Wednesday 9 December 2020

How to Cope When People Invalidate Your Depression

By Kate Adermann

Depression is a common mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness, loneliness, and a general loss of interest. This mental health condition may affect how a person thinks, feels, and behaves, as well as causing a variety of physical and emotional issues. With that being said, dealing with depression is extremely difficult, especially when you are trying to keep it together for your friends and family. But, what happens when people invalidate your depression? Unfortunately, it’s all too common for outside individuals to be unable to understand the true nature of another person’s depression.

You may have been told, “You’re too sensitive,” or, “You are just overreacting, get over it!” Hearing statements like these while attempting to cope with the symptoms of your depression only adds to the loneliness and sadness that you already deal with. When people invalidate your depression, it is referred to as psychological invalidation. This behavior is actually extremely mentally and emotionally damaging, as it makes people feel as if their internal experience is not important. However, there are ways to cope when people invalidate your depression. Let’s take a look at healthy coping mechanisms for psychological invalidation.

What Is Depression and How Is It Valid?

Depression, or major depressive disorder, is a real mental health condition that affects many people across the world. Being one of the most common mood disorders, the term “depression” is thrown around a lot. As a result, the loose use of this word may contribute to the misconceptions society has placed upon depression, and the people it affects. For example, it is common for people to say they are feeling depressed, even when they are just dealing with everyday sadness. This makes it hard for individuals - who have not dealt with depression directly - to understand the true struggles of the condition.

However, depression is not equal to everyday sadness. In all actuality, depression is an all-consuming mental health condition that may make it difficult to function in everyday life and activities. Many individuals who struggle with depression deal with symptoms that are severe enough to cause problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities, or relationships with others. Keeping this in mind, depression is a valid condition that is not easily “ignored” or “gotten over”. Because of this, the invalidation of one’s depression can cause feelings of worthlessness, despair, being misunderstood, and even make people feel as if they are not cared about or taken seriously.

It’s important to be prepared for psychological invalidation. In doing so, you will be able to cope healthily without worrying about what other people think.

Coping With Invalidation

When someone invalidates your depression, they are performing a form of psychological invalidation. By definition, psychological invalidation is the act of rejecting, dismissing, or minimizing someone else’s thoughts and feelings. In this case, they are rejecting, dismissing, or minimizing your depression, which can be extremely mentally damaging. You may feel as if they think your experience is wrong, not important, or unacceptable. However, there are ways to cope with this form of emotional abuse.

Speak with your therapist

If you have a diagnosis for depression, chances are that you have a therapist or psychiatrist who knows the validity of your experience. And, if you don’t, dealing with the invalidation of your depression is a good reason to begin attending therapy. Whatever the case may be, speaking with a therapist will help you to work through the negative feelings associated with psychological invalidation. Additionally, your therapist has probably heard some form of psychological invalidation first-hand, making them one of the best people to gain support and advice from.

Learn to validate yourself with affirmations

One of the most important things you can do after being invalidated is to learn how to become validated within yourself. Once you are able to do this, the opinions of others may not matter as much. To begin validating yourself, start utilizing positive affirmations. For example, you could utilize affirmations such as, “My depression is valid and my feelings matter”, “I will be compassionate with myself and disregard the negative opinions of others”, and “I choose to be around people who are supportive of my growth”.

Have a conversation with your friends or family

If you are close with the person who has invalidated your depression, consider having a conversation with them. Oftentimes, this type of invalidation comes from a place of misunderstanding. Oddly enough, sometimes people think they are helping by saying things such as, “It’s not that bad, I’m sure you will be fine soon.” While this is the opposite of helpful for an individual with clinical depression, your friends or loved ones may not be aware of this.

If you feel comfortable enough, consider talking to them about your depression. Explain the science behind depression, how it affects people, and what recovery may look like. Additionally, it may be easiest to provide them with resources about depression. In doing so, you may educate them on depression and cause them to rethink their statements.

Join a depression support group

Lastly, when you have been dealing with people invalidating your depression, it may be wise to join a support group. Depression support groups are meetings where individuals who are struggling with depression get together to provide support and a place to vent. Within one of these groups, you could express the psychological invalidation you have been dealing with, see that you are not alone, and obtain helpful tips for coping. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to meet other people who are trying to recover from depression as well, providing you with mutually supportive friendships with people who understand.

About the Author

Kate Adermann is a passionate writer from Memphis, TN. She is in recovery from alcoholism, a mental health advocate, and a dog enthusiast.


Main photo by Ben White on Unsplash


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