Gender Stereotypes and Depression
Gender stereotypes often damage many people. While everyone is unique, with an individualized genetic makeup, physical and psychological characteristics and experiences, society often demands that people fit into preconceived standards of what is acceptable for a male or a female.
How Stereotypes Affect People
Many people fit society’s definition of “normal” and go through life quite happily doing more or less what is expected of them. Men who are good at sports and work at traditionally masculine jobs and women who are pretty and make good wives and homemakers typically receive a tremendous amount of validation from society at large, whether they are aware of it or not. However, many of these people cannot understand why some people can’t be happy and conform to societal norms. But the fact is that there is a huge variety in the human experience, and many people simply do not fit into preconceived molds.
People who are gay, men who are sensitive, women who are ambitious and an endless assortment of diverse people may find living extremely difficult in a society that does not value their individuality. Being constantly at odds with one’s society can produce a tremendous amount of stress and conflict. Being different often results in continuous pressure from all sides to change and conform. Even parents and teachers who usually support individuality usually only add to the pressure. A person in this circumstance usually lacks encouragement to value himself as an individual. The message they receive is to conform, so the self-esteem of those who are different is likely to be low.
People who are unique may very well have talents, gifts and abilities of which even they are unaware: because all their energy is spent either trying to conform or trying to figure out why they can’t, they may overlook their individual abilities. Rather than developing their unique gifts, they spend their lives trying to be someone they are not or apologizing for being themselves. It is likely that they will become isolated and depressed, and all their potential will go forever unrealized. Even if they never become self-aware they are likely to have an inkling that they did not become what they could have. This chronic, nagging feeling can produce a profound sense of regret and lead to depression that causes substance abuse, sex addiction, self-mutilation or suicide.
Treatment for Depression
Untreated depression can destroy a person mentally and physically as surely as can any other disease. Fortunately, depression can be treated successfully. With therapy, people can learn to accept, appreciate and love themselves for who they are, and not denigrate themselves for who they are not. If you would like help finding treatment for depression as it relates to gender stereotypes, or if you have any questions about treatment, call our toll-free helpline today. Counselors are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you may have and to help you find the treatment you need.