If we take a look at how mental health is perceived in society several decades ago, we will see quite an upsetting picture. Admitting that you have a mental disorder was considered a weakness or a flaw. People who were diagnosed with this type of illness easily became targets for laughing, criticizing, harassment, and even exile.
This situation was not changing in any way for quite a lot of time. There was only one way for people suffering from anxiety and depression to live without a public reprimand: Swallow whatever they were feeling and be silent.
Today, the situation is drastically evolving. People with mental issues can openly discuss their problems and share their experiences with others. The stigma is finally breaking down: People are not ashamed of their thoughts and emotions anymore, they are ready to take care of them and discuss them with friends, family, and specialists.
However, destigmatizing mental issues have another extreme: Romanticizing them. Creating new norms is a common trend in the XXI century, but when these norms describe mental issues as character traits, it may be the time to stop. “Depression is quirky,” “anxiety is spicy.” What is worse, the media support it, creating a charming aura around such disorders. It makes them not only attractive but desirable. And that is a problem.
In this article, we focus on how depression is represented in various kinds of media and why it still does no good for people suffering from it.
How depression is portrayed in media
Since it became okay to talk more widely about depression and its influence on people’s lives, it’s no wonder that media of all kinds started paying more attention to them. However, they still do it wrong.
Movies and TV
Visual entertainment has a long history of depicting people with depression. A lot of fictional characters have several signs of depression. Still, their conditions are far from what depression really looks like.
Recently, the industry started taking the question of mental issues more seriously. TV shows like “Shameless,” “This Is Us,” and “Jessica Jones” did a great job at portraying depression more realistically.
However, they still have space for improvement. For example, a lot of fans were not amused by the fact that Thor’s depression in “Avengers: Endgame” was used for joking. Also, the whole plot of “13 reasons why” is based on a revengeful and planned suicide, and such representation of reasons for suicide is absolutely incorrect. It can lead people to misinterpret what is suicide and why it truly happens.
Newspapers and magazines make some success in portraying mental issues adequately. At the same time, some of them are still into making suicides and mental illnesses a sensation. The most prominent case of how you should never talk about suicide in media is Kate Spade’s death that happened in 2018.
This area causes the most damage to people who actually suffer from depression. Despite being a place where people can talk about their struggles, the Internet plays a huge role in making depression glamorous. Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook are flooded with pictures of self-harm scars, broken toys, and sad quotes glorifying this condition. In social media, people tend to call “depression” any minor inconvenience, unpleasant situation, or just low mood.
Why is it problematic?
Because everything that we mentioned above is either oversimplified or not true at all. The tragedy of suffering from depression is shown as something beautiful, aesthetical, and special. Like an extraordinary talent or a unique character feature, depression is thought to put a person in the spotlight and attract additional attention.
Also, some movies make recovering from depression a part of a character’s development and reaching success. It builds up a false stereotype that before succeeding, you should go through the hardship of suffering a mental disorder.
Such a trivial and even reckless approach to depression strengthens the existing misconceptions and makes it hard to take depression seriously. People ignore therapy because they think depression is a part of who they are. In the long run, it can lead to irreparable consequences.
Wrapping it all up
Romanticizing depression or any other mental condition is harmful. What can we do about it? First of all, stop following this trend. Don’t blindly believe anything you see or hear about depression in social media, movies, or news. Secondly, educate yourself. Listen to what people with mental issues say, read relevant articles, check out credible resources on the topic.
Finally, get help if needed. Find a local hotline or a therapist who can provide you with professional help. If your condition is severe, get a consultation with a specialist about a medical treatment or TMS Therapy For Depression can be successful if you’ve already failed medication. Mental health is a complicated mechanism that cannot be described in several tropes. Pay attention and take care of it.