In light of Robin Williams' recent passing, I found it important to debunk myths about depression that society should be more cognizant about, to avoid repeating them. Depression is a debilitating disorder that can be extremely hard to grasp if you've never been in such a position. It's easy to dismiss the severity of depression if you know very little about it, so take some time to read these myths about depression to become more aware of the disorder:
1. Symptoms of Depression Are Just Mental
One of the first myths about depression is that the symptoms are all "in your head" (both literally and figuratively, for that matter). Depression doesn't just manifest itself mentally, but instead can also cause indigestion, tightness of the chest, fatigue, and trouble breathing and sleeping. Many people who suffer depression feel it all throughout their body.
2. Depression is Basically Just Sadness
For those who suffer from depression, time does not heal all wounds. It takes a lot more than just "time" or "keeping your head up" to help you overcome it. Depression is an overwhelming sense of sadness that can come about for no reason at all and last for months or years on end. It affects you physically and mentally and needs serious professional attention to be treated.
3. Depression is Caused by Certain Events
While major life issues like the death of a family member or loss of a job can serve as the catalyst for depression, there doesn't need to be a certain "reason" for its onset. One of the worst things about depression is that it can happen out of the blue, which is why it's important not to dismiss someone's depression even if on the outside, their life seems perfectly normal.
4. People with Depression Need to Be Medicated for the Rest of Their Lives
Some individuals with depression actually don't benefit from antidepressants and find that psychotherapy works for them much better. Some people may find that a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants work best. Some may taper off from antidepressants after supervision and getting the go-ahead from their doctor. It truly depends on each person, but it is certainly not guaranteed that a person with depression will need to take medication forever.
5. Depression Only Affects Women and Low-Lifes
Depression affects people of all different ages, genders, and socioeconomic statuses. Even some of the most successful and seemingly prosperous people can be depressed, and no one's symptoms should be dismissed because of their position in society.
6. Being Depressed Means You're Weak
Would you tell someone with a heart condition that they're weak? Depression chooses a person, a person does not choose depression. Like other physical ailments, depression needs to be treated and requires medical attention. No one is weak for having depression. Period.
7. Talking about Depression Makes It Worse
I read an article recently about how important it is to actually use the word depression so that it becomes a part of your common, everyday language. This way, if you or someone you know has depression, it's not a taboo word that anyone should feel ashamed of, but rather a topic that you're free to be open about.
Depression isn't anything that should be taken lightly, and it's important for everyone to understand how crippling the disorder can truly be. It may be difficult to understand what it's like for someone experiencing depression, but increasing your knowledge and empathizing with those who suffer from depression is a good start. If you or someone you know is in need of help, please don't hesitate to call 800-826-3632. Do you know any other untruths related to depression?