In a society where mental illness is generally not well understood or accepted, negative stigmas are highly present in daily life for many people. Judgment is passed out like candy on Halloween regarding many different mental disorders, such as depression. In many ways, society blames a person for mental illness. Many people do not recognize disorders, like depression or anxiety, as legitimate illnesses. For example, health care insurance options for mental illness is extremely limited compared to the coverage offered for physical illness, which is discussed in detail by Dr. David Susman, in his article entitled “8 Reasons Why People Don’t Get Treatment For Mental Illness.” He explains that legislation was recently passed by the US Congress to address and correct these concerns, but that many details still need to be fine-tuned. In addition, those who suffer from symptoms of the sort often do not seek any treatment due to lack of resources or a fear of being judged by others. As reported by Fox News in an article entitled “More Than Half of US Adults With Mental Illness Don’t Get Needed Care,” approximately six out of ten young people suffering from major depression do not seek treatment in their life. Without proper treatment, many mental illnesses will develop and worsen over time. The negative stigmas surrounding depression directly impact the quality of life for those dealing with the illness. In many ways, these stigmas cause symptoms of the disorder to develop and intensify.
For many people, it is common vocabulary to refer to someone or something as crazy. The word is used in a variety of settings and scenarios. For example, if a person thought that he was going to score badly on an assessment but actually received a high grade, he may react by saying “That’s crazy!” If an upstanding member of society was convicted of a felony unexpectedly, people would respond similarly. “Crazy” can have many different meanings. Most often, it implies a sense of surprise or alarm.
Sometimes, the word can be used in a derogatory way. Without being politically correct, those with mental illnesses such as depression are often labeled in such a way as to be called crazy. People who are considered crazy are most often different than the mainstream of society. Some are outcasts and some display abnormal behaviors. However, abnormal is subjective. One person’s idea of abnormal could be entirely different than another’s. Abnormality could even be based on cultural differences. For example, in some cultures, it is abnormal for a person to walk inside a house without taking off his or her shoes. It is common to refer to abnormal behavior as crazy. However, different does not equal crazy. Therefore, abnormality does not equal craziness. This definition also explains why it is inaccurate to refer to someone with a mental illness as crazy. However, as stated in “Stigma Towards Mental Illness: A Concept Analysis Using Postpartum Depression as an Exemplar,” mental illness stigma is a serious issue in all cultures and ethnicities.
There are many negative stigmas regarding mental illnesses such as depression. Negative stigmatization of mental illness can be a theoretical death sentence for the self-esteem and confidence of an individual. By spreading a stereotype such as craziness in regards to illness, the problem itself escalates further. For example, discrimination against those suffering from mental illness prompts many people to not seek proper treatment. The fear of being judged by others inhibits their psychological well-being as a whole. People often do not seek treatment for serious mental health concerns due to the fear of being judged or accused of having self-inflicted their issues. As stated in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease in an article entitled “Mental Illness Stigma and Care Seeking,” fifty to sixty percent of people who would benefit from mental health treatment do not seek or receive it. People who suffer from these types of illnesses have to not only deal with the symptoms of the disorder, but they also have to deal with the struggles presented in society. Michael W. O’Hara explains in his article “The Nature of Postpartum Depressive Disorders,” that depression can have a significant effect on a person’s self-esteem. Therefore, the social stigma only worsens these feelings in an individual. They may face discrimination in the workplace or possible judgment in social environments. This negativity is created by the many negative stigmas that revolve around mental illness, and it does nothing but create false perceptions of the disease.
In addition, since many people with mental illness are assigned blame for their feelings, it may lead them to assign blame onto themselves as well. However, such thoughts are backwards and entirely counterintuitive. To be frank, the idea of depression as a whole makes people uncomfortable because it is not well understood. In response to this uneasiness, society attempts to “justify” depressive feelings on the basis of them being insincere. Depression is not brought upon willingly or intentionally by any person, so it is counterintuitive that people feel the need to assign blame for the disorder.
Labeling someone as crazy for an illness is not productive in any way, shape, or form. Negative stigmas revolve around these types of illnesses, which do nothing but worsen the lives of those who suffer from them and their families. It is important that the prejudice and complete discrimination of those suffering from a mental illness stops. Mental illness, specifically depression, does not have cause for blame in a person. Assigning blame to a mental illness such as depression as a method of reasoning does nothing but worsen possible symptoms and negative feelings that one may be experiencing. The lack of knowledge that many have of the illness causes a stigma that those with depression are “crazy” and looking for attention. However, such thoughts are demented and ignorant. The idea of depression as a whole often makes people squirm because it is not well understood. The stigmas related to the illness are so great that many people feel uncomfortable even talking about them. Therefore, minimal progress has been made to broaden people’s knowledge of mental illness. Instead, in response to this uneasiness, society attempts to “justify” depressive feelings on the basis of them being insincere. Depression is not desired by any person, so it is counterintuitive that people feel the need to assign blame for the disorder. Therefore, assigning blame for depression does nothing but worsen heavily stigmatized thoughts on the disorder as a whole. It is the hope that over time, society will become more accepting of mental illness and all that it entails. Society needs to realize that being different does not make someone less of a person. Discrimination and prejudice related to the topic needs to end.
Negative stigmas can lead to negative, hurtful labels, and it can lead to symptoms of loneliness and distress. The common term of calling someone crazy if they are different in any way plays an extremely significant role in the field of mental illness. Calling someone crazy is an ignorant way of looking for causation. Since mental illnesses such as depression are not well understood, it makes people uneasy. Therefore, calling someone crazy is an implication that blame has been assigned. It does not make sense that a serious illness that is most often caused by traumatic events or biological chemical changes can be one’s “fault” for having. People are not blamed for illnesses such as cancer or diabetes, so it is unfair that others are blamed for having a mental illness of any kind. The lack of knowledge that many have of the illness causes a stigma that those with depression are “crazy” and looking for attention. Unfortunately, these ignorant thoughts are extremely prevalent in daily life for those struggling with mental illness, and they can prove troubling in a variety of ways over the span of a person’s life.
According to stereotypes and how mental illness has been portrayed throughout history in media, those suffering from a mental health issue are “crazy” or “insane.” The media’s depiction of a “crazy” person often stems from severely abnormal behaviors. The media is a direct factor as to why some people do not respect people dealing with mental illness, which is further explained in Patrick Corrigan’s “On the Stigma of Mental Illness: Practical Strategies for Research and Social Change.” The person who sits by themselves on the subway, mumbling under their breath at no one is “crazy.” Imagine this person, who is very alert and aware of everything going on around him. His eyes are very wide and he appears to be in a great amount of distress. Physically, he looks to be sweating profusely, and he is tapping his foot very quickly. He continues to mumble and scan his eyes around the subway car. His talking begins to get louder and turns into a shout as he yells at no one. In reaction, the surrounding passengers sense that he is extremely angered and frightened. To them, the man appears to be the exact definition of “crazy.” Upon further psychological inspection, it could be assumed that the man is suffering from delusions and hallucinations. He may have schizophrenia, which is believed to be caused by a mixture of genetics, brain chemistry, and environment. Many of these factors are uncontrollable, and therefore, the man could not control the onset of his illness. The passengers on the subway are judgmental and think that the man is causing an unnecessary scene. However, the man is ill and cannot be blamed for “looking for attention” or “making up” his symptoms, as these thoughts are untrue.
Now imagine Jane, who is a young woman also sitting on the subway car. She was recently diagnosed with major depressive disorder. However, she is struggling to accept to her diagnosis. While witnessing the events transpose on the subway with the man, she can clearly see the hurtful judgment on the faces of the other passengers. No one seems to be concerned for his well-being. Everyone tries to keep their distance and avoid eye contact. This behavior angers Jane. She can sense the cruel thoughts that all of the witnesses have regarding the man. They all think that he is “crazy.” No one acknowledged his behavior as a legitimate mental illness or health risk. Jane compares this man to herself. She does not want to be labeled as “crazy” for her mental illness, so she does everything that she can to keep it a secret, even from her loved ones. She stops receiving treatment and attempts to ignore her symptoms. However, these actions cause Jane to struggle with her emotions and hinders her well-being greatly. Her fear of being stigmatized and judged indirectly caused her symptoms of depression to increase.
There are many reasons why a person may not receive treatment for a mental illness. Among these are the fear of being judged and feeling as though they are a failure if they seek treatment. Social constructs in our society cause self-doubt when a person is debating seeking help. Factors other than the person’s well-being often overpowers their health, which should be most important. Fox News documented that approximately 56% of people fail to receive treatment for major depression, for a variety of reasons. However, one of the most influential reasons as to why a person would avoid seeking treatment stems from fear of judgment by others, including family members, close friends, and co-workers. The pressure that many feel to be “perfect” causes many to deny symptoms of mental illness, which can lead to destructive and degenerative behavior. If the negative stigma regarding mental illness did not exist, or even if it was not as severe as it actually is, many more people would seek treatment for mental health issues. In turn, by receiving proper care, the quality of life for those suffering from mental illness would increase dramatically. For many, treatment would help to reduce symptoms and daily struggles caused by the issue.
As a society, we treat mental illness as a taboo topic. It is not well understood and therefore often misunderstood. There are many negative stigmas surrounding the idea of mental health issues as a whole. Many do not even acknowledge disorders such as depression and anxiety as legitimate illnesses. In addition, those who suffer from mental illnesses are often falsely labeled with hateful and cruel words such as “crazy” or “unstable.” If someone suffers from a mental health issue, society will often blame the person. If someone is depressed, he is causing it himself. If someone is anxious, she is looking for attention. However, these stigmas and stereotypes are spread by ignorance and an overall lack of understanding of mental health. They can cause severe damage to an individual’s well-being. Stigmas cast mental illness in a very dark shadow, which causes people to deny many if not all of their symptoms. Over time, the denial of symptoms due to fear of judgment can eventually lead to a decline in mental health when a person has an illness. Negative stigmas regarding mental health directly impacts a person’s management of an illness. These stigmas indirectly cause symptoms to intensify and affect people’s lives negatively. Not everyone acknowledges that the negative ideas surrounding depression are highly exaggerated and often fabricated. Some people question the legitimacy of the disorder, arguing that it is not real for a variety of reasons.
Many people agree with the argument, which is that depression is not a legitimate illness. This argument proposes that depression is exaggerated sadness and those who say that they have the disorder are attention-seeking. In addition, proponents for a similar argument say that although the symptoms of depression are real, depression itself is not an illness. Dr. Greg Henriques argued this point in an article entitled “Anxiety and Depression Are Symptoms, Not Diseases,” posted by Psychology Today. He states that anxiety and depression are only symptoms of a greater illness, but that they are not diseases in themselves. This statement degrades the legitimacy of an illness that so many suffer from without suffering from another illness.
For many, it is difficult to distinguish between those who are exaggerating emotions for the purpose of gaining sympathy and attention from those who are genuinely suffering from chronic negative emotions, which is depression. Therefore, it is a common misconception to believe that those who are chronically depressed are actually just looking for attention.
The idea that depression is not an actual illness is entirely invalid. There is an ample amount of scientific evidence proving that the brain imaging of a person with depression looks different than a person without depression. There is a neurological factor that contributes to depression that cannot be “faked.” Therefore, it is not true that depression is just people exaggerating and seeking attention. However, people with depression have a physical chemical imbalance that impacts their mood, as stated in the article “Hormonal Changes in the Postpartum and Implications for Postpartum Depression.” The information in this article is relevant to major depressive disorder even though it discusses postpartum depression, as the symptoms of both disorders are extremely similar. It is true that there are people who exaggerate their emotions for the purpose of gathering sympathy and attention from others. This type of person does not necessarily have depression. Depression is a legitimate mental illness that affects many people of all ages, races, and genders.
Many people suffering from depression are discredited in a variety of ways. People do not understand how they feel. People disrespect the idea of the disease. Therefore, many sufferers refuse to acknowledge their illness or seek treatment. This negative perspective can lead to a worsening of the illness. With aid from this mindset, many negative stigmas about mental illness, specifically depression, have developed. These negative stigmas imply that it is not acceptable to have a mental illness. According to them, people with mental illnesses are “crazy” or “insane.” The negative thoughts surrounding depression and other mental illnesses lead to people not seeking treatment out of fear of being judged. In turn, the symptoms of mental illness may get worse. Therefore, negative stigmas regarding depression lead to a worsening of overall symptoms of the illness.
A common worry that many people suffering from depression have is that people are not going to believe them. Unfortunately, there is a stigma in place that many believe to be accurate, which is that depression is not a real illness. However, depression is a disease that can be proven neurologically through brain imaging. Depressed people are not looking for attention. Depression needs to recognized for what it is, a legitimate disorder.
In conclusion, it is common in our society to discredit those individuals suffering from depression, while also discrediting the illness itself as a whole. However, this belief is inaccurate. There are major differences between a person that exaggerates in an attempt to gather sympathy and a person that has depression. Depression is caused by a combination of environmental factors and chemical imbalances. The chronic negative emotions and feelings of worthlessness that a person experiences while dealing with depression are debilitating. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 80% of Americans over the age of 12 experienced depression in a two-week time period. 27% of these people faced significant difficulties in their work and home environments. Based on this information, it is obvious that the experience of depression is genuine. The illness is just as “real” as cancer or diabetes. Disrespecting a person based on their mental health is common in today’s world, but it is not justified in any way. In turn, it is important that our society begins to understand and respect those with depression. In the words of Barbara Hocking in her article entitled “Reducing Mental Illness Stigma and Discrimination – Everybody’s Business,” the community needs to improve upon their “mental health literacy.” In order to make progressive steps towards a better society, we must be accepting, understanding, and knowledgeable of the symptoms surrounding depression, as we are with all other illnesses, regardless of whether or not we experience those symptoms ourselves.
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