About 20 million American adults suffer from major depression. Depression can cause persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness, along with physical symptoms that affect mood and energy levels.
Unfortunately, there’s a persistent stigma that surrounds depression and similar issues, such as anxiety, which can make people who have these issues feel embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty. That stigma exists in large part because there’s so much about the brain and brain function that we simply don’t understand.
At Bowman Medical Group in Beverly Hills, California, our team understands the many ways depression can affect our lives. This is why the depression treatment we provide is focused not only on managing the disease itself but also the side effects it can cause, such as feelings of embarrassment and guilt. In this post, our team offers four ways to deal with the feelings of embarrassment, so you can focus more of your energy on feeling better.
1. See the brain in a new light
Your brain is an organ, like your kidneys, heart, and liver. If you had a medical issue with any other organ — say, for example, kidney disease or heart disease — would you feel embarrassed? Of course not.
Depression isn’t something that’s “made up.” There are real chemical and biological reasons for the way you feel — just as there are for the diseases and disorders that affect your other organs. You wouldn’t feel embarrassed about other organ disorders, and there is absolutely no reason to feel embarrassed — or ashamed or guilty — about a problem involving your brain.
Because the stigma surrounding depression is long-standing and, in some cases, entrenched, it can be difficult convincing other people of this perspective. But what matters is that you understand that depression is a real medical problem, not something that’s “all in your head” or controllable with a little positive thinking.
2. Don’t listen to the chatter around you
Speaking of other people, you’ve probably encountered at least one or two well-meaning friends or loved ones who want to help you “snap out” of your depression by offering what they believe is supportive advice: “You have nothing to be depressed about,” “Think of all the things you have to be grateful for,” “So many people have it worse than you,” and so on.
While these people can mean well, these kinds of statements imply that your depression symptoms can be controlled with a little positive thinking or a change in your attitude. Remember, depression affects the way your brain — an organ — functions. You wouldn’t tell someone with diabetes to “just think in a positive way.” Likewise, depression needs medical care to manage the symptoms it causes.
Most people do mean well when they offer advice (although there may also be some frustration built in). Take it at face value — an effort by someone who cares about you but doesn’t fully understand what depression really is. Don’t internalize the messages or “translate” them into feelings of guilt.
3. Find the right treatment for your needs
Because depression affects the production and transmission of chemicals in your brain, it’s not a condition you can “fix” on your own. Medical therapy remains key in managing symptoms and, yes, feeling better about your life.
For most patients, depression treatment means a combination of medication and therapy aimed at helping people learn new, positive behaviors while “unlearning” negative thoughts that tend to become ingrained when battling depression. Our team offers several options for depression treatment, including:
- Therapy for individuals, couples, and groups
- Antidepressant medications
- Anti-anxiety medications
In addition, we offer transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and esketamine nasal spray (Spravato®) for people with treatment-resistant depression that hasn’t responded well to prior depression treatments.
4. Be kind to yourself
This last tip is perhaps the hardest of all for people battling depression, partly because depression causes a lot of negative thought processes that can be hard to break. Many people with depression are consumed by feelings of worthlessness and self-hatred or feelings that they deserve to fail or be unhappy.
Counseling and medication can help you see depression in a different light, helping you change the negative thought processes and feelings of self-hatred that often accompany depressive disorders. The key is to be kind enough to yourself initially to recognize that therapy can help, and that you’re worth helping.
You can manage your depression
Depression is a serious medical condition that can be managed with the right treatment. To learn more about the depression treatment options we offer at Bowman Medical Group, call 310-982-7003 to book an appointment today.