Depression is not beautiful. Self-harm is not beautiful. Suicide is not beautiful.
Depression is a long struggle. Self-harm hurts the individual. Suicide is final and affects surviving loved ones forever.
Depression, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association, is a serious medical illness that negatively affects how an individual feels, thinks and acts. There are several forms of depressive disorders. Major Depression has severe symptoms that interfere with one’s ability to work, sleep, eat and enjoy life. Persistent Depressive Disorder is similar, but lasts for at least two years. Psychotic Depression occurs when a person has disturbing delusions or hallucinations.
There is no underlying beauty to depression. There is no poetic meaning to depression; depression is not “I’m drowning, but everyone else is breathing.” Depression should not be glorified or idolized. There is nothing artistic about having a disorder that affects the way an individual lives. There is nothing beautiful about a serious disorder that has taken lives. According to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, or S.A.V.E., depression affects 20-25% of Americans in any year, and there is one death by suicide in the United States every 13 minutes.
Many social media sites cultivate the unsettling idea of beautiful sadness. It is easy to take a picture, put a black and white filter on it and attach a dark, brooding quote of self-pity. Anybody can do that, and it seems that a lot of teenagers have. Posts on Tumblr, a social networking site, often glorify depression, as well as other disorders, such as bulimia and eating disorders. “Skip dinner, wake up thinner” and “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” has been a trend that encourages anorexia and eating disorders. Quotes like “It’s okay for you to hurt me, but not for me to hurt myself?” and dozens of others can be found on Tumblr. All these blogs share the same, distorted illusion of depression and serious disorders. With these kinds of posts – although unaware – many teenagers are actually encouraging self-harm, self-medication, mental disorders and even suicide.
“Social Media is starting to redefine depression,” says Greg Palatto, the psychologist at Charter Oak High School. “The hashtags, the shared FB posts, black and white pictures of scars on Instagram–all make it common.” Those that see it as a trend may also feel sad, maybe not depressed, but it blurs the line for all those clicking on a page as to what depression is and is not.” Clinical depression meets certain criteria and is not just being sad or feeling ‘depressed’ in the causal slang people use. Depression does not occur for two weeks after one has been dumped or something sad happened. Clinical depression lasts for months and affects every aspect of life.
“By reblogging such pictures and quotes, you are promoting and reinforcing unhealthy illusions of depression,” Mr. Palatto said. “By glorifying this distorted view of depression, we are normalizing it, which is dangerous.” He explained that for someone who suffers from depression, having daily pain and suffering displayed and glamorized can be belittling. It implies that their pain and emotions are not real. Romanticizing depression invalidates those who suffer from it.
Depression is not artfully smeared mascara or cigarette boxes with Sharpie quotes like “You’re going to die anyways.” Depression is not aesthetic. Depression is not glamorous. Depression is not a trend.
Depression is not beautiful.