Reviewed by Rashonda Douthit, LCSW
Myths About Depression
It is hard enough to deal with depression, but it is even harder to deal with all the myths and misconceptions that sometimes go along with the disease. Yes, it is a disease. That is one of the misconceptions that people have. But we will get into that later.
First of all, there is so much about depression that people just do not understand. Even the experts are still trying to figure out what causes depression and how to treat it. One of the problems is that depression affects everyone in different ways. Also, the same treatment does not work for everyone.
That is why there are so many antidepressants on the market now. In fact, the treatment for depression is one of the misconceptions about depression. Some say that it is not a real illness. Others say that people who are depressed should be able to just “get over it.” With that said, there are many myths about depression that need to be debunked:
Depression Is Not A Real Illness
This is the most common myth about depression. How often do you hear, “It’s all in your head?” Or maybe you have been told repeatedly that depression is just a way of looking for attention. Nobody would choose to feel this way. But depression is a real illness and, in fact, depression affects over 350 million people.
Because of those who feel this way, many people with depression do not get the help they need. It is hard to hear someone you love telling you that you do not really feel the way you think.
You Can Feel Better If You Really Try
There are always the people who say that you can feel better if you really want to. Seriously, who would like to be depressed? Nobody wants to feel depressed. Those who believe this myth should know how it feels. Here are some of the symptoms:
- Having trouble making decisions
- Lack of memory
- Feeling constantly fatigued
- Not being able to concentrate
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Weight gain or loss
- Eating more or less than usual
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Feeling foggy or out of it
- Aches and pains for no apparent reason
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Only Weak People Get Depressed
It does not matter if you are the strongest and bravest person on the planet. If depression affects you, you can do nothing to make it go away besides addressing it. And sometimes, it can be resistant to treatment.
One cause of depression is an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain. No amount of strength or power can change the chemical imbalance. It is usually treated by medication and/or therapy.
Men Do Not Get Depression
Even though it is true that women seem to be more susceptible than men, it is not true that men do not experience depression. Although twice as many women have been diagnosed with depression, there are a number of reasons that could account for the difference in the numbers of women and men’s diagnoses.
Some men resist getting treatment or do not admit having depression because of the myths about weakness. There is no reason why anyone, male or female, should be ashamed or embarrassed, but it is difficult to believe these myths or misconceptions.
Only Those with A Traumatic Childhood Get Depressed
It does not matter if you had or have the best life possible or if you were traumatized at some point in your life, depression does not care. It does not only affect those who were poor or homeless, abused, or who have had some kind of illness or disease.
Those who have been fortunate to have a wonderful life can experience depression. You do not have to be struck by some horribly sad incident to be affected by depression. This is especially true of those with chemical imbalances.
Depression Is A Normal Part Of Aging
Although older adults are indeed more susceptible to many illnesses, it is not a natural part of aging. There is no reason to believe that everyone will eventually experience depression as they get older.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the majority of senior citizens are not depressed. Only about one to five percent of older adults living at home are depressed. However, those who need home health care or are in the hospital have an increased risk of 11.5% to 13.5%.
Talking About Depression Makes It Worse
One of the best things that those with depression can do is talk about it. Keeping your feelings inside does nothing but cause more depression and anxiety. Talk therapy (psychotherapy) is beneficial in many types of depression, proving that talking about it will not worsen.
Many people suffering from depression hide it because they are embarrassed or afraid to admit it, making getting treatment virtually impossible. One of the symptoms of depression is isolation, and this is typically due to the fear of others, finding out what is wrong with them. Talking about what is going on is one of the first steps to getting the help needed to feel better.
You Have to Take Medication to Feel Better
Not everyone with depression is treated with medication. In fact, talk therapy is often effective for mild to moderate depression. It is important to keep in mind that there is no “one size fits all” treatment plan. Everyone is different, and just because something works for one person does not mean that it will help others.
If Your Parents Have It, So Will You
Although those with relatives who have depression are indeed more susceptible, it does not mean that it is inevitable. Even though genetics may be a risk factor, that certainly does not mean you will develop depression just because one of your parents had it. In fact, many people with depression do not have any family members with a mental illness.
Kids Do Not Get Depressed
More than half of mental illnesses appear before the teen years, and 75% happen before 24. One out of 10 young people in the United States has experienced depression, and only 20% get treatment. This is likely because they do not know how to reach out for help or talk to.
Many young people consider their feelings of depression as a regular part of childhood, and parents may overlook the symptoms, thinking it is due to hormones. A lot of parents believe that it is just a part of being a teenager. There are differences, though. If your teen is avoiding their friends, sleeping more than usual, and not enjoying things they used to enjoy, you should talk to them and seek help.
Depression is Depression, They Are All the Same
There are many types of depression, and sometimes it is difficult to determine which one you have. That is because many of the symptoms of one kind of depression may also be a symptom of another. This is true for other mental health disorders also.
TYPES OF DEPRESSION
Many disorders overlap, and you can even have two or more mental health conditions simultaneously. Here are the most common types of depression:
Major Depressive Disorder
This condition is characterized by having at least five of the symptoms of depression. One of these five has to be overwhelming sadness or losing interest in your favorite activities. Some other signs of major depressive disorder are:
- Inability to fall asleep, unable to stay asleep, or sleeping more than usual.
- Major increase or decrease in appetite
- Persistent, overwhelming fatigue
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or hopeless
- Trouble making decisions, concentrating or remembering things
- Missing school or work due to any of these symptoms
- Thoughts of suicide or death
Also known as persistent depressive disorder, this condition includes most of the major depression symptoms that last for at least 24 months. Major depressive disorder is typically the beginning of a chronic depression that just does not go away. To be diagnosed with this illness, you have to have a sad or dark mood for most days lasting more than two years.
Those with bipolar disorder have periods of high or manic episodes combined with severe depression. During the depressive phase, the symptoms of the major depressive disorder typically last several weeks. They alternate with these signs of mania:
- Feeling high or euphoric
- Risky or self-destructive behaviors
- Feelings of grandeur
- Increasing confidence and self-esteem
- Racing thoughts
- Fast speech
- Not sleeping for long periods
- Excess energy
Of course, this type of depression affects women after childbirth. However, it may happen to those who have a miscarriage or stillbirth as well. Some of the signs of postpartum depression include:
Feelings of being a bad mother
Anger toward others
Having trouble keeping up with mothering chores
Thoughts of suicide or harming your baby
Seasonal Affective Disorder
This condition most often happens during winter, when there is less sunlight. It will most often begin in the fall and continue throughout the winter season, clearing up as the days get longer. It is thought that this is caused by a lack of sunlight or body rhythms.
ONE LAST NOTE
Whether you or someone you know is suffering from depression, it is important to talk about it. Once you get the facts about depression and find out how to get help, you can be on your way to feeling better. Online therapy can help immensely as you can do it from home anytime you like. If you’re wondering if you show signs of symptoms, take the first step today by taking an online depression screening.