Myths about Depression
Myth 1: “Depression is not a real medical illness.” Many people mistakenly believe that depression is defined as a weakness of character or mere sadness. However, 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 should not be considered conventional unhappiness and thus ignored.
Myth 2: “Antidepressants alone 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 the deep-rooted biological problems, the most effective treatment for depression also includes psychotherapy. A combination of talk therapy and medication is usually the most effective method of treatment.”
Myth 3: “You can ‘snap out’ of depression.” 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 his or her grief or sadness and can be cured by thinking positively and making a change in one’s attitude. Depression is not a sign of weakness, laziness, or self-pity. Rather, it is a medical condition, arising from imbalance in brain chemistry, function, and structure due to environmental or biological factors.”
Myth 4: “Depression is a result of a specific situation or sad event.” 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 does not always arise due to a specific negative event. Depression is marked by unexplained periods of hopelessness, sadness, lethargy, and suicidal tendencies. These episodes can last for prolonged periods and arise suddenly even when things in life appear positive.
Myth 5: “If your parents and grandparents have depression, 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 for inheriting depression. While having a grandparent or parent with the disease does increase your risk by ten to fifteen percent, 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.
Myth 6: “If I start taking antidepressants, I will have to take them the rest of my life.” Antidepressants work as one possible solution for people with depression. Although 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. This is why psychotherapy is often suggested as a treatment of choice along with medication: the depressed person learns new and healthy ways of coping, with the goal of eliminating the need for medication.
Myth 7: “Depression only affects women.” Although women reportedly suffer from depression twice as much as men, depression does affect men as well. 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.
Myth 8: “Talking about depression 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 vital in the treatment of depression.
-adapted from 9 Myths of Depression by Eloise Porter
If you are experiencing depression and need help, please call The Refuge Center at 615-771-1155