With depression never straying far from the media eye, whether in a popular television series, a national celebrity or on the daily news, it is easy to believe the misconceptions surrounding depression and mental illness. This brief article outlines some of the myths: it explains where they come from, the truth behind them and how thinking about depression in a different way can provide a more effective basis for depression treatment.
Myth 1: Depression is just a medical disease.
This is simply not true. Although modern science furthers our understanding of many types of illness, depression is very different from a medical condition and so requires different treatment to say, asthma or diabetes. It is helpful to understand depression as a combination of factors including those that are social, biological and psychological. Treatments that rely solely on medication alone often fail; much more support is needed.
Myth 2: Depression is not real medical illness.
Despite what we have stated above, depression should be regarded in medical terms, since it can effect the body as well as thoughts and mood. Like a medical illness, depression can have both biological and genetic causes. The key to the treatment of depression is to treat it with flexibility and understanding, and thus to view depression as a medical illness, but not wholly so.
Myth 3: Depression is a normal part of life.
Depression is simply not just feeling down in the dumps. People who have depression are also not just suffering from a short term spell of ‘the blues’, instead depression can last a lifetime and has a much deeper effect than just feeling upset for a while.
Myth 4: Someone with depression is just feeling sorry for themselves.
This is just not true. Many great people of our time, such as Churchill, Darwin and Florence Nightingale, are all cited to have had depression – not exactly people who had the disposition, or indeed the time, to sit around feeling sorry for themselves.
Myth 5: Nothing can be done about depression.
Unfortunately in today’s society, when we are always on the move, have somewhere to be and something to d,o we can often feel nothing can be done about depression. Indeed a great deal of the time we are simply not prepared to take the time to try and treat depression. The myth that nothing can be done about depression can be shown false by the statistic that around 80% of people with depressive disorders improve with treatment.
Myth 6: With enough willpower you can make depression go away.
It is true that a strong mental attitude can help with the treatment of depression. However simply willing depression away would do as much good as, for example, willing away diabetes. Depression is related to psychological, social and biological changes, and seeking help is an act of strength not weakness.
Myth 7: Depression does not affect children or teenagers – this feeling is just part of growing up.
Unfortunately 1 in 33 children and 1 in 8 teenagers are estimated to be suffering with depression at any one time. This differs from changes in mood and body you would normally expect to see around puberty. Children and teenagers often find it harder to express their feelings as an adult can, so it is essential they can access appropriate psychological treatment and care.
There are several myths about depression, and this article has touched on a few of them. One thing to remember is that having depression does not mean you are crazy or weak, and that finding the courage to start treatment is perhaps the most positive step you will take on the road to recovery.