Social Media Skews Depression

Social media does damage to people's perceptions of mental health.

Kristina Vakhman

Social media does damage to people's perceptions of mental health.

Melody Rivera, Staff Writer

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Mental health awareness needs to be valued more highly on social media. Through these platforms, false stereotypes about mental illnesses are being created, leading users to lack understanding or sympathy for people battling anxiety and depression. 

Depression is not a disease. It is a mental disorder. Many people fail to realize that. Not everyone with depression behaves the same way or does things like lie in a dark room all day and ignore phone calls and text messages.

The thing about mental disorders, in general, is they are not clearly visible. I am pretty sure not a single person can diagnose another person simply because they lack emotions on their face and stay in bed all day.

Just because someone isolates themselves from people does not necessarily mean they have a mental illness. There is a possibility that could be the case, but this behavior isn’t a clear indicator of depression. It could be that a person simply prefers to be alone or enjoys personal time to relax.

A person who genuinely seems happy and seemingly has a good life can have depression. It is offensive to me when people on social media outlets post things claiming that if someone is constantly smiling and is very social then they can’t be depressed. That is absolutely absurd and false.

Studies have shown that people who appear happy on the outside can be struggling with depression just as much as anybody else. According to Psychology Today, some people can experience “smiling depression,” which can “employ humor as a defense mechanism to mask how they really feel. It may appear that they’re managing life easily, but they’re actually suffering in silence.”

The stereotype of a person battling depression unable to live a happy, fulfilling life needs to stop being reinforced because it is possible.

People should not judge someone based off of just a few behaviors that are listed on a social media post. Instead, they should attempt researching the actual disorder and getting a diagnosis from a professional doctor. Doing your own research on a subject, or consulting a doctor or therapist, will give you a much better idea of what you’re dealing with than a tweet or Facebook meme ever could.

Several health organizations have explained that discriminatory stigmas and stereotypes may, worsen someone’s mental health problems and delay or impede them from getting help, treatment and recovery,” like the Mental Health Foundation. By being ignorant of an individual’s mental health issues, damage can be done.

It is understandable why it is hard to tell if someone is depressed or not without the proper knowledge of the symptoms and behaviors. What I can’t understand is why people create stereotypes about mental illnesses when it is already difficult for people to go through. There are thousands of people on this earth who have suffered from depression and other mental illnesses and continue to deal with it every day.

It is time for people to bring true awareness to depression rather than sharing random posts that don’t explore it in its entirety.