One in six people will experience depression at some point in their life (American Psychological Association, 2017). It’s one of the most common mental health problems people experience today. You likely know someone who is dealing with depression right now.
In spite of this, what you think you know about depression might not be true. There are a lot of misconceptions about depression, including what it is, its symptoms, and its treatment. To help clear up some of these misconceptions we have gathered – and busted – some of the most common depression myths.
Depression Isn’t a Real Sickness
Many people think that because you can’t see the physical symptoms of depression, it isn’t a real disease. Depression is a very real health problem and it has a very real impact on peoples’ lives. People with depression have to deal with a number of symptoms and side effects, the same way people have to deal with the symptoms of any other illness.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy test to determine whether someone has depression and there’s no straightforward cure. This makes it hard for many people to grasp the reality and severity of depression. Remember, depression is a disease and needs to be treated as one.
Myth: People are Depressed Because They Feel Sad
Everybody feels blue sometimes; not everybody has depression. It’s true depression is a mood disorder and can be brought on by a bad situation. But depression is much more than just a feeling. It’s a mental illness that alters a person’s brain chemistry, and it goes much deeper than just being sad.
According to the Royal College of Psychologists:
“Your feelings [of sadness] don’t lift after a few days – they carry on for weeks and months. [These feelings] are so bad they interfere with your life.”
This severe mood alteration can cause changes in personality, appetite, sleeping patterns, and more. Depression can affect a person at any time or place regardless of their emotions.
Myth: People with Depression Can Just Snap Out of It
Nobody chooses to be depressed, just like nobody chooses to catch a cold. You can’t just ‘snap out’ of a cold, and you also can’t just ‘snap out’ of depression. Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance and is an illness. This means that no amount of positive thinking or will power will be able to cure someone of depression. While treatment plans do often focus on shifting the thoughts and behaviours of a person who’s been diagnosed, it’s only one part of the process and it doesn’t happen overnight.
Myth: You Can Help by Cheering Them Up
Many family members and friends believe they can help a loved one with depression by trying to cheer them up. People with depression don’t just need to be cheered up because they aren’t just sad or feeling down. What they’re experiencing is a result of an illness and they need professional treatment.
Myth: Depression Only Affects Women
The World Health Organization states that:
“Unipolar depression, predicted to be the second leading cause of global disability burden by 2020, is twice as common in women.
Depression is not only the most common women's mental health problem but may be more persistent in women than men. More research is needed.”
While the statistics tend to indicate women suffer from higher rates of depression than men, it doesn’t exclude men from having depression.
The misconception that men don’t suffer from depression is brought about by our society’s expectations for men. Most men in our society aren’t comfortable discussing their feelings, and that’s largely a result of culture. Some men actually have been convinced to believe it’s a sign of weakness and so they don’t seek treatment for things like depression. This has led to the false belief that only women are affected by depression. Remember, depression isn’t a sign of weakness and both men and women can experience depression.
Myth: Antidepressants Will Alter Your Personality
A lot of people believe that because antidepressants are designed to affect your brain chemistry, they’ll actually change your personality. Fortunately, this isn’t true. Antidepressants will alter your brain chemistry. Their job is to help correct the chemical imbalances in your brain that are causing your depression. When prescribed and taken correctly, antidepressants should only affect those chemicals and nothing more. Research shows that most people who use antidepressants to treat their depression feel more like themselves again, not like a completely new person.
Keep in mind that some people have treatment-resistant depression, which means their symptoms and illness doesn’t respond to typical treatments like antidepressants or therapy. In these cases, or in cases where a patient would like to try an alternative treatment to medication, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) can be effective.
Have you noticed any symptoms of depression in yourself or someone you love? Are you looking for an expert team to help with depression treatment in Edmonton? If you are, get in touch with the team at Envision Mind Care. We’re to make sure every person suffering from mental illness in Edmonton finds a treatment plan that truly works for them. Contact us today to set up an appointment and learn more about the many treatment options available.