Should you just “suck it up” when you’re depressed?

According to Johns Hopkins, nearly 10% of adults will suffer from a depressive illness yearly. This disorder affects millions and is not something sheer willpower will get you through. See what these depression experts have to say in response to someone who thinks you can just suck it up and choose to be happy.

Krystal Dreisbach

Krystal Dreisbach

Krystal Dreisbach is a licensed therapist and life coach in Southern California. Know her more at

It is Impossible to Suck it up

Many people equate depressed mood with simply feeling sad, which leads so many to make these kinds of comments. People don’t realize that clinical depression changes brain chemistry over time, causing the brain to experience less of those feel-good hormones, such as serotonin. Furthermore, not only is brain chemistry changed, but brain structure can also be impacted.

To make a long story short, the more time an individual spends feeling sad, the more they grow neural networks in their brain that relate to that sadness. As that neural network grows, so does its impact on the brain. Eventually, depression is born within the individual and treatment is needed.

So, when someone tells a depressed individual to just “suck it up” or to simply “just stop being sad and be happy,” it’s not helpful. Individuals with clinical depression literally can’t just “suck it up.” Their brain chemistry and structure have been altered, and appropriate treatment is recommended.

Being Told This Can Lead to Deeper Depression

[For depressed individuals,] the body experiences less of the chemicals and hormones in the brain and body responsible for our sense of happiness, serotonin and dopamine, as well as the hormones that give us the energy to be active: adrenalin. Depression is often a chemical imbalance in our body, not something that can be “sucked up.”

Additionally, when people who struggle with depression are told to “suck it up,” they frequently feel increased shame and guilt. This oftentimes creates more harm, leading the person struggling with depression to feel even more depressed because they can’t “just suck it up.”

Angie Berrett

Angie Berrett

Angie Berrett, Registered Nurse, and Advanced Trauma-informed Yoga Instructor is the Owner and Creator of the Angie Berrett Movement.

Anahid Derbabian

Anahid Derbabian

Anahid Derbabian, MA, LPC, NCC, Licensed Professional Counselor & Coach at Help Me To Heal.

Release Your Judgment, Condescension, and Perfectionism

To suffer from depression is to be frighteningly lost in your darkest hours, feeling pained, hopeless, and numb. So disconnected from yourself and the people, things, and experiences that previously inspired you that even the simple feels like an impossible struggle and an excruciatingly heavy burden.

So, if your family member, friend, colleague, or even you are depressed, allow yourself to release judgment, condescension, perfectionism, and other dark, learned patterns that aren’t you. Connect with that incredible part of yourself to express and display the most incredible kindness, understanding, sensitivity, and compassion possible. Know that you will bless them and truly help them, and you will bring beautiful blessings to you.

You Can’t Fake it Until You Make it With Depression

I have been depressed and have also been around others who are. I know firsthand how useless and hurtful hearing “suck it up” can be.

First, it is important to point out that being depressed is not a choice. I think I need to repeat this because some people do not understand what this means. I repeat: being depressed is not a choice.

A depressed person cannot merely choose to be happy. They can fake a smile, but their internal systems will still be in despair. To reiterate, a depressed person can fake being happy, but they cannot truly choose to be happy and make it honestly so. This makes sense because depression can be seen in the brain, and a person cannot change the workings of their brain in an instant.

Arianna Kaminski

Arianna Kaminski

Arianna Kaminski is an author, podcaster, and photographer at Arianna Kaminski.

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