Depression Affects Everyone

"Nearly one in five people will be affected by a mental health problem during their lives" (Fagan and Western 320). This simple statement from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shines light on the enormous number of people who have to deal with mental health problems, a major example being depression. Naturally, a patient is going to be affected by their mental illness, but what about their friends, family, and others? I will explore and explain the many lives that are affected by depression in many different ways.

Everyone has had a bad day, but most people just brush it off and continue on with their normal life. This, however, is quite a different situation for patients suffering from depression. Depression patients can be so extraordinarily affected by their mental illness that it can drive them to do some things that many people would call insane; an example of this being self-harm. Self-harm is defined as "the act of deliberately harming your own body, such a cutting or burning yourself" (Mayo Clinic Staff), but there are many more types of self-harm, such as hair-pulling and hitting or punching oneself. The majority of depression patients say that it is a way of "coping with the pain of strong emotions, intense pressure, or upsetting relationship problems" (Lyness). In other words, people with depression feel that it is easier to deal with the physical pain of self-harm than the mental pain built up inside them. Of course, self-harm does not make their real-life problems go away. This is why many depression patients continue to self-harm and even turn to suicide as an option.

Many rationalize their nonexistence to be better than what they or those around them have to deal with while they are still living. Their mental illness becomes much like a parasite, forcing its way into their every thought, taking their brain over, and many eventually give in to that parasite's demands.

Depression patients who consider suicide bring on a plethora of different issues and emotions for their loved ones to deal with. Many depression patients rationalize their nonexistence to be better than what they are, or what those around them have to deal with while they are still living. Their mental illness becomes much like a parasite, forcing its way into their every thought, taking their brain over, and many eventually give in to that parasite's demands. "On average, someone attempts suicide every 40 seconds in the US" (Caruso). Examples of methods include firearms, hanging, strangulation, suffocation, and poisons (Caruso). However, when people commit suicide, many do not consider the consequences the loss of their life will leave on their family and loved ones.

Though suicide majorly affects those close to the depression patient, they are also affected by many characteristics of the patient. Behaviors and moods of the depression patient can rub off on others, causing those closest to the patient to feel more negative thoughts and become sad themselves. Depression patients can also be quite irritable. This could cause many conflicts with loved ones and could even lead to the end of friendships due to the lack of understanding and support that the patient feels. The pessimism of the patient can cause negative thought patterns for everyone, and patients withdrawing themselves from their loved ones can disrupt relationships to a point of no return (Marano).

Whether it is physical, verbal, or cyber, the psychological effects of bullying can "extend long beyond the school days and linger into early adulthood" (Thompson). The fact is, bullies can cause depression and many may not even realize it. If depressed people are bullied, they tend to keep it quiet, thinking that saying something about it to others would just cause more problems than it would fix. It is very important that children are taught to take a stand when they see bullying taking place. "One of the most helpful things you can do is to try talking to [the person being bullied] to see what is going on" (Hirsch). One could also help by becoming a friend to that bully victim and being around him or her when he or she is alone. By simply teaching a child to help others and to react to bullying in healthy ways it is possible to save many lives.

Another possible way of saving lives is to make the issue of depression one that is better known to everyone. The best and most efficient way to do this would be to talk about depression more openly in the media. Although depression and the issues that depression comes with can be a taboo topic to be talked about, it is possible to make a big change in what people think about those with depression by changing the media's outlook on the issue. Many people consider people with depression to be "emo" or "attention seekers." It is most likely that this outlook on depression is caused by the media showing those with depression as weak, secluded, introverted "losers" who are only sad because they have no friends and want people to feel bad for them. One good example of this happening in the media is the show "Awkward" on MTV. Due to a misunderstanding, the main character is looked at by her peers as a suicidal "freak" who wants to be a "somebody." Although this is a misunderstanding and the main character is not actually depressed, it is very sad that this show depicted her peers to be so cruel and misunderstanding of a situation that is very serious and should not be taken lightly. If the media were to show a depressed person being treated as a decent human being, then maybe issues in real life could be more easily avoided.

Humans are capable of hiding their true feelings and it can be hard to detect those who are affected by depression. Though it may not always be obvious, depression affects many people in a plethora of ways. From family and friends, to bullies and peers, to the patients themselves, everyone can be affected by depression in one way or another. So the more understanding we have about this mental illness, the better off everyone will be.

Editors' note: Are you experiencing symptoms of depression? EMU CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) can help. For more information, visit http://www.emich.edu/caps/.

Depression Affects Everyone Collage

Works Cited

Caruso, Kevin. "Suicide Statistics." Suicide.org. Suicide.org, 2005. Web.

Fagan, Abigail and John Western. "Gender Differences in the Relationship Between Offending, Self-harm and Depression in Adolescence and Young Adulthood." Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology 36.3 (2003): 320-337. Print.

Hirsch, Larissa. "Expert Answers on Bullying." Teens Health For Teens. The Nemours Foundation, 2009. Web.

Lyness, D’Arcy. "Cutting." Teens Health For Teens. The Nemours Foundation, 2009. Web

Marano, Hara Estroff. "Depression: A Family Matter." Psychology Today. Psychology Today, 2002. Web.

Mayo Clinic Staff, . "Self-Injury/Cutting." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 2010. Web.

Thompson, Matt. "Social Bullying Causes Depression and Anxiety." ArticleDoctor. ArticleDoctor, 2009. Web.


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