How many of you out there have ever wondered if depression is in fact contagious? The reactions so many of us get when we tell loved ones of our condition would lead us to believe that they fear catching depression, like one would catch a cold or chicken pox. Their denial, fear, misunderstanding, or abandonment of us is a strong testament to this contagen theory. However, science tells us that depression is a result of physical changes occurring in the brain, which leads to chemical imbalances, hence the depression.
Both fact and fiction aside, there can be no worse experience for the depressed person than to see someone they love act so negatively. This kind of reaction can make a depressed person feel even more isolated and hopeless then before. To have those people who we trust so deeply reject us; can there be no greater set back for us?
Instead, what we need from our loved ones is their support, understanding and willingness to help see us through the depression, especially the initial period following diagnosis. To ensure our loved ones' support, we must educate ourselves as to what depression is beyond the complex feelings that we experience. By doing this, we can better convey to our loved ones what depression is, how common it is, and especially how treatable it is. Instead, if we choose to be unprepared and uneducated, the chances are far greater that those around us will react unfavorably towards us, leaving us to feel all sorts of negative things about ourselves because we could not get from them what we need most…understanding.
Also, it is important to note that depression has a hereditary factor associated with it. In such a situation, it is possible that one or both parents may have depression. Increasing the chances that their offspring will develop this condition. If the parental depression is present but has never been diagnosed, their negative reaction toward their child could be even greater.
In addition, the fear of receiving a negative reaction can compel some of us not to seek help. The idea of family or friends becoming aware of our condition can have a debilitating affect on us. This fear can prevent us from seeking the necessary confirmation of the condition and seeking professional help. This avoidance of diagnosis and treatment is far more serious than any negative reaction that may come from our loved ones.
To deal with all situations, we must remind ourselves that our physical and emotional well being is paramount. We must convince ourselves that seeking professional help is more important than what others think. That treatment for depression can allow us an opportunity to regain a positive outlook on life. To deny us of this opportunity is to deny ourselves the freedom and dignity that each and every one of us prizes above all else. To lock ourselves within a world of internal depression by hiding behind doors, never going out, and never speaking to others is the greatest harm we can do to ourselves.
The choice is ours and ours alone to make. We can worry about what others think or how they will act or we can concern ourselves with our needs and seek out the professional help that we so desperately need. It is up to us to do the right thing before it's too late. By seeking professional guidance and educating ourselves about depression, we can show those we love that depression is NOT contagious.
The thoughts expressed in this article are my own and it is my attempt to share with others the things I see and feel as a person who suffers from depression. It is my hope that somewhere within this article you find the words that will help you to make the right choices about your life.