Depression – and mental health illnesses in general – have a lot of stigma surrounding them still. As the years go on, mental health is slowly being talked about more and more. However, there is still a long way to go because there are many widespread and “accepted” myths that surround depression.
Depression means you’re suicidal
There is a very common misconception that having depression automatically means that the person suffering must be suicidal. However, you should understand that some depressed people can experience suicidal thoughts, but not all do. It is very much possible that a person can be depressed without being actively suicidal. This also doesn’t mean their depression is any less authentic than a depressed and suicidal person’s case.
Antidepressants are a cure for depression
As much as we wish that there was a definitive cure for depression, that sad reality is that there is none. Antidepressants are not a cure. Antidepressants are one of the many treatment tools used to fight depression. Also, different antidepressants work for different people.
Therapists can’t help truly depressed people
This myth is sort of along the same phrase as the one above. It’s a sweeping generalization that is incorrect. It probably developed and stayed around because of a lasting mistrust of “shrinks” back when psychology was a more underdeveloped field. The truth is that therapists can be more effective in treating someone’s depression than medicine alone. In fact, therapy is the most effective treatment for depression! While it is important to realize that a lot of depressed people don’t have reliable access to therapists (mostly due to costs associated with therapy), it is also important to note that there are many avenues where people can get affordable help from a licensed therapist. One of the leaders in making mental health help more affordable and accessible is BetterHelp.
Depression is the same as a “bad day”
Here’s the thing: we all have our bad days. We all don’t have depression. Depression is not just a bad day. Depression is considered a psychological, social, and biological (read: physical!) disorder. People with depression struggle for weeks, months, and years. Dealing with the occasional bad day is not even on the same playing field as dealing with depression.
Talking about depression makes it worse
Having an open dialogue about depression and mental health issues does the opposite of “making it worse.” Talking about depression alleviates the stigma surrounding the disorder. It makes the people suffering from depression feel more open and willing to share their experiences to those who will listen – this in itself can prove quite cathartic. The more the world talks about depression, the more people can learn about the disorder.
Children can’t be depressed
There isn’t a minimum age to be diagnosed with depression. However, even though most of the classic symptoms don’t surface until around age 12, that just shows that children can be diagnosed with depression. In fact, more kids than ever before are being diagnosed with depression; this can prove a good thing because they can start treatments much earlier and recover sooner.
There are many myths and stigma that surround depression. This is not an inclusive list, but it should be enough to show that depression is a very real, legitimate, and serious disorder that disrupts millions of lives. Busting a lot of these myths should lead to an even more open dialogue about depression and mental health in general.