Today is World Health Day! This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) hopes to spark discussions about mental health with their campaign called “Depression: Let’s talk.”
Depression affects more than 300 million people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries – but less than half of people with depression (even less than 10 percent in many countries) receive treatment.
“The stigma surrounding mental illness, including depression, remains a barrier to people seeking help throughout the world,” according to WHO. “Talking about depression, whether with a family member, friend or medical professional; in larger groups, for example in schools, the workplace and social settings; or in the public domain, in the news media, blogs or social media, helps break down this stigma, ultimately leading to more people seeking help.”
In honor of World Health Day, WHO encourages you to use the hashtags #LetsTalk and #depression, as well their predesigned apps and graphics to spread awareness over social media today.
Don’t go it alone
WHO suggests talking to someone you trust about your feelings. “Being emotionally mature and authentic to those who are close to you can be an absolute game changer,” says Matthew Johnstone, a writer/illustrator who produced this video for WHO called “I had a black dog, his name was depression.” “The most important thing to remember is that, no matter how bad it gets, if you take the right steps, talk to the right people, ‘black dog days’ will pass.”
So who are the “right people” to talk to? The University of Michigan Depression Center (UMDC) says it’s important to discuss your depression with your healthcare providers. “Emotional problems such as depression are not always evident to healthcare professionals focused on physical ailments,” they say. When you make a list of topics to raise with your doctor, include your depressive symptoms or mental health concerns, just as you would discuss any physical symptoms disrupting your life. Although doctors and the public rarely discuss it, depression can also go hand in hand with many other health conditions and it’s important to treat.
Beyond doctors, UMDC says whom you share with and how to do it is a personal choice. Their Depression Toolkit outlines some pros and cons of opening up and advice for choosing confidants. “Remember: quality is more important than quantity—even one confidant is a great asset.” Seeking support anonymously through online forums (like our Mental Health and Behavior community) is a good option, they say.
Tips for talking
Heads Up Guys, an organization that’s raising awareness about depression in men, encourages you to think of someone who:
- You’re comfortable with and trust
- Is likely to understand
- Will take your situation seriously
“Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be an intense conversation that you dread starting,” they say. “It’s helpful to keep things causal – go for a walk, grab a coffee or chat with someone while working.”
These candid conversations starters from Heads Up Guys might help:
- “I’ve been having a really hard time lately. Getting really stressed out. Mind if I bounce some ideas off you?”
- “I’ve been feeling off for a while now. Have you ever found yourself in a funk that was hard to get out of?”
- “I made an appointment with my doctor the other day and he thinks I might be suffering from depression. I don’t really know much about depression – how about you?”
- “I’m really falling behind on some chores. When are you getting groceries next? Maybe we can go together.”
- “I want to get out more these days but I don’t have the energy. If you can think of something to do and plan it out, I’ll be more likely to get out of the house.”
If you’re feeling suicidal, talk with someone right away. Speak with a family member, friend or doctor, or dial 911 or one of these hotlines.
On PatientsLikeMe, nearly 39,000 patients have major depressive disorder (MDD). Of those, about 17,000 say MDD is their primary condition. Every day, members talk about symptoms, treatments and ideas for coping with depression in the Mental Health forum, so join the discussion today.
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