What do a 45-year-old professor, several well-educated parents, a retired psychotherapist, a concerned husband, and a college student all have in common? These are people suffering–or intimately connected to someone suffering–from clinical depression who didn’t know it.
How, in this day and age, with so much information available, is it possible that depression can still go undiagnosed and therefore untreated? Perhaps this is part of the reason why the blog “Depression Part Two” on Hyperbole and a Half just went viral (besides how extraordinarily creative it is). Here are some reasons why smart people can miss the signs of depression:
1. Depression can creep up on you.
Not all depression is so severe that you can’t stop crying or get out of bed. For many people, the feelings of sadness manifest as a growing disinterest in life’s activities. What used to be fun or interesting seems unimportant or shallow. You don’t feel like going to your friend’s birthday party so you make up an excuse. You feel bored by the books or TV shows that used to appeal to you. You don’t notice how, little by little, you are pulling back from others, spending more time alone, locked in your room.
2. Depression seems to be a logical response to life’s challenges.
Since depression often worsens or can be triggered by loss or stress, you figure that you are responding appropriately to what is indeed a painful time in your life. You may have broken up with a boyfriend, had difficulties at work, done poorly on a school assignment, or moved away from a supportive environment. When you don’t snap out of it, even when your life circumstances appear to get better, you don’t realize that your negative mood state has persisted for months or even years.
3. Some depression manifests as extraordinary irritability rather than sadness.
One of the most commonly misunderstood or overlooked manifestations of depression is hypersensitivity or irritability. People around you tell you that you are constantly cranky. You seem …