Depression: A Misunderstood Illness

Invisible Illness

The Stigma Around Depression

We live in a society where people post pictures of themselves up on Facebook and other sites doing a bong load, drinking, dressing provocatively, etc. However, we cannot talk about depression or mental illness at all because there is such a stigma against any mental health problem. Depression has been around starting with the beginning of mankind. Some people in the Bible such as King David, Job, Elijah, etc. were probably clinically depressed. If you read some of the Psalms, the text does not describe a feeling of happiness. It describes real depression. Presidents of the United States have suffered from depression. For example, Abe Lincoln and his wife both suffered bouts of depression. The diagnosis itself can become an illness because there is such a stigma against it.

Depression in the Biblical Times

The Truth About Depression


It is not A sign of Weakness

People think that Depression is a sign of weakness. It is not. It is an illness the same as diabetes or asthma. The problem is people often do not seek help for it because of the stigma associated with it. They think that if they deny the problem it will go away and of course it does not. In fact it can even get worse as time goes on. People still take cracks at people with mental health problems like Britney Spears, Charlie Sheen, or Lindsay Lohan. They just happen to be famous people who suffer from it. People do not know how to respond to it because they do not understand the illness.

Taking a Wise Crack Back

Suffering with Illness

Statistics on Mental Health Disorders

  • Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States.
  • According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience some form of a mental health disorder in a given year.
  • About one in five youth from ages 13 to 18 have some kind of severe mental disorder.
  • 18.1 % of adults in the United States have some kind of anxiety disorder like P.T.S.D., O.C.D., and/or specific phobias.
  • Of the 20.2 million adults in the United States who have a substance abuse disorder, 50.5% or 10.2 million adults have a co- occurring mental illness.

What Really Killed Robin Williams

Facing the Problem

Demonizing the Illness

Robin Williams was suffering from dementia and he knew that it was going to go down hill. However, we live in a culture that demonizes anyone with some type of mental health problem. He thought that it was easier to end his life then to deal with it. Many people who have depression, anxiety, or any kind of mental health problem do not seek treatment because they are afraid of the stigma associated with it. It is not socially acceptable to talk about depression or anxiety. Yet, people have no problem talking about excessive partying, over-drinking, or anything but mental health.

Impact on Society

Statistics in Society

  • According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness it is estimated that 26% of homeless adults in shelters live with a mental health disorder and/or a substance abuse problem.
  • 70 % of children in the juvenile justice system have at least one mental health problem while 20 % live with a serious mental illness.
  • Of the adults living with mental health problems only 41 % received mental health services. Of the people living with a serious mental illness 62% received mental health services within the past year.
  • People who are African American or Hispanic used mental health services at half the rate of Caucasians, while Asian Americans about one third the rate.

"In a World of people who couldn't care less be the person who couldn't care more"

— Anonymous

National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI)

Symptoms of Depression

  • changes in sleep
  • changes in appetite
  • lack of concentration
  • loss of energy
  • lack of interest
  • low self esteem- feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • hopelessness
  • changes in movement- pacing or agitation
  • physical aches and pains

There is Hope

Where to Get Help

  • Connect on NAMI Peer to Peer
  • Call 1-800-950-6264 or email for resources on depression
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255

Escaping through Literature

One of the things Robin Williams talked about was using alcohol as an escape. Reading about people who have problems similar to yourself can also be an escape. The book God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise is a book of poetry dealing with sadness and other emotions. The book, Spellbound by the same author is historical fantasy often about people who are depressed the same as people today and going through some difficult things. Due to the fact that the book is fantasy, it can be read as a non-drug means of escaping. Robin Williams and others who have dealt with depression experienced the difficulties of using alcohol and other drugs as means of escaping. Reading can be a positive, non-drug means of escaping.

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