the fish back to life.

Same with depression. No amount of being told “how good you have it” or “how happy you should be” will change your feelings! Because it doesn’t work that way!

Please, people.

Stop telling people with depression to snap out of it. Or that they shouldn’t be depressed. This is what leads to people not talking about depression, which makes the problem even bigger, and then it makes people feel like they should be ashamed of it! And they shouldn’t be!

If someone you know is depressed, please listen to them. Don’t tell them to snap out of it.