Why Can't I Fix My Own Depression? Is Something Wrong with Me?

April 22, 2024 Natasha Tracy

I should be able to fix my own depression -- or at least that's what the world keeps telling me. We have a lot of euphemisms for it: pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, walking it off, turning that frown upside down, and so on. And the Internet is full of New Age gurus (and lay people) claiming to know the secret of how to do it -- just buy my book and wave your depression goodbye. But if everyone says it's possible, why can't I fix my own depression?

Why Do People Tell Me I Can Fix My Own Depression?

There is big money in telling people they can fix their own depressions. You can use that idea to sell books, tinctures, videos, courses, herbs, and a million other things. There are "enterprising" people everywhere who will take advantage of this notion.

Not only that, but if a person has been through something they consider to be depression and have gotten through it, they really want to tell you about it. They fixed their own depression, so you can fix your own depression, too.

This is a cacophony of misinformation and disinformation.

And all of this pressure tends to make people think they can fix their own depression, and if they can't, then something is wrong with them.

What Is the Depression You Can Fix Yourself?

Let's take a look at what is and what isn't depression.

Having a few blue days, temporary sadness due to a life event like a death or divorce, or sadness that doesn't affect your daily, ongoing life -- these things are not clinical depression. They are sadness. They are part of the human experience. They are unpleasant but not destructive. They do not make you suicidal. A person may need time to deal with one of these things. A person may even need help to deal with these things (grief counseling, for example, is common), but they are not a medical condition.*

People experiencing these things might say they're "so depressed," but what they really mean is that they're so sad, upset, overwhelmed, or another descriptor.

Depression, on the other hand, is a mental illness. It has ongoing symptoms that range from appetite and sleep changes and feelings of guilt to suicidality. It impairs daily functioning. It affects jobs and relationships. It can actually cost a person their life. It is a medical condition.

Just from that description, you can see that due to their severity levels, depression and sadness are in different worlds. 

Nonetheless, society often doesn't make this distinction. Everything seems to be categorized as depression, and we are sold the notion that we can fix our own depression.

Is Something Wrong with Me If I Can't Fix My Own Depression?

In short no, nothing is wrong with you. People who have real, clinical, major depression are dealing with a medical illness. Medical illnesses require actual treatment. You get that treatment from a professional. You can't fix a mental illness yourself any more than you can fix another type of illness like cancer.

I understand why anyone, myself included, would feel like they should be able to fix their own depression. That idea is everywhere. But it just isn't reasonable.

So, give yourself a break. There is nothing wrong with you for needing help. Doctors trained for years for just such an occurrence. If you can't fix your own depression, that means one thing: it means you're normal.

* Note that what starts as a life event can lead to clinical depression. Duration and severity differ in these cases.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2024, April 22). Why Can't I Fix My Own Depression? Is Something Wrong with Me?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 21 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

April, 23 2024 at 1:06 am

This post made me break down and cry like a child. But as I read the last line, I felt relieved to know that there is nothing wrong with me just because I cannot fix my own depression.
I cannot thank you enough for writing this piece, Natasha.

April, 23 2024 at 9:41 am

Hi Mahevash,
Thank you for reading and leaving that comment. I wrote this piece because I know what it's like to beat yourself for not being able to do what the world says we should be able to. I want us all to stop doing that.
I'm honored to help where I can.
-- Natasha Tracy

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