From Kid Cudi To Selena Gomez: Get Familiar With What Depression Really Looks Like

From Kid Cudi To Selena Gomez: Get Familiar With What Depression Really Looks Like

Black men and their mental health have been a common thread in the media over the last few weeks.

With the increase in the number of African American men and women being killed at the hands of law enforcement officers and other senseless crimes, there is no surprise that so many black men are suffering.

While the number of African Americans being diagnosed with some form of mental disorder has always been on the rise, it was not until recent months that mental health stepped to the forefront once again with the news of rapper Kid Cudi being checked into rehab and, even more recently, rumors that rapper Kanye West had been hospitalized for what many on social media believe to be a mental health emergency. Although rumors have not been confirmed, it has once again brought mental health to the forefront of our daily discussions.

We live in a culture that I’m still not sure I even understand and that makes us believe that we must always suffer in silence. We, as black men and women, are told to suck it up, get over it and, my favorite, pray about it and it’ll go away. All those things may sound good (at least to the people who say it) but there’s a difference between something sounding good and something be detrimental to your health. Telling someone who’s depressed to suck it up, is detrimental.

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Contrary to the stereotypes the media and entertainment industry often display mental illnesses and depression don’t always involve crying for no reason or killing sprees (although some more serious conditions could include these are not always the tell-tale signs).

Sunday night, Selena Gomez, who has been a known advocate for mental health over the last few years, took to the American Music Awards stage to address her own battle with mental health:

"I had to stop. I had everything and I was absolutely broken inside. I kept it all together enough to where I would never let you down but I kept it too much together to where I let myself down. If you are broken you do not have to stay broken."

The night of the awards show was Selena Gomez's first post-rehab appearance. The young starlet was previously admitted to rehab for the first time back in 2014 for anxiety, depression, and other mental issues. Her message was met with much adoration but it also reminded people that there is no way to identify mental illness on the outside.

In light of so many suffering in silence, her speech has opened a much needed dialogue around mental illness and how sometimes even the subtlest symptoms could signify issues in either your mental health or the mental health of those you love.

Read on for more information about the early signs of depression and what to do about it once you've seen it:

Going Off On Any And Everyone For No Reason

We have all had that friend or family member that seems to always be a ticking time bomb. You ask them how their day is going and they get angry and before long, you find yourself in a position where you simply don’t want to be bothered because you’re just not sure how that individual will respond to you.

On the other hand, maybe you’re that person. You’re always ready to go from 0-10 in an instance just in case something decides to pop off. This attitude is often justified in our culture and we often make excuses for those we love who respond in this way but the bottom line is that this behavior comes from a deeper issue. Experiencing irritability, hostility, anger, and feeling “some kind of way” over any sort of appearance of rejection are all common symptoms when depressed. What’s even more shocking to many is that frequent irritability and anger is a red flag for a severe level of depression.

Obsession With Perfection

There are people who are perfectionists and then there are people who are perfect at being a perfectionists. Self-esteem is the common link between perfectionism and depression. Essentially, this is because perfectionists strive to be perfect to fit in and be accepted. Since perfectionists often think that they must be “perfect” to be acceptable both to peers and themselves, when they feel they've failed, it is often to a debiliating result. Having unrealistic expectations not only makes you more susceptible to depression but also opens up the door to low self esteem issues.

Concentration Is Nonexistent

Ever been so overwhelmed by life you can’t concentrate? This is not something that should be ignored. We all have our moments where it would be more entertaining to scroll through Twitter and Instagram than to focus on the tasks at hand, but if you are typically a person who doesn’t struggle with concentration and suddenly can't use your concentration for a significant amount of time you should be on alert. The diminished ability to concentrate is actually an official symptom of depression.

Constantly Insuring Others That “You Will Be Okay” vs. “You Are Okay”

Over the last few years, I have dealt with mental health firsthand in my family. Because of this, I have learned to focus less on what people say and more on what they don’t say. If you find your friend or family member often saying “they will be okay” when you ask how they are doing, you may want to ask a few more qualifying questions. Often times those who are dealing with mental distress don’t want to be a burden on others so they keep their feelings bottled up inside. Simply taking a moment to not just hear but listen could save someone’s life.

[Tweet "Focus less on what people say and more on what they don't say."]

Bottom line, if you’re dealing with depression/mental health issue or know someone who is: DON’T. IGNORE. IT. Don’t just dismiss it with “Oh, they’re crazy girl” or “You know how I am sometimes”.

Instead, learn to know what behavior is typical and normal (not just for them but just for people in general because sometimes typical behavior could just mean there’s been a prolonged unaddressed issue). It’s okay to not be okay, but it’s not okay to judge someone who’s not.

Have you had depression or known someone who does? What were the signs? How did you help them or yourself? Let us know in the comments below!

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