Every day in America, 4 million adolescents and 20 million adults struggle with depression. They share symptoms like hopelessness, worthlessness, sadness, deep fatigue, and no interest in life.

Many of them also feel embarrassed or ashamed about being depressed. These feelings may come from within. For example, you may feel embarrassed that you can’t live up to your responsibilities or turn down invitations to go out with friends.

Embarrassment often arises if you encounter stigma suggesting that depression reflects a personal weakness. The team at MindSet understands how depression infiltrates your life and that facing each day is hard enough without feelings like shame or guilt.

Here, they suggest four strategies for overcoming embarrassment and depression.

1. Understand stigma

Stigma comes from a lack of knowledge and little understanding of depression. People who have never been depressed usually can’t grasp the severity of the condition and its impact on their life.

Many people believe that depression is just like the blues — nothing more than a temporary case of sadness that clears up on its own. And then they don’t understand when your depression doesn’t improve.

Other people’s inability to understand or empathize doesn’t make stigma any easier to endure. However, knowing they just don’t get it may help soften its impact on you.

When stigma leads people to suggest “it’s all in your head,” they don’t realize that depression is in your head because it’s a condition based on neuron activity and brain chemicals (neurotransmitters).

2. Know the role of brain chemicals

Though life events can trigger mood changes, you can also become depressed when everything in your life is going great. That’s because depression is directly related to imbalanced neurotransmitters.

Contrary to what stigma perpetuates, depression is a real biological condition, just like any other disease in your body. We can show its biological basis with an electroencephalogram (EEG). EEGs reveal underperforming nerve activity, which reflects abnormal nerve communication and low neurotransmitter levels.

The stigma surrounding depression may block others from accepting it as a medical condition. They may still insist you can control it if you have the willpower. But if you know that depression is a medical problem, you may find it easier to let go of embarrassment over having a mental health condition.

3. Don’t listen to others

You probably have at least one friend, family member, or fellow worker that tries to help with misdirected advice. They may say you “don’t have a reason to be depressed” or suggest it’s time to “pick yourself up, think positive thoughts, and move on.”

Realize they’re well-meaning and may not have a clue how to help a friend who’s depressed. Don’t let what they say sink in and fuel shame or embarrassment. Just know that they’re wrong: Depression doesn’t improve without treatment.

4. Seek treatment

Without treatment, depression lasts for months or, in some cases, years. If your depression lasts longer than two weeks, the best thing you can do is seek treatment.

Depression treatment includes medication, therapy, or both. If you give conventional treatments a fair try and still feel depressed, it’s time to consider transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

TMS uses repeated magnetic pulses to stimulate your brain. The pulses go through your scalp to reach a precisely targeted area of underactive neurons. Energy from TMS boosts neuron activity, leading to an increase in neurotransmitters and better nerve communication.

TMS effectively improves depression in most people. It works so well that it’s cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat people whose depression doesn’t respond to conventional treatments.

Don’t wait to seek help for depression. Call MindSet or request an appointment online today.