“What are you so depressed about?”

Anyone who’s ever suffered from depression has probably heard this question at least once in their lives. It’s often spoken not by a mean-spirited stranger, but an honestly caring friend or family member who simply doesn’t understand your continued blue mood. Which makes it all the more harder a question to answer.

If someone who’s suffering from depression knew the answer to the question, the question might be moot. But the hardship with depression, like with any mental disorder, is that it’s hard to explain to someone who’s never been through it.

“What are you so depressed about?”

The answer isn’t easy to pinpoint:

“Well, nothing in particular. Everything. My life, where it’s going, how I can’t seem to do anything. How I have no energy, morning, noon or night. How my medications don’t always seem to help as much as I would like them to. The terrible side effects. Not wanting sex, even though my significant other does. It’s not one single thing. It’s nothing — I have everything, yet I’m still unhappy. If I knew, don’t you think I’d be less down about it? I don’t know.

I don’t know.”

Depression doesn’t come packaged in a nice, neat little box that you can just take out and put away at will. In fact, one of the best things a person could learn about depression is that if “will” had anything to do with it, nobody would ever be depressed. It’s not about willpower. It’s not about not wanting to be depressed. It’s not about just thinking positive thoughts and feeling better.

It’s about feeling out of control, and not really caring. It’s about feeling down for no reason, and still, not really caring. It’s about watching parts of your life crash down around you, and still, not caring.

“What are you so depressed about?”

“You wouldn’t understand. There’s no answer I could share that would explain it to your satisfaction.”

Depression isn’t being upset about not getting a promotion, or missing a favorite TV show. Depression is a longer-lasting feeling that doesn’t go away even though you have “nothing” to be depressed about. Depression’s cause isn’t always known, or even knowable.

People who have depression don’t ask for it, and they didn’t do something to deserve it. A person with depression is an ordinary person, just you and I, who happens to be grappling with a kind of disorder similar to someone who deals with diabetes or even something more life-threatening, like cancer. They didn’t ask for those things, it just happens.

So please, don’t ask “What are you so depressed about?” It’s not an easy question to answer for someone who has depression, and even if they have an answer, it’s probably not the answer you want to hear.



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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Aug 2007
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2007). What Are You So Depressed About?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 22, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2007/08/23/what-are-you-so-depressed-about/


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