Health

This Bad Tweet Shows How Depression Is Still Misunderstood

Despite the fact  depression is "one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S.," according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), it's still widely misunderstood

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An old tweet from RT, the Russian government's media outlet, is attracting new attention due to the inaccurate summation of how to overcome depression.

Many people were furious with RT's suggestion one can simply "say 'no' to depression," recognizing that it's a serious disorder and not something one elects to have.

Though RT's tweet is going viral now, at the time it was tweeted it also received scorn.

Still, some defended the tweet, perhaps not understanding what depression truly is.

On Tuesday, more people were driving home how insensitive the suggestion was.

Clinical depression isn't the same as just "feeling sad."

As NIMH explains, depression is a "serious mood disorder" that "causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working."

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There are five different forms of depression under the DSM-5 diagnostic classification used by the American Psychiatric Association. They are:

  • Persistent depressive disorder (also known as dysthymia), which NIMH explains is "a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years."
  • Perinatal depression (often referred to as post-partum depression), which can occur after birth and is, as NIMH explains, "much more serious than the 'baby blues'" and in fact  "full-blown major depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression)." Sufferers experience "extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion."
  • Psychotic depression, which can come with delusions or hallucinations.
  • Seasonal affective disorder, which typically occurs among winter months and comes with symptoms of "social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder."
  • Bipolar disorder, which NIMH recognizes as not being the same thing as depression, is considered related "because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major depression (called 'bipolar depression')." Bipolar disorder is typically categorized by extreme highs ("mania") and extreme lows.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that "more than 15 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year," suffer from a major depressive disorder.

In the same way that you wouldn't say to someone with a serious physical disability, "just get over it," you shouldn't say that to someone with depression.

Update 4/13 2:32 p.m. PST: This story was edited to reflect that the low forms of of bipolar disorder are not "hypomania," as hypomania is a also a high, albeit a less extreme one than "mania."

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