The Myths about Depression


By: Samantha Mahabeer

“People really shouldn’t talk about being depressed. Talking about it just makes it worse.”

False.

Most people believe that talking about having a disorder like depression is only dwelling on the problem and change the subject altogether. However, talking about being depressed is an important step towards recovery. While talking about it does not pose a clear solution or cure to an individual’s depression, it does allow the individual to get their feelings off their chest.

“Only girls get depressed.”

False.

While it is true that more females openly admit to being depressed and are twice more likely to suffer from depression than males, there are more males struggling with this disorder than we even realize. Males, especially ages 17 to 22, are not willing to share their experiences with clinical depression. While this reflects the common gender schema in society that girls are more emotional and ready to share their feelings, it illuminates a severe medical problem. Males suffer with depression just as often as females but are less likely to receive the necessary treatment and support needed for recovery because we are simply unaware that they are living with the disorder. Although sex-based differences in brain chemistry do account for part of the reason females are more likely to suffer from depression, in North America the probability of having a major depressive episode within a year-long period is 3–5% for males.

“Depression is no big deal—Its really not even that serious. Just think happier thoughts!“

False. False. False.

Stumbling upon the various myths and misconceptions about depression, this one struck me like lightning, as I came to the realization that it is myths like these that make depression such an unnoticed evil in our culture. While it is normal for everyone to feel sad or under the weather every now and then, clinical depression is a very real and severe illness, that can have a wide range of devastating effects on an individual’s life, especially their future.

Needless to say, I won’t be knocking on the door of my therapist the next time I see my mother shed a tear or my brother frown, but like always, I keep an ongoing record in my head of strange behavior. The problem is not seeing my mother cry, but noticing tears pouring from her eyes consistently. My mother has always been an unexpressive individual, keeping her emotions to herself, and so red flags shoot up when I begin to notice her weeping every other day, or even every week. One of the clearest signs of depression are persistent sad, empty or anxious feelings.

Individuals struggling with this life-altering illness often lose interest in things they once held close to their heart. They appear uninterested and lack motivation. Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and guilt overwhelm them. In various daily tasks, they have difficulty concentrating, remembering specific details and often become indecisive. Changes in diet combined with other symptoms of depression can be another clue revealing someone battling this illness. It is also not unusual to find someone suffering from depression awake at absurd hours of the morning, as insomnia is another common symptom.

When is it safe to conclude that a friend or loved one is indeed suffering from depression? Unfortunately, there is not one clear-cut sign pointing towards the illness but rather a myriad of warnings and symptoms that can be evaluated based on the individual’s normal behavior. Being able to separate the myths about depression from the facts is an important step in diagnosing those around you.

References:

NIMH  Depression. (n.d.). NIMH  Home. Retrieved September 22, 2013, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml

West Virginia University. Well WVU: The Students’ Center of Health. Eight Common Myths About Depression. Retrieved October 22, 2013, from http://well.wvu.edu/articles/eight_myths_depression

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