The Depression Umbrella

If there’s one thing we need to bear in mind – particularly the media – it’s that ‘depression’ is not a byword for any form of mental illness. Depression is not anorexia. Bipolar disorder is not OCD. Paranoid schizophrenia is not GAD.  A person can have both illnesses at once, but they’re not the same thing.

Mental illnesses produce different symptoms, are treated in different ways, and have different causes – yet they all seem to fall under the umbrella of ‘depression’. It would be considered absurd and disrespectful to conflate physical illnesses in this way. You wouldn’t use ‘tuberculosis’ to describe hepatitis or cancer, for example. Tuberculosis, hepatitis and cancer all affect the body, but they’re not the same disease.

We have this strange societal notion that illness of the mind is simplistic. Which is bizarre, as the mind is too complex to fathom itself. In the year 2015, we should all be making the effort to speak in the same language about mental illness as we do about physical illness. If we don’t, stigma will thrive, sufferers won’t seek help for fear of being branded insane, and diagnoses will be slow or non-existent. So remember, always use words responsibly – they’re the most powerful tools for change in our possession.


  1. Aye! In fact, it can get quite dangerous on a personal basis. Bipolar gets confused with depression since the affected are less likely to seek help in the "good" phase. I guess, teenagers are the worst off .... it is so difficult to disentangle the process of growing up and its built-in anxieties from hints at a future diagnosis. I wish schools taught more about health (including mental) and less about medieval battles.

  2. Hi,Samantha,
    Thanks for your nice words.Our brains are designed to be constant,so neural pathways structure from our negative thought patterns, and this,thusly,can have truly injurious effects on us (subsequently the negative effects of stress on our bodies).Creating new pathways is challenging and drawn out,yet feasible.For me,its been about forming positive new propensities and breaking the old,terrible ones.Figuring out how to correct my bended thinking patterns and positively rewire my brain (as it were) has been a key component in my long haul healing.
    Have a nice day.
    ^^Jessica Hall.


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