New research suggests many people don’t get help for depression, with many more suffering than seeking help. Depression itself leads people to isolate, doubt isolations’s impact, and ultimately resist the very treatment that can help. I was pleased to weigh in for this SELF piece examining why so many people don’t get help for depression.
Licensed clinical psychologist John Mayer, Ph.D., author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, tells SELF people often don’t feel they deserve help since they don’t view depression as the disease it is. That’s because depression has a terrible ability to warp the mind. It’s “an insidious condition that makes it hard to see clearly what is going on,” licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., tells SELF, adding that it “saps the precious energy it can take to seek help.”
Depression also often comes with a sense of hopelessness, or a belief that things won’t change no matter what you do, which doesn’t help when it comes to deciding to get treatment, Clark says. But unfortunately, not getting care can make things even worse. “This hopelessness, if left unchecked, can feed a vicious cycle of shame, guilt, and inertia that worsen symptoms over time,” Clark says.
Finally, depression can make people feel that their symptoms are their fault. “This shame is one of the most dangerous barriers to treatment,” says Clark.
Depression is “highly treatable” for most people, Clark says, noting that a combination of psychotherapy and medication is often the most effective. “Medication can help rebalance brain chemistry, and psychotherapy or counseling help build more resilient coping strategies,” she says.