This year has no doubt been difficult for many people. In a recent study done by the CDC, 40% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition. Around 30% of people have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. And these numbers could very well be an underestimate. While many people are currently facing challenges with their mental health, there is a still a lot of negativity and misconceptions about depression that are part of the dialogue.
Thankfully, conversations about mental health are becoming more common. More people are speaking out about mental health issues and are working to normalize them. Despite this progress, there is still a long way to go. There’s still a lot of shame and stigma associated with mental health conditions, especially surrounding depression. At Eugene Therapy, we want to normalize mental health conversations and debunk out dated narratives that surround it.
What is Depression?
Depression is a mental health condition that more than 264 million people live with worldwide. Some common symptoms include a persistent feeling of sadness or hopelessness, loss of interest, lack of focus or energy, and disruptions to sleeping and eating patterns. There are varying types of depression and experiences with depression that people can have.
Misconceptions About Depression
Here are 5 misconceptions about depression that can be harmful and that are not true. We are debunking these myths to help break the stigma surrounding depression.
“It’s Not a Real Illness”
Depression is more than just feelings of sadness. It’s a complex mental health condition where someone’s brain chemistry, function and structure are negatively affected by biological and environmental factors. Depression is something that should be viewed seriously and treated, with therapy and medication.
“You Can ‘Snap Out of It'”
This is an outdated way of viewing depression. People without an understanding of depression may see it as people deciding to wallow in sadness or grief. However, depression is not a choice or something that someone can decide to “snap out of” with a change in attitude.
“If You Can Function, You’re Not Really Depressed”
Depression affects everyone differently. For some, just getting out of bed in the morning can feel impossible. Others, may still be going to work and functioning in their daily lives. However, it’s the same situation with physical health issues– just because you may not be wearing a cast, doesn’t meant that you aren’t experiencing physical symptoms of pain. The same goes for depression. While some people may not be vocal about it or it may not be easy to see, that doesn’t it’s not there.
“There Has to Be a Reason You’re Depressed”
While life challenges and traumatic events can contribute to an onset of depression, your genetics and brain chemistry also plays a role. People can experience depression without having a “reason” behind it. There may not even be anything particularly “wrong” happening on the outside and depression can still distort someone’s perception of the world and themselves.
“People With Depression Are Ungrateful or Lazy”
People may have a lot of things to be grateful about in their life and still experience depression. Claiming that someone is ungrateful for feeling depressed because of the good things in their life can make that person feel even more ashamed. Others may claim that depression is just an excuse for laziness. This is another harmful myth, when the reality is that depression affects many people in a way that they are so fatigued to the point of not being able to finish simple tasks.
How to Support Someone With Depression
All of these myths are extremely stigmatizing for people who live with depression. Instead of contributing to this negative narrative, it’s important to support those around you with depression and other mental health conditions. One way of doing this is by acknowledging that depression looks different for different people. Another way to support someone with depression is to validate their feelings. Having compassion and listening in a non-judgemental manner can go a long way in supporting others.