Talking About Depression - Why People Don't Talk About Depression Online

Jordan Brown

Writing about depression at the start of a week?

Bold move, I know.

But depression is not something I often write about, and it's not something that gets as much attention as other mental health conditions.

So I think it's important to raise awareness.

I've dealt with it. Many, many others have as well. According to the most recent data from the National Institute of Mental Health, 17.3 million adults have a major depressive episode in a year.

If that's the case, why aren't more people talking about it online?

This may be why.

Words That Connect - The Online Landscape

Before we get into depression, let's consider what people do talk about online.

A lot of attention goes towards anxiety. Anxiety is something that is easy relate to--or so people think. Everyone experiences anxiety differently. But anxiety seems like it can be funny--or cute, even. It's easier to crack jokes about anxiety and the embarrassing situations it causes. Anxiety goes well with memes and funny GIFs. Anxiety is safe.

I'm not saying this is right. I'm saying this happens. Online, people find it easy to connect over their anxiety. It's mostly innocuous. It rarely gets to the details of how debilitating anxiety is. Anxiety has absolutely derailed my life at times, but that side of anxiety often doesn't appear online.

And now we're starting to get to the reason that, I think, people don't talk about depression.

Where Depression Fits In

Depression is deflating. Depression is all-consuming. It's a life takeover.

When I experienced depression off and on for a few years, I thought I'd never get out. I couldn't understand how anyone could ever laugh about anything. I didn't even wonder where all my energy went because--and this I realized after the depressive episodes were all over--that I mentally no longer knew what it felt like to have energy. When it came back, it was as if a new limb emerged on my body.

And this is getting to the heart of it. If you have depression, you typically don't even have the energy to post about it online. You don't have the energy to relate to others. Scratch that--you may not even have the ability to do that.

Because depression, along with other mental health conditions, makes a person go inwards. It's a self-centered afflictions The world seems very small when you are dealing with serious mental health issues.

And so if you do see comments about depression online, it's easy to think that the person making the comment is making it all about them. It's tempting to judge the person and discredit them. Because, when you're online, who really knows? Maybe that person is making it all about them?

The context is missing, so it's hard to make a complete assessment.

In Summary - Dig Deeper When Chatting Online

This is just one man's exploration of the state of mental health awareness online. It's one point of view.

We never really know what someone's going through when they make a comment on social media. If we don't ask follow-up questions to get to know them, we can only guess what their experience is like.

So let this be a thought beacon for the week. Let this help you consider what is going on behind the screen for the people with whom you communicate.

Do we really ever know why people share what they share online?

No, not really.

But we can do our best to make the compassionate effort to figure it out.