Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders, though much about it is misunderstood. There are many myths and misconceptions that contribute to the stigma of depression and make it harder for people to open up about it. This article will examine some common myths and misconceptions about depression and set the record straight.
Depression is all in your head.
Though it is one of the most common mental health disorders, many people still deny depression is a real condition. They believe those affected just need to be more positive, and their depression will go away. The truth is that depression is a significant mental health disorder that affects individuals’ brain chemistry, behavior, and physical health. Most people focus on the emotional side of depression, the feelings of sorrow, hopelessness, and self-doubt. However, depression can also impact sleep, appetite, and energy levels. It can even cause physical pain.
Only women get depressed.
According to the Mayo Clinic, women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression, but men are significantly affected, too. This may partially be because men are often discouraged from talking about their feelings, which may prevent them from seeking help. What lends some credence to this is the fact that men are four times more likely to die from suicide than women, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. If you are a man experiencing depression, you are not alone; seeking treatment for your depression is crucial.
Depression is a sign of weakness.
It does not matter how “strong” someone is. Depression can affect anyone, no matter how physically or mentally strong.
Staying busy will cure depression.
Some people try to stave off their depression by staying busy with hobbies, school, or work. Yes, exercise and doing things you love can help you manage depression, but that won’t “cure” you of it.
Talking about your depression will only make it worse.
If you see signs of depression in your friends or family, you may think they want to be left alone. Talk to them, instead. People experiencing depression often feel very isolated. Talking to them and showing your support can make a huge difference. Showing that you have noticed changes in their mood or behavior and listening without judgment lets them know they are not alone.
Depression is just part of growing up.
Teenagers are moody, and adolescence is a difficult time physically, emotionally, and socially. Some common symptoms of depression resemble those of puberty, such as irritability, oversleeping, and changes in appetite. Some people see depression as just part of puberty, which is not the case.
Adolescence is a time when many young people get diagnosed with a depressive disorder, but depression itself is not part of adolescence.
Antidepressants will change your personality.
Antidepressants are designed to correct an individual’s brain chemistry and alleviate the symptoms of depression. Many people report feeling more like themselves when they begin taking an antidepressant. These medications are not designed to make you feel “drugged” like a painkiller or sedative will. Your doctor can help you find the right antidepressants for you, and if the first one does not work, there may be others that will. There are options for a reason.
Depression is caused by trauma only.
Some people believe you can only develop depression from going through a traumatic event. Trauma can trigger depression, but that is not the only reason people develop it. Also, not all people who experience trauma will end up with depression. There is no single cause of depression. It often develops from a combination of factors. Plus, some people develop depression even when everything in their life seems to be going well.
You can help someone with depression by cheering them up.
Some people mean well, telling those with depression to look on the bright side or to cheer up. They might tell them to stop thinking depressing thoughts or to just snap out of it. However, depression is much more complex than that. Telling them to cheer up does not help. Instead, encourage them to seek treatment and lend them a shoulder to lean on.
If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.
About the Author: Geralyn Ritter is an accomplished corporate senior executive, miracle survivor of the 2015 Amtrak train derailment, and author of Bone by Bone: A Memoir of Trauma and Healing. Geralyn is the executive vice president at Organon & Co., a new Fortune 500 healthcare company dedicated to the health of women.
Want to read Bone by Bone: A Memoir of Trauma and Healing? Check out the link above!
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