Symptoms of depression: a paradox in today’s society

Reading Time: 2 minutes Depression and other disorders have worsened during and after the pandemic. To manage these complications, it is necessary to talk about them in order to move forward. What is depression and what are its symptoms?

A car drives solo along a treacherous mountain road.Reading Time: 2 minutes

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.”

The American Psychiatric Association lists some common symptoms students and the general public may feel when experiencing depression:

1. A decreased interest in activities.

2. Weight loss or gain.

3. Insomnia or hypersomnia.

4. Fatigue or loss of energy.

5. Feeling worthless or guilty.

6. Decreased ability to think or concentrate. 

Despite these known symptoms, however, depression remains a paradox. According to “Depression in Adolescence,” an article published by Professor Anita Thapar et al. in the National Library of Medicine, mental health in the United States continues to be a problem because it may prevent people from going to a specialist who can help with the disorder. Likewise, it is known that depression is common among adolescents worldwide, affecting an estimated 5%-8% of adolescents each year, according to Dr. Sung E. Son of the American Family Physician

Additionally, many people hold fears that going to a psychologist would denote them as “crazy” to friends or family members. This pattern of thinking denies the validity of mental health complications and fuels the paradox of depression. According to Huntsville Professional Counseling, one may understand there are medical issues that involve mental health but still hold a negative view about depression and therapy treatment. These negative views include:

1. Public Stigma – Referring to the stigma caused by the public or society about mental illness. This also includes negative attitudes towards it. 

2. Self-Stigma – The feeling an individual has about their mental illness. They are shameful and negative towards their mental health, which may lead to refusal and ignorance of all symptoms. 

3. Institutional Stigma – This is more about the government and other organizations limiting the opportunities for people that have a mental illness. This might mean limiting research or funding for mental health services.

According to Conner Wishart, a UVU student majoring in biology, “Many people tend to ignore their feelings so as not to think about going to therapy and be seen badly by the stigmas that there are of people who need a therapist.” 

When Samuel Whitlock, another UVU student, was asked about why he thinks people may reject going to therapy, he said, “There is a mistaken belief about what is done in therapy or in appointments with the psychologist, and also you have to know that going to therapy does not mean being crazy.” 

Despite efforts to promote the widespread recognition of mental health, part of society remains doubtful. This neglect has caused countless high-risk situations and prevented the negative impacts of depression and other mental disorders from diminishing.

Therefore, the depression paradox comes from several factors: the person’s perception of the disorder, the way in which society accepts or rejects treatment of the disorder, and the continual skepticism that surrounds the culture of mental health care.  

It is important that we as a society promote the culture of mental health care so as to avoid its prevalence in society and help those who struggle. For more information on counseling for mental health, please contact UVU Mental Health Services.