Common Myths About Depression
Let’s face it: Depression is a very common and serious medical illness and a depressive disorder can take a massive toll on a person’s life, from everyday functioning to their ability to be happy.
Did you know that depression is one of the major leading causes behind medical disability in the United States? And that in the United States alone 16.2 million adults have experienced at least one severe depressive episode in the past year?
Despite these shocking statistics, to this date, depression remains a stigma in today’s society and there are countless stereotypes that surround this serious illness. Despite its prevalence and pervasiveness, there are severe misconceptions and wrongly held beliefs about depression that create such a stigma around it. Because it is still often considered a taboo in this time and age, most people who have been diagnosed with depression are too ashamed to admit it. A primary reason for this is also that those who have never experienced depression look at it as a sign of weakness, which means it is time to tackle these fallacies typically associated with this medical condition.
Here are some of the most common myths about depression that seriously need to be debunked.
Myth # 1: Depression Is Not a Real Illness
Often times we hear people saying that depression isn’t an actual illness but is more like a passing phase or a temporary state of the mind. That statement itself couldn’t be any more wrong. It is a serious mood disorder with extreme symptoms that significantly affects how one thinks, feels and acts. It can also adversely affect one’s ability to go about everyday life and handle their daily activities.
There are also serious causes and factors that lead to the onset of depression. Recent research shows that some of these include genetic variations, cell shrinkage in the hippocampus of the brain, and damaged brain wiring in the frontal lobes of the brain.
Myth # 2: Depression Is a State of Constant Sadness
Another commonly held misconception about depression is that depression is just about being sad at all times. While persistent sadness is definitely one of the symptoms of depression, it is just one symptom. There are numerous other signs and indications that point towards depression. These include feelings of hopelessness, loss of energy, loss of appetite, reckless behavior, and so many more.
Helena Plater Zyberk, co-founder of Supportiv which is a support network for people battling with illnesses such as depression, said that depression is not all about sadness. Depressed people can experience a plethora of other emotions including joy.
Myth # 3: Depression Can Only Be Cured Through Medication
People battling with depression are often prescribed medications called antidepressants. While that is one proven way to manage depression, it is not the only way. Research shows that there are several therapy-based approaches that significantly help people control their depression. A very effective and popular approach is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
CBT has been found to be extremely operative in many cases of depression. Therapy typically includes talking one-on-one with a licensed therapist, in other words, a medical professional that will listen to you and then discuss the various treatment options with you that are available. In most cases, a combination of CBT and medication has been found to be particularly effective.
Myth # 4: Only Women Get Depressed
This is one of the most absurd beliefs and misconceptions that is associated with depression. It is true that women experience depression at twice the rate as men, as shown by the National Institute of Mental Health. However, that doesn’t at all suggest that men don’t experience depression. Research shows that roughly 6 million men in the United States deal with depression each year and that men in the U.S. die from suicide at four times the rate as compared to women.
Even the signs and symptoms of depression in men are different than those occurring in women. Some of the common symptoms of depression in men include overeating or a complete lack of appetite, suicidal tendencies, bodily aches, pains and cramps, and loss of interest in pleasurable activities, to name a few.
Myth # 5: Depressed People Can ‘Snap Out Of It’
As insensitive as that sounds, some people often believe that depression is something one can easily snap out of. According to Samantha Waranch, a publicist in Los Angeles, who also has depression, there is nothing worse than people telling others and implying that depression is something that is just in your head and can easily be warded off by replacing sad thoughts with happy thoughts.
What people don’t really realize is that while activities like exercising and going to the gym may help to a certain extent, only those who battle depression every day can truly understand that it is an actual illness. After all, a chemical imbalance in the human brain or body is under no one’s control.
Myth # 6: Depression Always Needs a Trigger
It is true that specific situations and events can actually trigger depression and depressive symptoms. However, it doesn’t always need a trigger. The occurrence of its symptoms can be caused by just not a single event but instead a variety of triggers.
According to J.RaymondDePaulo, a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, stressful life events can lead to discouragement in some people, and depression in others. He further states that people who have a tendency to get depressed from events often have a share of more traumatic life events along with a genetic predisposition as well.
Despite of that, regardless of a precipitating event, depression has distinctive symptoms of its own like insomnia, lack of concentration, lethargy, etc.
It is about time that people understand and realize how serious of a condition depression is and how it is directly tied with the ever-increasing rates of suicide. Then myths and stigma surrounding depression seriously need to be removed for mainstream conciousness if we are to really help all those battling with depression.