Many people don’t understand depression or just how debilitating it can be. They think that it’s all in your head, or that you’re just going through a rough patch. Some may even call depression an excuse.

In a blog post on Psychology Today, Stephen Ilardi gives good insight into depression:

When those suffering from depression confide their diagnosis to friends and family, they’re often met with relative indifference, born of the assumption that the patient is afflicted with mere sadness—a condition from which they can quickly and easily recover. As a result, depressed patients are often encouraged to snap out of it.

For a person struggling, talking about their depression might not be the easiest thing to do, and having someone write off their pain as an excuse or a rough patch isn’t going to help them get better.

It’s time to break the stigma associated with mental illness.

As many of you are probably aware, this past week Robin Williams took his own life. Williams had struggled with depression and drug and alcohol addiction over his lifetime, but was open about his challenges and sought rehabilitation multiple times.

Williams wasn’t alone. Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States (National Institutes of Mental Health). In 2012, an estimated 16 million adults, age 18 or older, in the United States reported at least one major depressive episode in the past year.

Symptoms of depression can range from person to person, but here is a list of some to be aware of:

  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Hopelessness
  • Worthlessness and/or helplessness
  • Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Headaches
  • Sadness and/or thoughts of suicide

Depression is much more than just a mental illness—it is a physical pain too. The feelings of sadness, guilt, and/or helplessness can become overwhelming and last for long periods of time.

But there is help. Treatment is something that varies from person to person, depending on his/her struggle. And as we try our best to further understand the many faces of depression, the ability to treat it is also evolving.

Hopefully, Robin Williams’ death can shed light on mental illness, as well as encourage those who are struggling to reach out for help before it’s too late.

Depression can be a lifelong condition that can strike at any age. Don’t let depression keep you from leading a normal, active life.

Are you or someone you know having suicidal thoughts? Please don’t hesitate to visit the Suicide Prevention Website, or call their hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. If you are battling depression or feeling depressed, please contact Reka for help by phone at 402-881-8125. You can also email her at, or connect with her via Twitter or Facebook.

Reaching out for help might seem difficult, but talking with someone could save your life.

photo credit: Helga Weber via photopin cc