11 Myths About Depression

The conversation about “death by suicide” takes center stage globally more frequently than it is being dealt with. Now, more than ever, the world is acknowledging the implications of an undiagnosed and untreated depression. Close to 2 out of 3 people who have committed suicide have shown or had recorded signs of major depression. If you need to battle the stigma that surrounds depression and its origins, a mass-education and multiple sessions on debunking myths and defying stereotypes needs to be put in place.

Some of the most terrifying complications of undiagnosed and untreated depression start with the inherent belief of these myths. It would not be surprising if you or your friends, family, colleagues and even role models suffer from this illness; but, that does not seem enough to ease the struggle in deciphering the facts from fiction when it comes to knowing what you or they are truly going through. The sooner we eradicate the myths behind depression, the sooner depression will be understood by the masses.

Let’s debunk the top myths: 

1. Depression is yet another fancy word for sadness – We have established that sadness is a part of depression while it is not depression by itself. Think of sadness as being fleeting and temporary. You will “get over” sadness sooner than you think. There is no denying sadness comes and goes. The periodic occurrence should not be mistaken with episodes of depression. 

Sadness, by itself, is usually catalyzed by a life experience or powerful memories that are upsetting. A good dose of happy interactions will cure sadness. Depression, on the other hand, will make you feel that happy interactions emphasize the distance between you and others. The sadness that is caused by depression is not the type to disappear rapidly unless treatment is put in place. Make no mistake, sadness is just one of the many negative emotions that accompany depression. 

2. You have depression? You must be a mentally weak person! – More often than not, people suffering from depression 

tend to be branded as being mentally weak. The reasons for this misconception are the kind of symptoms and the effects they have on patients and the people around them. This stigma is one of the main reasons that people with major depression suffer in silence. 

To them, it is better to suffer alone rather than being branded as a mentally weak human being. What everyone needs to understand is that no one chooses to develop a case of depression. It is an illness, and it can very well affect you. In its twisted way, some great resistance is displayed by the person suffering this condition by making an effort to work through it despite feeling lonely and down. If anything, a person suffering from depression should be supported and encouraged to get through their treatment. It takes strength to work your way through depression and people who have done so show more compassion and are able to demonstrate a stronger ability to empathize. 

3. You have not had a traumatic incident in your life. You can’t be depressed! – The key thing to remember here is, what is traumatic to you might not be traumatic to someone else. There is no denying that trauma is one of the most prominent and common triggers of depression. The difference is the biological elements that accompany the trauma. Something as simple as failing a test and moving away from your comfort zone can bring about depression. There are proven cases where there is no external trigger at all. 

4. It is just depression; it is not a real illness – This is one of the most dangerous myths of all. Yes, the symptoms make it difficult to categorize depression as a serious mental condition. According to the Mayo clinic, depression is always accompanied by a physical difference in the brain area. It depends on the neurotransmitters we have touched upon, and also hormonal imbalance plays a significant role in causing and deciding the severity of the illness. The bottom line is plain and simple, and it is one that every individual needs to be aware of – Depression is a real illness, and it requires special and trained treatment. 

5. Oh, it is all in your head! – Yes it is, just not in the way people perceive it to be. While the biological roots start with the brain, emotional trauma is not the only repercussion. The effects spread to all over the body and affect different people differently. 

6. Real men do not get depressed! – Yes, statistically, women are twice as prone to depression when compared to men. However, that does not mean men can’t or shouldn’t get depressed. There is no case of “shouldn’t” here. It is very common to hear the phrase “Be a man!” being used to denote a lack of physical or mental strength. Depression is beyond physical and mental strength, so much so that the effects of depression are both physical and mental. This myth makes it difficult for men to open up about their depression, which in turn leads to complications with diagnosis. This is also a common reason for substance abuse and developing unhealthy addictions and can even cause suicide attempts. 

7. Talking about it only makes it worse – Depression has been treated with kid gloves for such a long time that the first instinct of anyone who undergoes the illness is not to talk about it. This is not something that can be willed away or something that will heal over time. If this stigma surrounding this disorder is abandoned, this leaves room for people to discuss their problems. More than anything, it will prevent others from adding fuel to the fire by reinforcing those negative and destructive feelings. 

8. All you need is an anti-depressant! – Partially true! It is the untrue half that causes problems. The manifestation of depression is not the same in every person. Antidepressants are prescribed by doctors as they deem fit. This does not imply that an antidepressant can cure your sadness. Doctors often prescribe therapy along with medications and the medications don’t always have to be anti-depressants. 

9. You are now stuck with medications for life! – There are very few illnesses that require medication for life. Depression is certainly not one of them. Medication is always very closely monitored and is usually phased out with a plan to stop the medications at one point. As has been mentioned already, medications are not the only form of treatment for depression. They are accompanied by therapy too. 

10. You will be perpetually unhappy if you are depressed! – It is not true that people suffering from depression are depressed 100% of the time. Even a depressed person has good days and bad ones. The key lies in increasing the number of good days through effective and conscious treatment. You can’t simply rule out depression, because you see social media pictures of people laughing and having a good time. Some people are really good at hiding their feelings and battling through their problems. Remember the silver lining we talked about? 

11. Depression is a life sentence to misery! – Now that is a bit harsh, isn’t it? Overcoming depression is possible. There are no two ways around that fact. It boils down to recognizing it, treating it and making an effort to keep it at bay. The more educated and open we are about depression, the better off we will all be.

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