Depression and Our Ego: Understanding the Connection
Depression is a complex mental disorder that affects around 1 in 6 adults in the United Kingdom. It is mainly characterised by sadness, hopelessness, loneliness and worthlessness that can persist for weeks, months, or even years.
Ego can be defined as a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. When our ego is healthy, it gives us confidence, self-worth, and purpose.
Unhealthy ego can play a significant role in preventing professionals with depression from seeking help.
This is because people with an unhealthy ego often believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness or failure, which can threaten their self-importance and self-worth. All of these thoughts can lead to suicidal thoughts over time.
Around 20% of police officers, over 20% emergency ambulance personnel in the UK exhibit symptoms that align with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The PTSD figure for the security industry almost reached staggering 40% according to the largest study to date carried out by the University of Portsmouth intervieving British security operatives.
“With almost 40 per cent of those surveyed exhibiting symptoms of PTSD, it leaves a very clear message that the issue of mental health is not currently being taken seriously by security managers. There is an emerging picture of a failure by the security industry to address these issues,” says Professor Mark Button, Professor of Criminology in the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth
According to research carried out by Mind, a leading mental health charity, people who were more likely to struggle with their mental health before the pandemic have been most affected during and after the pandemic.
Effects of an unhealthy ego
One way that unhealty ego can stop people from seeking help is through the fear of being judged or stigmatised. People with unhealthy egos may be concerned about how others perceive them and worry that seeking help for depression could harm their reputation or career prospects. They may also believe that admitting to depression or any other mental illness would make them appear less capable, which could damage their self-image and self-esteem.
Moreover, individuals with an unhealthy ego may also believe that they should be able to manage their depression on their own and overcome their struggles alone. They may feel that seeking help is unnecessary or that it would be a sign of weakness. They may also worry that seeking help could make them dependent on others or suggest they cannot cope with the challenges of their profession. They may feel that admitting to depression or seeking help would mean that they are not strong enough or capable enough to handle the demands of their job. This can lead to shame or embarrassment, further contributing to their reluctance to seek help.
Furthermore, people with an unhealthy ego may also be concerned about the impact of seeking help on their professional identity. They may worry that admitting to depression or seeking help could harm their image as strong, competent, and resilient. This can create a conflict between their personal needs and professional identity, making it difficult for them to seek help.
Overall, unhealthy ego can prevent people with depression from seeking help because they believe asking for help is a sign of weakness or failure, creating a fear of being judged or stigmatised, and creating a conflict between personal needs and professional identity.
However, it is essential to remember that seeking help for depression is not a sign of weakness but a courageous step towards healing and recovery.
People with depression should prioritise their mental health and seek the support they need to overcome their struggles.
Dave Thomas is a retired police officer with 25 years of service with Lancashire Constabulary. He worked in response and roads policing as a police constable, in CID and child abuse investigations as a detective constable. He has been creating podcasts to help others since 2016. He said;
“After 25 years in the UK police, I suffered a mental breakdown. Even now I feel weak for admitting that. That is my ego talking though. It was the perfect storm of work, bereavement and an unresolved childhood. Just prior to retirement I wrote a blog that I later turned into a podcast.
My hope is that my experience in the blue light services will assist others to make sense of their own journey” (Linkedin)
Image: Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge (Courtesy of U.S. Embassy London)
In recent years, social media campaigns have been very effective against the stigma and helped people to better understand the symptoms of mental health while raising awareness that help is readily available. The more people talk about mental health, the easier it becomes to seek help.
Image: First Lady Melania Trump and Prince Harry (Courtesy of Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)
In 2016, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry launched Heads Together Campaign to end the stigma around mental health. The campaign enabled mental health charities to work in partnership to drive the national conversation on mental well-being.
According to Brand24, hashtag #mentalhealth was interacted with 15,094,555 times on Twitter last month.
Image: Carol Vorderman MBE and Nadine Dorries Conservative Member of Parliement (Courtesy of UK Government)
There are many public figures which opened up about their mental health in a bid to stamp on the stigma and help people to talk about it.
Carol Vorderman MBE spoke about the debilitating depression she experienced while going through menopause, which led to suicidal thoughts.
The Duke of Cambridge told the charity magazine CALMzine: “We will all go through tough times in our lives, but men especially feel the need to pretend that everything is OK, and that admitting this to their friends will make them appear weak. I can assure you this is actually a sign of strength.”
Image: Ellie Goulding (Courtesy of U.S. Embassy London)
Ellie Goulding spoke about her struggles with anxiety and panic attacks and how getting therapy helped her.
She told Flare magazine: “I was skeptical at first because I’d never had therapy, but not being able to leave the house was so debilitating. And this was when my career was really taking off.
“My surroundings would trigger a panic attack, so I couldn’t go to the studio unless I was lying down in the car with a pillow over my face. I used to beat myself up about it.”
Psychotherapy helps individuals with various mental illnesses, including depression, through talking with a qualified counsellor.
Psychotherapy can help identify the contributors of depression, and control and resolve any symptoms to enable healing and better functioning with improved well-being.
Psychotherapy can help with a wide range of issues such as, but not limited to, difficulties in coping with ordinary life, trauma, medical illness or loss of a loved one, bereavement, breakdown in a relationship, and specific mental disorders such as depression.
There are various organisations for professionals to get confidential help:
For security industry professionals and medics
SIU – Security Rehabilitation Centre https://www.the-siu.org.uk
For serving and retired police officers
Flint House – Police Rehabilitation Centre https://www.flinthouse.co.uk
For armed forces veterans
Combat Stress https://combatstress.org.uk/
Dave Thomas’s podcast can be found here.