Depression is a most common mental disorder. However, the stigma attached to it so strong that people remain in constant denial of the fact that they are experiencing it. A lot of the stigma originates from misconceptions about depression. As a result, they don’t get proper treatment.
“Depression isn’t real illness, and it will go way by itself.”
People believe that depression is just sadness for sometime and it will go away automatically. However, depression is a serious medical condition that requires treatment and support. In fact, if not looked after, it can even lead to suicide attempt.
“I don’t want to discuss depression, as people won’t understand.”
Sharing your feelings with closed ones helps to relieve some of your burden. It also brings stronger relationships. Some people don’t share as they feel that the other person wouldn’t understand. In that case, they should talk to a trained counselor or psychiatrist who could better understand their condition.
“You can simply get out of depression if you try harder.”
Depression is a medical condition and not a choice by. “No individual would desire the symptomology it brings,” says Dr. Gabriella Farkas, founder of Pearl Behavioral Health & Medicine PLLC. “There are complex, reciprocal relationships between brain chemistry, functioning and environment.” She also states that neurological factors are largely beyond human control.
People without proper knowledge just advice those in depression to not think about it and get back to normal. They don’t realise that sometimes words can cause more harm than good, if not used judiciously.
“The best way to get someone out of depression is by telling them to be happy.”
A person can’t decide to be happy as they can’t force their brain to produce more serotonin. The best way to help someone who is in depression is to understand them. Listen to them willingly even if you can’t relate with what they are saying. Sometimes, lending an ear helps the depressed person to feel better.
“Depression is caused by a sad or negative event.”
This is one of the most harmful misconceptions about depression.
At some point of time, everyone experiences negative thoughts and feel sad. It may arise due to losing someone or ending relationship with someone. But it isn’t always the reason behind depression. When a person dwells in past events or constantly thinking and worrying about future, the feeling of isolation and hopelessness arises and lasts for long periods. As a result, this leads to depression.
“You have no right to be depressed. As you have everything one might desire for, you should be grateful.”
This is one of the most prevalent misconceptions about depression. Generally, these remarks are made by the loved ones of the affected person. They fail to understand that depression is like any other illness and it requires no justification. Most importantly, the wealth of a person doesn’t determine his/her mental status.
Suzanne Smolkin, VP of Clinical Operations, Behavioural Health UM at HMC HealthWorks said that, “When you are suffering from depression, you often aren’t able to see the situation realistically or respond to it adequately without help. Depression distorts one’s perception of self and the world, and this is where self-blame comes in.”
Sadly, depression is predicted to be the most common mental illness by 2025. While it is still misconstrued, we must educate ourselves to build a healthier future.
Perhaps by talking about and creating awareness can help to normalize mental health issues. Thus, many individuals will come forward and share their stories.
“We need the conversation to be out in the open, like so many other issues,” says Taylor. “It’s time for it to come into the light. When it’s in the shadow, it can’t heal.”
Edited by: Priyanka Srinivas