Mistaken Beliefs About Depression
For a condition that is widespread among children, adolescents and adults, there are a number of false assumptions and stereotypes about depression and mental health. One out of nine people could be diagnosed for depression at some point in the lifetime. Every year, depression takes its toll on millions of American. It impacts almost every aspect of a person’s life – work or school, relationships with friends and/family, lost interest in hobbies and activities typically enjoyed.
Some believe depression is simply a feeling of sadness or grief, and a person will be clearly sad if he/she is depressed. Truthfully, the way depression presents can vary depending on the individual. It is important to recognize mistaken ideas about depression in that these misconceptions can keep us from understanding the seriousness of depression and discourage people from obtaining needed help.
1. “He/She always seems happy, he/she can’t be depressed.”
The fact that someone may appear upbeat, fun, is the life of the party, or has a great sense of humor does not mean they cannot be depressed. There are quite a few who will smile on the outside, using humor to disguise how they are really feeling. They may appear to be doing great, but they are silent sufferers.
2. “I haven’t had anything bad happen to me, I don’t have a reason to be depressed.”
Even though life circumstances such as a breakup, divorce, loss of job, loss of a loved one can influence the development of depression, the ailment is more complex than this. Depression may be attached to a variety of factors, including hormones, brain chemistry, and other biological differences.
3. “If I talk about being depressed, it’ll only make me feel worse.”
The belief that depression should be something to be ashamed of is a big problem surrounding the illness. Some worry that if they open up to others, it will lead to social isolation or rejection. Others may not tell a physician because of concerns they will be judged negatively. Although it may be difficult to talk about depression and its symptoms, having a confidential, candid conversation often works as a crucial step toward getting necessary help.
4. “I’m weak” for experiencing depression.
Having depression has nothing to do with strength of character and does not make a person inherently weak, lazy or inferior. Many intelligent, professionally successful, and sociable people do remarkable things while going through depression. Though it is often complex to navigate, depression is still a medical condition and requires care and empathy like any other. They are simply coping with conditions that understandably need time and treatment to heal.
5. “I’ll have to be on medication forever.”
Depression is usually treatable, but there is no one-size-fits-all plan for getting better. Treatment plans vary depending on the person. Antidepressant medication may be one part of treatment, others may need counseling/therapy, or there will likely be a combination of medicine and therapy. Some may find that incorporating healthy habits such as regular exercise and meditation help cope with some of the symptoms.
6. “Depression isn’t a real problem.”
Depression is very real. It isn’t a made-up condition. As the National Institute of Mental Health points out, there’s a difference between experiencing sadness for a short period and one’s daily life becoming affected by the symptoms of this illness for several months or years.
It is important not to brush off a person showing signs of depression, assuming he/she will simply “get over it.” Judging the person or downplaying its effects will not help anyone get better. It is important to show those dealing with depression compassion, respect and kindness. Encourage them to seek help if they are showing signs of depression.
Want to know if you or a loved one has symptoms of depression, there are many online (and free) depression screening tools. For example, Mental Health America has a short instrument that can help get an idea if you or a loved one may have depression: https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools/depression.
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