The Land of Opportunity, The Land of Freedom, and The Land of Milk and Honey are all common nicknames for the United States of America; however this promising nation of 313.9 million people  is also a nation with one of the highest rates of major depressive disorder in the world . As many as 1 in 10 people in the United States suffer from depression , yet not much is being done to eradicate the stigma that surrounds this illness.
So what is depression? It’s much more than the context we are used to hearing it in and goes far beyond just being sad or upset. There are many different types of depression, but the most common symptoms of depression are a sudden loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, thoughts of suicide, and prolonged feelings of desolation, hopelessness, and worthlessness . The effects of depression do not end with its symptoms, and in many states there are strong correlations between rates of depression and rates of obesity, heart disease, stroke, sleeping disorders, lack of education, and less access to medical insurance .
60-80% of all cases of depression can easily be treated with brief psychotherapy and antidepressants. But the worst part is that over 80% of the people who suffer from symptoms of depression are not even receiving treatment for it ! You may be wondering why this is. Many times it is because of the label they are given by society; the stigma surrounding this illness. The unfortunate reality is that this stigma, this disgrace associated with a particular aspect of a one’s very being is far too prevalent in today’s society. Those who suffer from clinical depression, have to deal not only with the hardships associated with their ailment, but also the stigma and labels given to them by an ignorant society. For those who suffer from depression and the stigma associated with it, although they are living in this world with 7 billion other human beings, they feel absolutely alone and therefore suffer alone. Many times people tend to disregard those who may be suffering from clinical depression as just “a negative person” and because such a stigma exists towards, those who are actually suffering from it, avoid seeking the help they need in order to avoid being associated with these labels.
This stigma becomes a very heavy burden on the individual, and in many cases pushes a person to avoid treating their ailment— either through medication, or through therapy– altogether. To those who suffer from depression, and to the society at large, I urge you to take courage in this Home of the Brave, maintain a positive outlook, and eradicate these stigmas once and for all.
 “Population (Total) Data | Table.” The World Bank. The World Bank Group, n.d. Web. 6 Feb 2014. <http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL>.  “Unhappiness by the Numbers.” Healthline. Healthline, n.d. Web. 6 Feb 2014. <http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic>.  “Depression and College Students.” NIMH. National Institutes of Health, n.d. Web. 6 Feb 2014. <http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-and-college-students/index.shtml>.  Image: 2012. Graphic. BioQuick NewsWeb. 18 Feb 2014. <http://www.bioquicknews.com/node/885>.