Unlike other illnesses, depression is one many avoid talking about. Most have no problem admitting they have asthma, diabetes, etc., but when it comes to depression, hardly anyone will confess they have ever suffered from it.
Along with a bad stigma and lack of knowledge, there are also many misconceptions about depression and what it really means to have it. Below is a list I constructed to debunk some of these myths, as I am a fellow sufferer who once believed these misconceptions myself.
1. You have to be suicidal to be depressed.
Having suicidal thoughts can be a symptom of depression, but it doesn’t mean every depressed person has felt this way. Many never suffer from suicidal thoughts or actions at all. In fact, the more common symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, trouble sleeping, loss of interest, etc. Having suicidal thoughts is more rare in depressive episodes because most are only mildly depressed rather than being immensely sad like the media makes them out to be.
2. If you have a good life, you can’t be depressed.
Everyone has different reasons for becoming depressed. Some can become sad because of the weather getting colder, which has nothing to do with how “good” or “bad” someone’s life is.
3. Only medication can help treat depression.
This is also false. In some cases, simply going to therapy for a while to work through problems helps people pull out of their depression. However, there are some people who take medication to overcome their sadness as well, but there are also other treatments out there.
4. Once someone is on medication, their depression is completely gone.
Depression is like an addiction, and it’s very easy to get addicted to sadness. Taking medication doesn’t necessarily “cure” a person completely. It’s up to them to change their mindset and try to be happier as well.
5. Depression is a choice.
Of all these misconceptions, this is the one that irks me the most. Why would anyone choose to be sad all the time? Depression is an illness far beyond the sufferer’s control, and they can’t simply turn their sadness on and off. Depression is something that is triggered by events in one’s life such as a loss of a job, loved one, etc., which is completely out of their hands.
All in all, depression is an illness misunderstood by society. Every story is different, and the media doesn’t always depict it right when advertising medication or portraying characters.
Bri Shelton can be contacted at [email protected]