Unfortunately, many people are uneducated about mental health, causing them to have false beliefs about numerous mental health issues. Instead of following the crowd and believing the assumptions, try educating yourself on depression and other mental health problems.
By being knowledgeable about mental health problems, you can help more people in their struggles and connect with them on a deeper level. Here are some false assumptions about those who suffer from depression.
"It’s a 'spiritual' issue."
Mental illnesses are typically discarded as “spiritual problems.” This viewpoint may cause some people’s mental diseases to worsen, including their depression. When struggling with depression, people need others there to love and support them as they are so they don’t feel alone. If mental illness is shrugged off as a “spiritual problem,” those suffering may draw deeper into their depression or other mental health problems.
Depression is a mood disorder that brutally affects someone, making their existence dark. At times, they may feel like they’re sinking under the depths of the illness, drowning in sadness, darkness, and pain. To help someone with depression, show up for them and validate their pain. You may not have any experience with depression, and you’re unsure of how you can help. Try sending them a kind message to remind them you’re always there for them. Depression makes it easy for those suffering from it to shrink away and isolate themselves from the world. However, they need to know others care and will stick around.
"They’re not finding joy in God."
The second false assumption about depression is that sufferers aren’t finding joy in the Lord. Naysayers believe that since sufferers are crestfallen, down, and uninterested in activities, they’re not finding joy in the Lord. This idea is false because someone can rejoice in the Lord without feeling happy. Joy and happiness aren’t interchangeable. Happiness depends on situations, but joy is always present because of our relationship with Jesus.
In other words, you can have joy in the Lord without feeling happy. Therefore, someone can still have joy in God while battling depression. Instead of telling people struggling with depression to find more joy in the Lord, meet them where they are. Ask them if you can help or invite them on a walk. Don’t make accusations about not finding joy in the Lord or not knowing Jesus as their Savior because it can be harmful, causing them to distance themselves from others even more. Instead, extend compassion, care, and love, even if you don’t understand their struggles.
Another false assumption about depression is that sufferers are unmotivated. Depression is responsible for days when it’s challenging to get out of bed in the morning, days that may not be productive or lend the willingness to explore new things. It makes even the most straightforward task feel like climbing Mount Everest. Simple things are significant accomplishments for someone with depression. It’s easier to hide from the world than get up and participate in daily living. Often, the deep pain and sorrow of depression cause a feeling of paralysis as strength is drained from the bones of those going through it.
Physical symptoms of depression happen when the illness starts to feel overwhelming, not due to a lack of motivation or laziness. If you haven’t seen or heard from someone who suffers from depression in a while, they may be having a challenging time. Try not to take their absence or silence personally. This person likely feels overwhelmed, down or doesn’t feel like talking. Depression causes them to ponder whether they matter, question their existence, and wonder if the world would be better without them. Be extra caring, kind, and sensitive to others. We don’t always see or understand suffering.
"They should be more grateful."
Those who suffer from depression aren’t ungrateful, and assuming so is inaccurate and unfair. Depression is a complex mental health issue that should be treated with therapy and medication management. It’s not cured by being more grateful, nor does someone get depressed because they’re not appreciative. Those with depression are usually grateful but struggle with a mental health problem that causes other issues. We can educate ourselves through study and research to find out how to help instead of making assumptions about depression and other mental health problems.
Being there for others when they’re suffering from depression is helpful. Ignoring or ghosting them because we don’t understand or are intimidated by their issues will only worsen it. People with depression can struggle with suicide attempts and suicide ideation; therefore, it’s best to be gentle with them and mind your words. God wants us to care about others and help them when needed.
Depression may become chronic or may last a short time. Regardless, for those living who only recently learned they have depression or for those living with undiagnosed depression, we should be much more careful and kind with our words. Even those who’ve struggled for years need the care and kindness of others.