9 Depression Myths
Get the Facts About Depression
Although depression affects over ten percent of the population, there are still many misconceptions and myths about it. Prejudices arise against people who suffer from depression because of the stigma attached to mental disorders. In order to conquer depression, it’s important to be educated about certain truths regarding the disease.
The following are some of the common myths about depression, and the facts that really lie behind them.
“Depression Isn’t a Real Illness”
Many people mistakenly believe that depression is defined as a weakness of character or mere sadness. But depression is a complex disorder that has psychological, social, and biological origins. Depression is a mental illness that can be treated in multiple ways, including medication and psychotherapy, and it should not be considered normal unhappiness or simply ignored.
“Antidepressants Can Always Cure Depression”
Luckily, depression is a treatable disorder, but antidepressants alone are not typically enough. While these drugs have the ability to alter brain chemistry and fix deep-rooted biological problems, the treatment for depression may also include psychotherapy.
The solution to depression is not as easy as popping a pill, which may take as long as six weeks to kick in. Talk-therapy along with medication is often added to the treatment process.
“You Can ‘Snap Out’ of It”
Depression is a serious health condition, and no one chooses to be depressed. People mistakenly think that depression is merely a result of a person wallowing in their grief or sadness and can be cured by thinking positively and making a change in ones attitude. Depression is not a sign of weakness, laziness, or self-pity. It is a medical condition, arising from errors in brain chemistry, function, and structure due to environmental or biological factors.
“It Happens Because of a Sad Situation”
Depression is more than the occasional sad thought or unhappiness due to a death, breakup, or disappointment; although these events can lead to depression. Everyone experiences highs and lows in their lifetimes, but depression doesn’t always happen due to a specific negative event.
Depression is marked by unexplained periods of hopelessness, sadness, lethargy, and suicidal tendencies. These episodes last for prolonged periods and can come suddenly and inexplicably, even when things in life appear positive.
“If Your Parents Have It, So Will You”
Although there has been research to suggest that depression is hereditary, recent studies have called into question how significant genetics really is in determining your risk. While having a grandparent or parent with the disease does increase your risk, this is only a marginal increase.
It’s wise to be wary of your risk factors, but by no means does a parent with depression guarantee that you will suffer from it as well.
“Antidepressants Will Change Your Personality”
Antidepressants work by changing brain chemistry and alleviating mood disorders. The thought of altering your brain chemistry can seem scary, but antidepressants are designed to change only certain chemicals in the brain.
Antidepressants affect the symptoms of depression, and do not actually change your personality. In fact, most people who suffer from depression describe it as an alteration in their normal mood. Most people who take antidepressants finally begin to feel like themselves again, rather than feeling like a different person.
“You’ll Have to Be on Antidepressants Forever”
Antidepressants work as a long-term solution for people with depression. The length of time for treatment varies from person to person based on the severity of the disorder and the specific treatments prescribed.
Many people with depression don’t have to be on medication for the rest of their lives. That’s why psychotherapy is often suggested as a treatment of choice along with medication. With therapy a depressed person learns new and healthy ways of coping, with the goal of eliminating the need for medication.
“Depression Only Affects Women”
Although women reportedly suffer from depression twice as much as men, depression does affect men as well. In fact, men have a higher successful suicide rate than women do. Because certain cultures discourage men from discussing their feelings, asking for help, or showing weakness, people mistakenly believe that depression is a disease only affecting women.
“Talking About It Only Makes It Worse”
It’s a common misconception that discussing depression merely reinforces destructive feelings and keeps a person focused on the negative. However, being alone with your thoughts is much more harmful. Having a supportive, reliable, and non-judgmental listener is critical in the treatment of depression.
Just the Facts
Depression is not only a serious illness, it is also one shrouded in misconceptions. A major roadblock that keeps people from getting help are the myths around therapy and medication, two of the most common ways to treat depression. There are more therapy options than those two, though. Other therapies include:
- alternative therapies
- lifestyle changes
- medical procedures
- combination therapy