How to Stop Feeling Embarrassed About Your Depression

A woman looking sadly out the window

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Coping with the symptoms of depression can be challenging at any time. It can be particularly difficult if you were also struggling with feelings of embarrassment, shame, or guilt related to your condition.

There are many reasons why people might experience embarrassment about their depression. They may feel bad that their depression makes it more difficult to do daily tasks. Or they might feel shame about their condition due to the stigma surrounding mental illness.

No matter the cause, there are things that you can do to help reduce or eliminate these feelings of embarrassment. 

Remember That Others Understand

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 7.1% of adults in the U.S. experience at least one episode of depression each year. This is equivalent to around 17.3 million adults in the United States.

The high prevalence rate of depression means that there are many people going through a similar experience right now. Everyone experiences depression differently, but other people may recognize how you are feeling and empathize with your struggles.

There are also many others who have experienced depression at some point in their lives. Research suggests that around 20% of all people will have at least one episode of depression during their lifetime.

Depression can be isolating, but it’s important to remember that it’s not unusual and that you are not alone in how you are feeling.

Reconsider Your Beliefs About Depression

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of stigma surrounding mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and other disorders. One way that you can reduce feelings of embarrassment or shame about your condition is to reconsider some of your beliefs about depression.

For example, people sometimes believe that depression is a choice or something that they can simply think their way out of. This ignores the underlying causes of depression and trivializes the very real nature of the condition.

One way that you can do this is by learning more about depression itself. Exploring informative resources that are aimed at reducing stigma can help you learn more about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for depressive disorders.

Find Someone to Talk To

It’s understandable that you might not want to tell everyone you know that you are feeling depressed. It’s a sensitive issue and, like other health conditions, it’s something you may want to keep private.

But this doesn’t mean you need to keep it a secret under lock and key. In fact, research has found that having social support can protect against symptoms of depression.

How much you decide to share depends on your personal comfort level, but having someone to talk to is important. A confidant who can offer support might include:

  • A friend
  • A family member
  • A co-worker
  • Your partner
  • A clergy member
  • An online friend
  • A mental health professional

If you feel like you need someone to talk to but aren’t sure who to share with, consider reaching out to a depression helpline. You can talk to a trained counselor who can listen, offer advice, give you helpful information, and connect you with treatment options in your area.

Show Yourself Compassion

We are often much harder on ourselves than we are on family, friends, or strangers. If you berate yourself about your depression, try to remember to be kind. How would you respond if someone else was experiencing the same thing?

The nature of depression can make self-compassion much more difficult. The negative thoughts, low mood, fatigue, and lack of motivation mean that self-care is simply not a top priority. 

Even though it’s hard, acknowledge that you are struggling. Give yourself the time and space to heal without the burden of excessively high expectations. Celebrate your victories each day, no matter how small they might seem.

Understand Depression Doesn’t Need a Reason

One common misconception that people have is that a person must have a “reason” to be depressed. While this is particularly common among people who have never experienced depression, you might find yourself thinking along similar lines. You might fear that others will look at you and think that you have a great life—so why on earth would you be depressed?

For someone who has a home, family, friends, work, and hobbies, they may not only feel that they have no reason to feel the way they do, they may even feel that they have no right to be depressed. After all, there are people who seem to have it much worse.

But there is not a hierarchy of pain. Comparing your feelings or life to someone else’s isn’t helpful. 

The reality is that anyone can experience depression. It doesn’t matter how successful a person is, how popular they are, or how much money they have. It doesn’t require a hard life, stress, trauma, or difficult relationships.

Instead of trying to find reasons to justify your symptoms, focus on learning more about the causes of depression. Genetic predisposition, brain structure, and brain chemistry are all non-modifiable risk factors that can contribute to the onset of depression.

Remember That You Deserve Help

Feelings of embarrassment about your depression can make it more difficult to get the help that you need.

You might not seek treatment because:

  • You think that other people won’t understand
  • You fear being judged
  • You don’t want people to find out you feel depressed
  • You feel like your symptoms aren’t “bad” enough
  • You think you don’t deserve help 

What you should know is this—everyone deserves help. While you may have tried many methods to manage your symptoms on your own, talking to your doctor about how you are feeling can help you get the treatment you need to start feeling better.

If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

A Word From Verywell

It’s important to remember that feeling shame, guilt, and embarrassment are not uncommon. While it may take time, reminding yourself that your feelings are valid is important. Acknowledge these emotions, then start taking small steps towards feeling better about how you think and feel about your mental health.

Learning more about depression, seeking professional treatment, and taking care of yourself are important steps toward feeling less uneasy and self-conscious about your condition.

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