Depression is an insidious mental illness that can show up in many ways. While it’s one of the most common forms of mental illness, it’s also one that’s commonly misunderstood.
While push after push is made to spread awareness about depression, there are still too many myths about depression to count. They’ve spread around through our culture, and they make the illness harder to break out of.
We’re going to take a look at some of the most common myths around in hopes that you can leave this article with a deeper understanding of depression.
1. Depressed People Can Snap Out of It
Ask anyone who’s been clinically diagnosed with depression, and they’ll tell you that someone, without fail, has told them to just “snap out of it.”
While neurotypical individuals may be able to get out of a funk by quickly shifting their perspective, this is not the case for those with depression. “Thinking happy thoughts” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, and it’s damaging to ask someone with depression to do so.
Imagine being asked by a group of 7-foot tall people to dunk a basketball. Despite your best efforts, your body likely won’t ever let you sink that ball into the net. The same is true for people with depression.
2. Medication Always Works
Another common trope among those with depression is the parade of anti-depressants like Prozac or Lexapro.
While anti-depressants are an effective way to treat depression in some cases, this is not always true. Many individuals find that these drugs make them feel worse, or not themselves.
Asking someone if they’re taking their medication can be an extremely saddening thing for those with depression. It suggests that their problems aren’t as real as they actually are and that the massive struggle in one’s mind can be solved with a measly pill.
3. You Can Always Tell When Someone is Depressed
The classic image of a “depressed person” is spread around throughout media. We imagine someone with tell-tale signs of depression, slouching and feeling too tired to get out of bed.
This is certainly how some peoples’ depression manifests. At the same time, everyone is different. One person with depression might never get out of bed, the next might “cheerily” work three jobs while they struggle internally.
4. All Depression is the Same
Have you ever seen an advertisement where a cheery, muscular person describes their rise from depression to true bliss? These are people who fail to recognize that everyone’s illness is different.
Just because one person found a solution to their mental illness, doesn’t mean that the same solution will work for another person. It’s important to treat people with mental illness with respect and listen to their thoughts and concerns before trying to tell them how to get better.
It may be the case that you don’t know how they can get better.
5. There’s Always a Treatment
There is something called “treatment-resistant depression” which, as the name suggests, has no known treatment.
This is another case where telling someone how to better themselves can only be damaging. While there are ways to temporarily improve this kind of depression, the fact holds that it will, and always has, come back.
6. Anti-Depressants are Always Bad
Many people are under the impression that all anti-depressants, even ones that treat depression well, will change a person’s personality in some way.
This is certainly not true, as there are millions of people who have been treated successfully with anti-depressants. It is true, though, that some people experience such side effects.
It often takes months for anti-depressants to find their balance in a person’s body. This means going through a period of difficulty in order to find the correct mediation.
7. Depression Isn’t Really an Illness
Many people also believe that depression is something that comes and goes, and is nothing like an actual disease. When someone is depressed, however, their likelihood of self-harm or suicide is increased greatly.
If someone were to come to you and say they had a high risk of heart attack, you would believe them. You would make sure they were seeing a doctor.
In the same vein, if someone comes to you claiming to have suicidal thoughts, the threat of death is the very same. It’s a disease that doesn’t go away without significant treatment, much like literally any other chronic illness.
8. You Alone Can Solve Depression for Someone Else
Many the good friend has tried to be the shoulder to cry on for someone with depression. This is wonderful, and it is an essential thing that friends and loved ones are there for people suffering from depression.
At the same time, the issue of depression is too great for one well-intentioned friend to solve. True healing requires that something changes for the individual, whether that be going to counseling, taking medication, or something else.
9. Depression is Just Sadness
The final myth about depression is that it is a simple case of the blues. Many people think it’s like the feeling you get when you have nothing to do or one of your prized possessions breaks.
Instead, it is a crippling feeling of hopelessness and despair in a lot of cases. Depression is something that isn’t stripped away by a good moment, day, or even week.
It’s something that’s deeply rooted and biologically based in a lot of instances. It’s not just sadness, it’s something far more complicated and powerful. If you haven’t suffered from depression, you would be hard-pressed to truly understand what was happening in a depressed individual’s head.
It’s almost indescribable, and the person often lacks the energy to try and explain.
Overcoming Myths About Depression
Hopefully, these myths about depression have been busted for you. The next time someone tells you that they’re depressed, you may have a little more awareness of what they are going through.
If you think that you or someone you love needs help, explore our site to find out more about resources and treatments.