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Breaking the Stigma: How to Talk to Your Friends and Family About Your Depression

. Written by Marleen Filimon

According to a report by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the prevalence of depression in adult Canadians is estimated to be around 5%. This means that approximately 1.6 million adults in Canada are affected by depression.

Depression is more common among women than men, with an estimated 6% of women experiencing depression compared to 4% of men. Depression is also more common among certain age groups, with the highest rates found in individuals between the ages of 15 and 24.

What is Depression?

Depression is a mental health condition that affects a person’s mood, thoughts, and behaviour. It is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness, as well as a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable. Depression can also cause physical symptoms such as changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, and fatigue. It can range in severity from mild to severe, and can be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

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“Depression is a battle, and every battle is fought differently. What works for one person might not work for another. The important thing is to never give up, to keep fighting, and to keep looking for the tools and strategies that will help you win the battle.” 
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– Unknown

There are different treatments for depression, typically includes a combination of therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and support from loved ones. There are many reasons why it can be difficult to start up a conversation about your depression. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health issues like depression, and people may fear being judged or seen as weak if they disclose their struggles.

Loved ones may not fully understand depression or how it affects people, which can make it difficult to have a productive conversation about it. A big road block to starting up this conversations is the fear of judgement, a fear that the other person will not understand or acknowledge depression, and the fact that talking about a big topic like this can go hand-in-hand with fearfulness and anxiety.

Seven Tips To Start The Conversation

  1. Start the conversation in a safe and private space: Choose a time and place where you feel comfortable and safe to talk. This might be in your home, a park, or a quiet coffee shop.
  2. Be honest and open about your feelings: Tell your friends and family how you’re feeling and why you think you might be experiencing depression. Use “I” statements to avoid blaming or accusing language.
  3. Explain what depression is and isn’t: Many people don’t fully understand what depression is and how it affects people. Be sure to explain the symptoms, causes, and treatments for depression.
  4. Ask for their support: Let your friends and family know what kind of support you need from them. This might be just listening, accompanying you to appointments, or helping you with household tasks when you’re feeling low.
  5. Be patient and understanding: It may take some time for your friends and family to understand your experience and adjust to the new information. Be patient and understanding, and give them time to process their feelings.
  6. Provide resources and information: Offer resources and information about depression and where they can go for help and support. This might include therapy, support groups, or crisis hotlines.
  7. Set boundaries: It’s important to set boundaries with your friends and family to protect your mental health. Let them know what you’re comfortable sharing and what you’d prefer to keep private.

Taking the courageous step of opening up to friends and family about your depression is a powerful act of self-care and vulnerability. By sharing your struggles, you create an opportunity for understanding, support, and connection. Remember, it’s normal to feel apprehensive, but the benefits of sharing your journey far outweigh the risks. By implementing the tips discussed in this article – from finding the right time and place to expressing your emotions honestly – you can pave the way for meaningful conversations that break down stigma and foster genuine support. Through these conversations, you are not only empowering yourself but also contributing to a more compassionate and understanding world. Remember, you don’t have to face depression alone—reach out, lean on your loved ones, and let them be a source of strength on your path towards healing and recovery.

Marleen Filimon - Business Owner - PMP Matters
Talking about depression can be challenging, but it’s an important step towards healing and recovery. Be kind to yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from a therapist or support group if you need it.
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Marleen Filimon is the founder and CEO of Private Matters Psychotherapy
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