As we enter into the seventh week of the nationwide quarantine, depressive feelings might be on the rise for everyone right now. Even outside of quarantine, depression is one of the most commonly experienced mental health conditions in the world. Still, there are many widely believed misconceptions about it.
Here are five of the most popular, but incorrect myths about depression.
Depression Only Affects People Who Have Suffered a Traumatic Event
Many people believe a person must experience a deep loss or trauma to be truly affected by depression. While deaths, job loss or traumatic injury can certainly trigger episodes of depression, it is far from the only reason a person might suffer depression. It also doesn’t mean people who have experienced such traumas will absolutely develop depression.
Depression can manifest itself even in people who seem to have everything going “right” in their life, and it can also be triggered by events such as the changes of season. Not traumatic, but still a cause for a common type of depression called “seasonal affective disorder.”
Men Do Not Experience Depression
A particularly tragic stereotype is behind this myth. The cultural belief that men can’t or shouldn’t feel sad, and must not talk about their emotions, let alone seek help for debilitating feelings of sadness. Men are also more likely to express their depression through aggressive behavior or anger, rather than sadness. Although the percentage of women who experience depression is higher than that of men, there are still many men who deal with this mental disorder. According to the American Psychological Association, 30.6 percent of men have experienced a period of depression in their lives. Men are also at a risk 4X greater than women for death by suicide due to depression.
The reason for this is that many men still find it difficult to seek help for their struggles with depression. But it is important to reach out for treatment as quickly as possible and to remember you are never alone.
Depression is a Genetic Disorder
While genetics have been found to play a role in the onset of depression, it is not the only reason people develop depression and it does not mean a person with a family history of depression is guaranteed to develop it themselves. There are a variety of factors, including environment, personal experience and brain development that factor into whether or not a person might experience depression.
Research suggests that children with parents or siblings experiencing clinical depression may be more likely to develop depression themselves, but there is debate over whether the behavior is learned or mimicked versus hereditary. Clinical depression is also only experienced by about 10 percent of Americans.
Depression Isn’t Real
A harmful and hurtful misconception about depression is that it is a self-manifested form of self-pity or an exaggerated feeling of sadness. Both are far from true. True depression is a real disease, no more a choice than diabetes or high blood pressure. This myth is especially dangerous, because it leads those who are experiencing real depression to brush it off or deny that it is happening.
Depression manifests in many different ways, but it doesn’t always mean acting or feeling sad. Large changes in appetite, sleeping patterns and everyday behaviors are all symptoms of depression and can last for weeks or months, especially if untreated.
Medication is Either Always or Never Necessary
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to any part of mental health treatment, especially not medication. Medication can be an integral piece of a person’s journey to feel better, but there are many different ways it can play its role. Some people require medication for years or decades, while others may only need it for a few months. Some people thrive off of psychotherapy and changes in lifestyle or diet, without ever needing to be prescribed antidepressants.
It is important to discuss medication management with your provider as a part of your treatment plan, so that both patient and provider can be on the same page when it comes to medication. At Mile High Psychiatry, we pride ourselves on our experienced staff of providers, especially when it comes to your medication.
If you or someone you know is experiencing depression, contact us today to get started on the journey to Helping You Become the Best You.