Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders impacting almost 280 million people worldwide and a leading cause of disability according to the World Health Organization. Unfortunately, the myths and misconceptions surrounding depression do a great deal of disservice and create a culture that discourages people to seek support. Dispelling these myths can help break the stigma and empower people to reach out for support.

Let’s look at some of the most common myths and the truth about depression:

Myth: Depression is a temporary feeling of sadness

There is a common misconception that depression is just a temporary bout of sadness and it will go away on its own if you don’t dwell on it.  Fact: Depression is a serious mental health condition that can lead to several symptoms. These include changes in mood, appetite, sleep patterns, and energy levels. It is not a fleeting feeling but can last for months, or years if unchecked. It can also severely impact a person’s ability to function in their daily life. Many individuals experience grief or tragic episodes that lead to extended feelings of sadness. For instance, the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job. These periods of sadness tend to fade over time but may sometimes lead to depression.

Myth: Depression is self-pity

Another common misconception is that depression is simply a state of mind or a form of self-pity. Many individuals suffering from depression are told: “stop feeling sorry for yourself.” Fact: Depression is a serious medical condition and can co-exist with feelings of self-pity.  Resilience, courage, and willpower are admirable traits. However, people suffering from depression are not ‘lazy’ or wallowing in self-pity. And no, it cannot be simply “willed” away. It is a medical illness with serious and often long-term health implications. It requires professional care such as therapy and medication.

Myth: Medication is a sign of weakness

There is considerable stigma and misinformation associated with antidepressants. One of the most popular ones is that taking antidepressants is a sign of weakness.  Fact: Antidepressant medications are an effective tool to treat depression and help people manage some of the symptoms allowing them to lead a better quality of life.  Treating depression either with therapy or with medication is not a sign of weakness, but rather an acknowledgment that it is a serious condition that requires professional help.

Myth: Talking makes things worse

Individuals with major depressive order are often advised not to dwell on their problems and that it makes things worse.

Fact: There is scientific evidence that guided therapy sessions with professional mental health practitioners can help those suffering from depression. Various approaches in psychotherapy help treat depression by working through negative thought loops, unconscious feelings, and relationship troubles.

Myth: Depression is passed on from parents to children

“If your parents have depression, so will you.” This is a commonly held misconception whereas the facts show that many people with no family history also develop depression. Fact: Genetics has a role in the development of depression. People with a first-degree relative living with depression are somewhat likely to develop depression themselves, but depression also depends on environmental, psychological, and biological factors.

Myth: Staying busy and working hard is a cure for depression

Many believe that staying busy with work, school or other activities can keep depression at bay. Fact: Getting the right amount of exercise and spending time with friends and family can help a person manage some of the symptoms better. However, simply immersing oneself in work or other projects may not necessarily help cure depression or keep it at bay.

Myth: Everyone with depression experiences the same symptoms

It is a prevalent fallacy that depression looks the same in everyone.

Fact: Not everyone suffering from depression undergoes the same thing. Each individual is different, and each body responds to genetics, environmental, and chemical factors in its way. The way an individual experiences depression is unique to them.

Conclusion

Living with mental health disorders such as depression can be challenging enough without the added stigma and misconceptions about the condition. It is important to seek information on depression from accurate sources because the prevalent notions increase the prejudice around mental health disorders. If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of depression, it is best to seek advice from a licensed mental health specialist to make an accurate diagnosis.