The Silent Struggle: Breaking the Stigma and Addressing Depression

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|

Depression, often referred to as the silent struggle, affects millions of people worldwide, yet it remains shrouded in stigma and misunderstanding. Many suffer in silence, fearing judgment or feeling isolated in their pain. This article aims to break the stigma surrounding depression, shedding light on its realities and encouraging open, compassionate conversations. By addressing depression candidly, we can foster a more supportive environment where individuals feel empowered to seek help and embark on the path to healing.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some of their symptoms are:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outburst, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness

What are the types of depression?

  1. Major depression: You might have loss of interest or pleasure in your activities; weight loss or gain; trouble getting to sleep or feeling sleepy during the day; feeling worthless or guilty.
  2. Persistent depressive disorder: this depression lasts for 2 years or longer. You may have change in your appetite; sleeping too much or too little; lack of energy; low self-esteem.
  3. Bipolar disorder: someone with bipolar disorder, which is also sometimes called “manic depression”, has mood episodes that range from extremes of high energy with an “up” mood to low “depressive” periods.
  4. Seasonal affective disorder is a period of major depression that most often happens during winter months, when the days grow short, and you get less and less sunlight. It typically goes away in the spring and summer.
  5. Psychotic depression: have the symptoms of major depression along with “psychotic” symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions; paranoia.
  6. Peripartum (Postpartum) depression: women who have major depression in the weeks and months after childbirth.
  7. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): Women with PMDD have depression and other symptoms at the start of their period. Besides feeling depressed, you may also have mood swings, irritability, anxiety, trouble concentrating, fatigue, change in appetite or sleep habits, feelings of being overwhelmed.
  8. ‘Situational’ depression: This isn’t a technical term in psychiatry. But you can have a depressed mood when you are having trouble managing a stressful event in your life, such as a death in your family, a divorce, or losing your job. Your doctor may call this “stress response syndrome”.

The World Health Organization determined some key facts about depression: Depression is a common mental disorder; globally, an estimated 5% of adults suffer from depression, more women are affected by depression than men, depression can lead to suicide, there is effective treatment for mid, moderate and severe depression. “Depression can affect every aspect of your life, including the way you sleep or eat, education or career, your health, and concentration, as well as your relationships. Depression does not occur in a vacuum. It can also affect family, friends, and co-workers.”

It is important to mention that “individuals with depression may often hear this from friends or family who don’t properly understand their difficulties and who therefore lack sympathy with them. However, depression, like any physical illness takes a real toll on our health and wellbeing, and like any illness requires empathy and warrants effective treatment. We would not expect someone with a physical condition such as diabetes to just ‘get on with it’ without proper care, so why does this happen with depression? People who experience depression are just lazy and mentally weak; depression and sadness are the same thing; depression is just the result of a having a tough time; if you are depressed, you need to take anti-depressant medications; people with depression just need to snap out of it.”

What long-term emotional risks and consequences are caused by untreated depression? According to Genesight:

  • Depression and pain share similar pathways in the brain, which is why people with depression also may experience everyday aches and pains, headaches, backaches, stomachaches, and joint and muscle aches. In fact, people with these symptoms may go to the doctor and learn that they have depression.
  • Depression can put a heavy strain on relationships, leading to lost friendships, severed connections, and break ups or divorces.
  • Depression robs you of your motivation. In fact, you may find that you are unable to perform your usual task, whether assignments at work or chores at home. This is because, as depressive symptoms increase, productivity typically decreases.
  • The connection between depression and alcohol or drug dependencies goes both ways.

If we want to talk about the treatment, “medications and psychotherapy are effective for most people with depression. Your primary care doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe medications to relieve symptoms. However, many people with depression also benefit from seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional. If you have severe depression, you may need a hospital stay, or you may need to participate in an outpatient treatment program until your symptoms improve.” Depression affects millions globally, yet it remains misunderstood and stigmatized. By addressing it openly and compassionately, we can create a more supportive environment for those struggling with this silent affliction. Awareness and education about the different types of depression, their symptoms, and available treatments are vital. Recognizing depression as a serious medical condition rather than a sign of weakness is the first step towards helping those affected. Together, we can break the stigma and ensure that everyone can seek the help they need and deserve.


«Addressing Stereotypes in Depression». FutureLearn,  

Bruce, Debra Fulghum y PhD. «Types of Depression». WebMD,

Depression – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

«Depression (Major Depressive Disorder) – Symptoms and Causes». Mayo Clinic,  

Depressive Disorder (Depression).  

«Risks & Consequences Caused by Untreated Depression?» GeneSight,, Guest Author for. Depression and Its Effect on Your Life.

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