People always have different ideas, no matter the subject. Thus, stigmas and misconceptions are born. Despite the steady flood of information and studies, there are still a lot of misconceptions regarding depression circulating.
Sure, there’s a greater awareness of mental health problems in the current generation. However, this does not make up for many of the stigmas perpetuated about depression by other generations that did not grow up in a time when information and conversation on the topic were readily available. In this article, we will briefly outline depression and highlight six common myths about it that need to be put to rest for good.
What Is Depression?
Also known as major depressive disorder, depression is a severe mental health illness that needs to be taken seriously. It adversely affects a person’s perception, thinking, and actions.
Here are some mild and severe signs and symptoms of depression:
- Feeling sad all the time
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
- A change in eating habits
- A shift in patterns of sleep
- Loss of energy
- Slowed speech or movements
- Guilty feelings about self-worth
- Difficulty in concentrating and decision-making
- Thoughts of self-harm and death
According to DSM 5, a person must exhibit five of the traits listed above, with at least one of the symptoms being either feeling sad all the time or loss of interest to be considered clinically depressed.
Furthermore, symptoms must persist for at least two weeks with a significant change in the person. On a positive note, this mental health problem is treatable. A person with depression can overcome the disease with proper therapies and support from the people around them.
Next, we’ll dig into six common myths about depression that have created stigmas and prevented many people from seeking the help they need.
6 Myths About Depression That Need to Stop
By debunking myths like these, we can hope to improve the conversation around depression to ensure all people receive the treatment they need.
#1. Depression is not real
I’m sure you may have heard once or twice that depression is a made-up disease by lazy people. Unfortunately, that myth is still circulating today. Some individuals still think that depression is only a case of prolonged sadness, grief, and melancholy.
However, it’s more than that. According to numerous studies conducted by professionals, depression is a brain disease. Depression is thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, even though there is no clear explanation.
Depression is a complex condition with a social, biological, and psychological foundation. Depression also manifests itself physically, not only through emotions and thoughts. Physical indications include loss or weight gain, sleep deprivation, and lack of personal hygiene.
#2. Depression can disappear
Probably, the most hurtful way to treat someone with depression is to think that it can go away quickly, like wishing for a genie. Some would say, ‘Shake it off’ or ‘Snap out of it’ like it’s as easy as flipping a switch. Depression is a medical condition where the brain experiences adverse effects from environmental or biological factors.
In addition, depression requires treatment and support. There are recorded rare cases where some individuals with depression get rid of their illness by themselves. But mostly, patients need the help of a trained professional to guide their recovery.
#3. Depression is a side effect of trauma
In some cases, this may appear as a valid statement. For instance, someone who had a rough divorce. Such events may raise your chance of developing depression. Though it may be a component, it does not necessarily entail that traumatic events cause mental illness.
The problem with depression, as with any other mental condition, cannot be solved or explained the same way for everyone. Often, many factors contribute to triggering depression. Some are as follows:
- Hormonal problems
- Alcohol and drug abuse
In some surprising cases, depression can also occur without any evident cause.
#4. You have depression because you’re weak
A person’s character or personality doesn’t cause depression. Regardless of physical or mental ability, anyone can be affected. Take, for example, some of the most famous personalities who suffered from depression:
- Oscar De La Hoya
- Abraham Lincoln
- Terry Bradshaw
- Judy Collins
Not many would look at the careers and accomplishments of these people and consider them weak. Depression is a medical condition stemming from the brain’s chemical imbalance and not a character flaw.
#5. Depression does not affect children and men
Depression does not discriminate based on gender, race, age, or economic status. It doesn’t have a specific aim in mind. The misconception surrounding depression relating to women only came from social and cultural expectations.
For generations, men were supposed to be stable and not emotional. They were not allowed to cry or show any vulnerability in public. Hence, only a handful of men would ever report their situations.
Children experience depression as well. The challenge is not many parents or guardians are trained to recognize the signs of depression in a child and seek the help necessary. Many parents think their children are only acting out. Some parents are also embarrassed by the prospect of admitting their child needs help, which might reflect poorly on them.
#6. Only the worst cases need medication
Some people don’t believe in the healing ability of medicine when it comes to treating depression. Some even think that antidepressants alter a person’s personality altogether. However, it doesn’t matter if a person is experiencing mild or severe symptoms; they should consider taking medication as a potential treatment option. In most cases, medicine improves and gets rid of signs and symptoms of depression.
Antidepressants only adjust a person’s brain chemistry and are often used in conjunction with therapy sessions to equip the person for the best possible recovery. Additionally, a person does not need to take antidepressants for the rest of their lives. It may be a long-term treatment, but it’s unnecessary to take it permanently.
Depression is a widespread disease affecting millions in our communities every day. Helping to stop the continuation of these myths is one of the best ways we can all take an active role in changing the stigma surrounding depression. Should you or anyone you know need help, contact the nearest mental health specialist in your area or through an accredited site online.