Depression Hurts: You Can Make It Better

By Rebecca Potance (Follow us on LinkedIn)

If you or a loved one suffer from clinical depression, I recommend watching the 2011 film “Melancholia.” The first part of the movie features a recently married woman named Justine at her hilariously dysfunctional wedding reception. She puts on a smile in front of her husband and the guests, but she frequently needs to escape from the crowd to be alone in her misery. She loves her husband and knows that her wedding day should be a happy occasion, but nothing can shake her constant dread. The rest of her immediate family exhibit similarly erratic behavior, particularly Justine’s mother. In my opinion, this is one of the most realistic depictions of a family trying to cope with depression that I have ever seen in a feature film.

Photo by Ángel López on Unsplash

According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, 8% of American adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2020. It probably goes without saying that those numbers went up even higher during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, there are still some misconceptions about depression that prevent people from getting help. First, anyone can experience depression, but some people are more prone to it than others. Sometimes depression develops in response to a particular event such as divorce or job loss, but this is not always the case. Some people, particularly those who have close relatives with a history of depression, can experience depression regardless of their life situation.

When someone is depressed there may not appear to be anything wrong with them. Like Justine in “Melancholia,” many people try to hide their unhappiness by smiling around others. Some people may feel ashamed of their condition and think they can manage it on their own. Furthermore, because hopelessness and fatigue are common symptoms of depression, when someone feels depressed they may lack the motivation or energy to do something about it.

A number of surveys, such as the ALM Mental Health and Substance Abuse Survey, have found that lawyers are up to four times more likely to have depression than the general population. Making matters worse, some legal institutions have been slow to encourage people to seek professional help. Too many organizations would rather replace employees with mental illness than help them get better. The good news is that some people are actively working to de-stigmatize mental illness and offer support to those who need it.

If you are one of the people who wants to help, there are a few things you can do. Educate yourself about the disease so that you can recognize and understand depression. Talking about your own mental health problems can help destigmatize it and encourage others to seek help. Advocate for both organizational policies and state and federal statutes that make it easier for people to seek treatment.

Finally, although the focus of this post is on depression, it is important to remember that people with depression may also have other mental health problems. Anxiety and substance abuse disorder are common co-occurring disorders that people with depression may also need to address.


Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. The essays represent their personal beliefs and not those of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.