Use Positive Language to Describe Your Depression Diagnosis

June 19, 2014 Erin Schulthies

I love language. I believe the words we choose shape our minds and our world. This is why I choose to say, "I have depression" instead of saying, "I'm depressed." My depression diagnosis is a part of me, but it isn't all of me. Using positive language to describe my illness helps me manage my illness.

At times, I definitely feel like I am a walking pit of doom and gloom. I feel so depressed that I literally can't believe I'll ever feel anything good ever again. I wonder, why live when I feel like dying? No feeling ever lasts forever, though. If I wait it out, usually a friend will text me or I'll see a new recipe I want to try. The world reminds me that there is more to me than my depression.

Depressed Feelings Aren't Your Only Feelings

Maybe you sometimes feel that depression keeps you stuck in negative feelings all the time. Fortunately, feelings always change. Feelings aren't permanent facts.

When I choose to think that I have depression instead of simply being depressed, it creates a little space between me and my illness. It gives me power, which helps me calm down and get perspective. If I try that and still feel overwhelmed, I play a little word game.

I list all the things I have that don't define me as a person. For example, I have black hair, but I am not black hair. I have headaches, but I am not a headache. I have debt, but I am not debt.

You Are Not Your Depression Diagnosis

I also have more than one diagnosis of mental illness. In addition to having depression, I have social anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. I have had eating disorders and I have self-harmed in the past through self-injury and suicide attempts. All of those diagnoses and problems are a part of my life and my history, but they do not define me as a whole person.

[caption id="attachment_2850" align="alignright" width="275" caption="Art by Erin Schulthies"]Choosing to say, I have depression, instead of, I'm depressed, can help you feel in control and positive about your depression diagnosis.[/caption]

If you have a hard time seeing yourself outside of your depression, ask a friend to describe what they see in you besides your diagnosis. Honor their positive opinions of you, even if you can't see those same good things in yourself.

I used to argue against compliments from others since I couldn't see good things in myself. Now I realize that I'm not always right. Other people have opinions too, and they are often much kinder and realistic that our own biased opinions of ourselves.

Next time you tell someone about your diagnosis of depression, make sure you emphasize the diagnosis by saying, "I have depression" instead of, "I'm depressed." Be aware of how that simple change in language can change how you feel for the better. It works!

You can also find Erin Schulthies on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and her blog, Daisies and Bruises: The Art of Living with Depression.

APA Reference
Schulthies, E. (2014, June 19). Use Positive Language to Describe Your Depression Diagnosis, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Erin Schulthies

leo mackey
June, 25 2014 at 11:14 am

i have all those symptoms mentioned above including the suicide attempts i always see the worst in myself i alway hate myself i find it hard to see that their is any good in me

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Erin Schulthies
June, 25 2014 at 12:43 pm

Hi Leo, thanks for your comment. I used to hate myself all the time too but I had to get a bit creative before I could believe anything good about myself. At first I just started to think about how I'm a person just like any other person. I used to be a big Law and Order fan and I'd say, "Okay, even the worst criminals on this tv show have rights! They get to have a lawyer. Someone defends them!" I just listed as many things as I could that proved that I counted as a person. Like the right to vote or pay taxes or whatever. I had to start really low and really small but now I can see that my thoughts about my worth can be pretty skewed at times. Hating myself wasn't making me a better person. So don't give up on your ability to change or even like yourself a little. It takes time and it is possible!

June, 25 2014 at 12:30 pm

The idea of changing language to separate self from illness/disease/disorder is a good one... Another way of saying this can be: "I am currently living with depression (at the moment)", which can indicate that the depression is (a) separate from me, (b) is an uninvited roommate, and (c) temporary and I anticipate that I will not always be living with it.
All the best on the journey...

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Erin Schulthies
June, 25 2014 at 12:44 pm

Hi Neville,
I love your suggestions, especially indicating that depression is temporary, or at least only applies to now. None of us know what the future will bring. Thank you so much for your comment. It's helped me a lot!
Be well. :)

Major Depression
July, 5 2015 at 4:45 am

It's very nice and inspiring post here :)
I'm always get down on the mood fastly, and I always think that I'm not good and always think that people are bored to chat with me..
It's just my imagination or I'm in symtoms of depression? Anyone here can give me answer?

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