Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting over 16 million adults in the United States every year. Unfortunately, only 1/3 of those affected will seek help. One major reason why individuals may not seek help is the stigma that comes with the illness. Depression is highly misunderstood, and there are a lot of myths about the illness. Here are 8 common myths that should be debunked right away.
1. Depression and sadness are the same thing
Depression and sadness are actually very different. Sadness is only a symptom of depression and will come and go, whereas depression is chronic and long-lasting. Depression can make a person feel empty, anxious, tense, and even suicidal. Most people will experience sadness after the loss of a loved one or failing a course in school. For some, depression can be triggered by severe stress, chemical imbalances in one’s brain, or trauma.
2. It’s all in your head
Though depression is diagnosed when there is a chemical imbalance in a patient's brain, it actually encompasses several symptoms that are physical rather than psychological. A few
include fatigue, insomnia, chronic muscle and chest pain, headaches, and changes in appetite or weight. So, whenever someone tells you "it's all in your head", remember that many of your symptoms can be physical and that it really isn't “all in your head.”
3. Men don’t get depressed
Yes, it is true that women are twice as likely to suffer from depression at one point in their lives than men are, but that doesn’t mean men don’t suffer as well. Because of the stereotype that men should be strong and masculine, many men struggling with depression are afraid to reach out for help due to fear of judgment. Men also tend to avoid treatment more so than women and therefore have a greater number of suicides every year.
4. You must have a reason to be depressed
I cannot stress enough how false this statement is! Depression has no justification and can come
out of the blue. Some people struggling with depression have no indication that a depressive
episode is starting to come on. There is often very little warning before a depressive episode. However, there are times when one may have a “reason” to be depressed. The loss of a loved one can trigger a depressive episode in people who have already been diagnosed with depression or a mood disorder, but for most, depression comes with no warning. You do not need a reason to be depressed, and it’s okay to not have a “reason” for having a depressive episode.
5. Depressed people cry a lot
Though frequent crying spells are a common symptom of depression, many people struggling with depression don’t cry. Many people with depression tend to have a blank or emotionless expression and hold in their emotions rather than expressing them. Individuals with depression
or other mood disorders experience feelings of worthlessness or uselessness and feel as though
they can’t live life to the fullest. Some individuals may even experience melancholia, which is the complete inability to cry and is a symptom of Melancholic Depression. Melancholic Depression is one of the most severe forms of depression, so it's important to let your treatment providers know if you are struggling with this symptom.
6. Talking doesn’t help
This is also false. Talking about your feelings to someone you trust is actually the best thing you can do to help yourself. Talking opens a line of communication, and by doing so, it lets others know what they can do to help you. It's also very comforting to have someone you can go to in order to talk about your feelings and your struggles. You can learn to address negative thought patterns and learn how to counteract those patterns as well. Having someone you can talk to may also help subside feelings of loneliness and bring you comfort.
7. Taking antidepressants makes you numb
Some medications for depression can make you feel numb or dissociated but these are very rare symptoms. For many struggling with depression, antidepressants can help patients feel like their old selves again. There are more advantages than disadvantages to taking medications and most medications won’t alter your personality. Some advantages include improvement in your mood and sleep, decreasing anxiety and improving your focus. However, some disadvantages may include dizziness, nausea or headaches. For me, finding the right medication and therapy combinations have become vital to my well-being. Once I found the best medication for me, I quickly noticed an improvement in my mood. If you’re thinking of starting a medication for depression, make sure to talk with a medical professional for help in finding the right medication for you.
8. You can just “snap out of it”
Unfortunately, depression is not something you can just "snap out of". Depression is a chronic, or long-term, illness and many battle this disease for the majority of their lives. Though remission is possible for some, others may never fully recover from depression. Depression is very complex and difficult to understand. It is not caused by laziness, weakness, or negativity. It is caused by biological, social, and environmental stressors, as well as chemical imbalances in the brain. As wonderful as it sounds, “snapping out of" depression isn’t achievable; it takes a lot of hard work and dedication in order to overcome this disorder, but finding happiness is possible. Finding treatment that bests suits you can help you live a very long and fulfilling life.