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I’m Embarrassed About My Depression

Written by Evolve's Behavioral Health Content Team​:

Alyson Orcena, LMFT, Melissa Vallas, MD, Shikha Verma, MD, Ellen Bloch, LCSW, Lianne Tendler, LMFT, Megan Johnston, LMFT
Meet The Team >

If you have a mental health issue like depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you might try to keep it a secret from friends and family because you’re embarrassed about it.

Let us come right out and say now that, contrary to what you think, this is okay.

Not the part about feeling ashamed – we’ll get into that soon.

But the part about not wanting to tell friends and family about it?

That’s justified.

Let’s get into this in more detail.

Shame About Mental Health Issues

Though society has come a long way in reducing the stigma against mental health disorders, it still exists among certain circles. This stigma is perpetuated by people – oftentimes adolescents and teens – who carelessly throw around mental health terms when they’re not clinically justified.

Teens say things like this:

She’s psychotic.” 

“He’s mentally ill.”

“He’s a retard.

Unfortunately, this stigma increases shame in teens who actually have mental health conditions.

Thankfully, there are many nonprofits that work to reduce this stigma around mental health issues. Organizations like The National Association on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Trevor Project, Ok2Talk, the Crisis Text Line can help you learn more about your depression, clear up misconceptions, and serve as a resource to teens exactly like you. Their one, unifying goal is to help you realize that there is no reason to feel ashamed of your depression.

Statistics on Depression

The facts show that millions of teens around the world struggle with depression. In 2017 alone, an estimated 3.2 million adolescents – that’s more than 13 percent of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17 – had at least one major depressive episode. And this was in the United States alone!

Around the world, the numbers are even more staggering. A report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017 shows that around 322 million people on earth live with some form of clinical depression. That’s close to five percent of the entire population of the planet. Suffice it to say, depression is one of the most common chronic diseases on earth.

You are not alone.

Hopefully, realizing how many people are in the same boat as you can help you feel less embarrassed about your depression.

I Don’t Want Other People to Know

Fine, you’re saying now. Okay. I don’t have to feel embarrassed about having a mental health condition that three million other teens also have.

But do I have to tell everyone about it?

The answer here is absolutely not.

Besides for your therapist, school guidance counselor, and parents, there is no reason why you need to shout your depression from the rooftops. It all depends on your personal comfort level. While some teens (and celebrities, such as Selena Gomez, a huge advocate of Dialectical Behavior Therapy) may feel comfortable telling others they’re clinically depressed, others may cringe at the thought of random peers and extended family finding out.

And though you shouldn’t feel ashamed about your depression, you definitely can choose to keep it private if you wish. Though many adolescents find that telling a close friend about their depression usually helps, because they can receive emotional support, you don’t have to tell everyone in your social circle.

Similarly, if you do not want your mom telling Great-Aunt Shelly, Cousin Barry, and everyone in your extended family about your depression, simply ask her to keep it private.

You decide who to share the news with. If you don’t feel someone will be supportive when they find out, feel free to keep it to yourself.

In a Nutshell

Let’s close with a summary of two points we covered in this article:

  1. You should not feel ashamed about your depression. Depression is one of the most common chronic diseases on this planet.
  2. Besides essential people who need to know, you don’t need to share the details of your depression with others. Of course, the initial disclosure of depression symptoms to your parents and/or a mental health professional (such as a school counselor) is necessary so that these people can help you receive professional treatment. But choosing to share your mental health condition with anyone else is a personal decision.

That’s it!

Our Behavioral Health Content Team

We are an expert team of behavioral health professionals who are united in our commitment to adolescent recovery and well-being.

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