Mood Disorders

Zeeshan Hafiz

Depression and Media

Depression affects more than 20 million people, and that’s only in the United States. Depression is considered a serious mental health disorder, but it is relatively common. When media first began talking about depression, it has been blamed for giving inaccurate depictions about the disorder making it very difficult for those suffering to seek proper health. Recently, things are changing and media can actually be used as a positive tool for those seeking help for their depression. Depression wasn’t recognized as a disease category until the 1950s by the medical community. Popular media began giving ideas about depression as soon as it became a condition that had a name, such as what type of medication to take (tranquilizers/antidepressants) and specific causes as to why depression happens. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, openly talking about depression and other health disorders was rare. Later on in the 1990s depression gained more media attention thanks to television and magazine ads for prescription drugs. Whether media depictions are accurate or not, they are used as a type of education for people seeking information on depression. However, people who have depression can be stereotyped by the media. For example, women in advertisements for depression look horrible, worn, and single. After they get on their depression treatment they look better and are seen with a man in the advertisements. Those characteristics are not true for all women that have depression. Majority of mental health experts are beginning to agree that depression being discussed in the media can be used as a positive tool to remove the stigma of seeking help (Stresing, 2014).

Stigmas and Myths

There are also stigmas and myths associated with mental illness and depression in particular. One myth is that mental illnesses only affect a few people. Mental illnesses are actually very common affects people of all ages, education, and income levels. Many believe mental illnesses are caused by a personal weakness. Having a mental illness is not a character flaw and those who seek and accept help are actually showing a sign of strength. Despite popular belief, people with mental illnesses do get better with the right treatment and go on to live fulfilling lives. Those who have a mental illness, like depression, can’t just pull themselves out of it because it is not caused by a personal weakness, and cannot be cured by a personal strength. Another stigma of mental illnesses is that those who have one are violent. Those who have a mental illness are no more violent than the rest of the population. Instead of being violent towards others, someone with a mental illness is more likely to harm themselves. Those are considered some stigmas and myths associated with depression and other mental health disorders (Mental Health Commission, 2010).

What are some reasons that an individual with a mood disorder may not receive the necessary treatment?

There are also reasons why an individual with a mental illness may not receive necessary treatment. There is a lot of help for mental illnesses such as hotlines, mental health resource locators, therapists, and doctors. Those with a mental illness don’t realize that by delaying getting some help, their disorder can actually get worse. One reason they don’t seek treatment is because people are afraid of mental illnesses. No one wants to admit that they have a mental health disorder, so most people just act like it isn’t there. Another reason people don’t receive necessary treatment is because they have a lack of insight on their particular disorder. Just like people are afraid of mental illnesses, they are also afraid of getting help for their mental illness. People get afraid because they have images, depicted through media, of over-medicated zombies and the thought of being forced into a hospital or mental health asylum. There are unique cases like that, but the majority of people seeking help get successful treatment. Those are considered some reasons why an individual may not want to get proper treatment for their mental illness (BipolarBurble, 2014).

Gender and Cultural Differences

Gender and cultural differences also play a role in mental health illnesses. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men, but they respond better to medication used to treat the disorder. Factors such as social support, economic status, and cultural expectations also have an impact on an individual’s likeliness to get depressed (APP, 2014). Different cultures have their own views on what is normal and what is abnormal. This makes the conception of mental health disorders get “tied into whether or not members of a culture will seek help, what kind of help these individuals will seek and from whom” (Hall, 2014).

If someone suspects that they or someone they know has symptoms of depression, what should they do?

If someone suspects that they or someone they know has symptoms of depression they should first get support from their loved ones. Getting support can help lift depression and keep it away. After getting support that person should work on challenging negative thinking. By replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, a person with depression can have a more optimistic mindset. It is also important for that depressed person to take care of themselves. This can include having a healthy diet, getting good sleep, and scheduling fun activities to keep your mind occupied. Exercise is also very important when it comes to depression. Having a regular exercise program can be just as effective as using an antidepressant medication. If the depression starts getting worse the individual can look to seek more help. This doesn’t make the person weak, but there are cases where depression makes a person feel lost but it can get better (Helpguide, 2014)!