Because many with depression withdraw or succumb to the desire to isolate themselves, a new hashtag has taken off on Twitter to help people feel less alone. Users are sharing emotionally-raw stories about their own struggles with depression using the hashtag #MyDepressionLooksLike, helping others with the same issues feel less alone.
The National Institute of Mental Health has estimated that 15.7 million Americans suffered a depressive episode in 2014. Yet, despite this staggering number, many who face this mental disorder withdraw and keep silent, especially as the stigma surrounding mental disorders continues.
Mary Alvord, a psychologist with her own practice in Maryland has stated that she feels that social media can be a powerful tool, especially for teens and young adults who feel isolated. Trending Twitter hashtags, however trivial they may seem, can actually help users connect with one another and see first-hand that they are not the only ones suffering.
“For the most part the message, my message to teens [in treatment] is you’re not alone. I think social media platforms, while they can certainly be used in a negative way, they also have the potential to really help.”
Alvord also spoke about the reality of those living with depression and the fact that many people around them are not really aware of the daily struggles, or what a depressed person actually looks like. They may assume a depressed person is sad all of the time, but Alvord says that this isn’t always the case. A depressed person can also exhibit signs of anger, as well as other symptoms like withdrawing and no longer wanting to participate in activities they once enjoyed.
Some users shared their powerful stories in the 140 Twitter character limit. These included:
User @TinaDayton: “#MyDepressionLooksLike hiding it because of the social stigma and worrying I’ll embarrass those I care about.”
User @TRYVNS: “
#MyDepressionLooksLike trying to make everyone around me happy while feeling like I don’t deserve to be.”
User @aliciaaadani: “#mydepressionlookslike not being able to get out of bed due to emotional exhaustion some days while outsiders think you’re just simply lazy.”