So this one might be a little contentious, but hey, I want us to talk so I’m going to throw it out there. I had a really interesting conversation with Therapist yesterday about how depression is marketed, for want of a better word, ie, the language we use to talk about it.

I’ve always had an issue with the term ‘I suffer from depression’. Therapist challenged me on this. Why? So it got me thinking. For me, I found a great sense of relief and freedom in being told I had clinical depression. I wasn’t suffering from it, that wasn’t how it was presented to me. I had it. It meant it was no longer my fault that things were as bad as they were, that in fact there was a medical reason for it. I would rather say ‘I have depression’ than ‘I suffer’. I don’t know, there’s something about that term that has a touch of martyrdom and melodrama to it. It’s almost as if by saying ‘I suffer from depression’ that it’s making the misery of it worse than it already is.

When we talk about other illnesses, we don’t ‘suffer’ them, we have them. I have the flu, I have diabetes, I have cancer. Yes, there’s suffering involved in all of them, but that’s not how we talk about it. I wonder, does the language we use when we talk about depression actually contribute to the stigma? It’s an illness, just like any other, so does it deserve a separate terminology? I realise I’m getting lost in semantics here but this is something I’m genuinely curious about. For me, when I’m talking to people about it, it feels less threatening to say ‘I have depression’, it normalises it in some way, or at least it does in my head! I certainly find it easier to say, and anything that makes this particular conversation easier is a bonus in my book!

What do you think? Do you have depression? Do you suffer from depression? Are you depressed? Are you prone to depressive episodes? I’d love to hear your views on this.

This article has 1 Comment

  1. That's a really good point. Language can so easily affect your perspective. 'Suffer' implies it has complete ownership, always. 'I have', or 'I get bouts of' or 'I have depressive episodes' shows that it might take over sometimes, but not always.

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