Depression Isn’t About Willpower

Depression isn’t indulgent or egotistical.

I’ve been hearing this message from a lot of my clients recently, and want to end this conversation right now. When you feel off and depressed, it’s so easy to make yourself wrong. I see so many people criticizing themselves when they feel depressed, as if they are lacking the willpower to just ‘shake it off.’ I get why they feel like that too, given so much of the cultural programming around mood. There are messages everywhere that you’re weak, ungrateful, or self-obsessed if you are suffering with your mental health. It stops people from reaching out or starting a conversation. It creates shame and reduces authenticity.

You are not weak.

You are not ungrateful.

You do not lack willpower.

People with mental health have fought against the stigma by talking about depression as a disease, just like a physical condition like cancer. While at first talking about it as a disease seems to provide an answer, its ultimately an equally disempowering conversation. Regarding depression as a brain disease has not worked in either ending depression or stopping the stigma.

Depression is a combination of mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual imbalances. It is not your fault. It is not a deficiency in willpower. It is largely influenced by the way that we live our lives, and everyone is vulnerable to it.

A conventional doctor looks at it from the biological brain point of view and offers just one treatment—medication. Naturopathic doctors look at it from every angle. Antidepressants are always one option but they are also only the beginning. There is so much we can do to heal.