Labelling people depressed or anxious, I believe, is a big problem facing the mental health care system. I myself, the founder of Battle of Mind, was once labelled clinically depressed, suffering from acute social anxiety and at ‘clinical’ risk of suicide after taking a test that suggested I was 2 points scoring a full house on being sectioned into the British mental health system for my own safety and subscribed to the highest dose of Citalopram possible. BUT, now, since recovery, I really do see a problem with the whole labelling me as someone who suffered depression/anxiety. In this blog post I am going to explore why I believe it isn’t good to make it so open to use terms such as depression and anxiety to label feelings.
Pair of shoes, fits all?
Firstly, depression and anxiety happens for unique reasons to that person. I have discussed this before in a previous blog post, how we all get ill for varying reasons and labelling everyone with this disease as depressed often leads to people believing that the same medication and therapy is going to work for the next person. That is very wrong. What has worked for me, the founder of this website, was hypnotherapy and regular exercise, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will do the same for you. That is why we set up Find Your Therapy last year in order to discover all types of therapy within your city currently with over 850 therapists worldwide at present (some work online). There are many ways to help depression through therapy and medication and also sustaining the change yourself but it truly is about the person’s personality, their belief systems as much as about their condition itself.
Life is full of varying challenges
Life is tough and can be hard to deal with no matter your social, cultural or economical background, it doesn’t mean we are depressed, it can mean we are going through prolonged periods of stressful situations which in turn reduces our joy in the world. For example, I’ve been having some troubles with a few work colleagues at work recently, going into a negative working environment, with a dictatorship manager and coping with personal issues at home, as well as a small car accident which meant that there were many problems all around me for a prolonged period of time. I had low mood, for quite a while, maybe months and every day seemed challenging. Would I say I was depressed because of it all? Probably not if I am honest, yes I felt low often, I suffered low mood, for quite a while, maybe months and every day seemed challenging, there was no respite. Would I say I was depressed because of it all? Probably not if I am honest, yes I felt low often, but to say I was depressed and unable to carry on would be untrue. Sometimes, although not all the time, many people now tar sadness and difficulty with depression but happiness is a fleeting feeling, as is a comfort, it is only how we deal with these difficult times that make us stronger but eventually they do fade and some normality is restored.
Depressed Labels sometimes come with shame or embarrassment
Another problem with labels like this is that it can make those with illnesses feel ashamed or embarrassed. I clearly remember, when I first fell severely ill, had a really bad breakdown, I know I felt weak and less of a man. I remember that clearly and going the doctor and asking family for help was not on my radar. I am a man and I am meant to be strong…now I am ‘depressed’? I was distraught, to say the least! It is a problem to label people depressed due to the pain it can bring, the reality is for many people is that it simply means that you have been strong for a long time until you can’t take any more…but being labelled depressed sometimes makes you feel like you are weaker than the rest of society and I believe, this is partly down to the problem that media is/and has created around this.
Too much publicity on mental health?
Nowadays, every celebrity is jumping on the mental health bandwagon and there is a lot of unhappiness and uncertainty in the world since the economic crash people are finding it harder to jeer themselves up and find contentment. For the younger generations, it seems impossible to own their own home, for the older ones they worry their culture is being eroded and their country invaded by people they don’t feel comfortable with, possibly even their pensions aren’t very good all and both generations, feeling lonelier and lonelier because of recent events.
I believe that publishing mental health awareness everywhere people will introspect with themselves and instantly think ‘is this depression what I am feeling?‘ and look for some sympathy rather than actually confronting the fact that maybe they are in a bad situation because they need to work through the difficulties rather than just accept them, possibly even make a drastic change to things that are ruining their lives.
I know it is really, really hard to have depression, whether environmental/social factors are to blame or biological factors and I am not saying that you are not depressed but throwing these terms of depression, anxiety, suicidal and ‘talking’ as the solution to a huge problem facing the world simply isn’t good for both the health service and people as a whole.
So what can be done?
What really needs to happen is to show people how to get through these difficulties. Fact. Not any more mental health awareness but strategies and methods for coming out of difficult situations and circumstances and maintaining some level of peace in the mind when all around you is a mine field. It is, of course, overwhelming to have so many problems in life all at once and that they just don’t seem to be able to go away but, believe me, EVERY problem has a solution, whether an easy one or a complicated one, THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE FOR CHANGE!
Time to change the conversation
I believe what is important is not what label we have but instead, to teach ourselves and others how to still our racing mind, release natural endorphins in our brains through various strategies and maintain contentment (not happiness) regardless of our situation. At Battle of Mind we believe on focusing on solutions rather than just discussing how we feel (although it’s often important to understand why we think the way we do in order to implement therapy correctly) and how to maintain optimum mental health and contentment.
What are your thoughts on labelling people depressed or anxious? Do you think it can be damaging or do you feel it helps give you some sense of understanding of why you are feeling the way you are? Or maybe you can identify that you also feel that labelling someone depressed may not be completely beneficial to the healing process? Please comment below.
P.S. Please contact your GP if you are feeling depressed or if you are feeling extremely low contact the Samaritans or if in the UK ring 111 if you are in crisis. There are people willing and wanting to help you! Stop the suffering NOW! PLEASE!