False: Depression is a state of sadness.
Some people ignore Misconceptions about depression, claiming that depression is not a real medical condition, believing that it is a choice that a person makes or the result of a personality trait. Some people also saw depression as a form of sadness or self-pity rather than a diagnosable and treatable mental health condition.
Reality of Misconceptions about Depression
Depression is a real medical condition, as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which can cause a range of psychological and physical symptoms. Over time, depression can also change the way a person thinks and feels and affect their ability to carry out daily functions. It includes both emotional and physical symptoms. To be diagnosed with depression, a person must fulfil the criteria in the guidelines. These include having symptoms that persist for at least 2 weeks and can significantly change how a person thinks, feels and behaves. Depression is therefore not equivalent to simple sadness or self-pity.
The 5 most important symptoms of depression:
Although depression can affect people in different ways, it often causes a loss of interest or pleasure in activities and a depressed mood. It can also cause symptoms such as changes in appetite or body weight, low energy levels and difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
False: Medication is always the best treatment.
Antidepressants can improve the way the brain uses chemicals that manage mood and stress, and doctors often prescribe them to help treat depression. Some people believe that taking antidepressants is the best or most effective way to treat depression. It is also a common belief that a person should take antidepressants for the rest of their life to prevent symptoms of depression.
Antidepressants do not work for depression in everyone or in all cases. In fact, doctors often prescribe antidepressants alongside psychotherapy and lifestyle changes. In addition, while it is true that some people with depression take antidepressants for long periods of time to manage their symptoms, doctors rarely prescribe antidepressants for life.
False: Depression requires a traumatic event.
Some people believe that depression is always caused by a traumatic event.
Trauma can be a risk factor or a potential trigger for depression, but there is no single cause of depression and it is often a combination of different factors. Also, not everyone who experiences a traumatic event develops depression.
False: Depression only affects women.
Cultural and societal stereotypes promote the myth that men do not or should not develop depression. As a result, many men have ignored their depression for a long time. Although the gender link to depression has largely been demolished, unfortunately there are still some people who continue to believe that depression is a female condition.
Everyone can experience depression. However, depression can involve different symptoms in men and women, and different factors can increase the risk of depressive episodes for each gender.
Some research shows that men who experience depression may show more symptoms of anger and substance use disorders than women. They may also be less open to talking about their feelings and therefore less likely to seek help. This may be a result of cultural stigma around masculinity and male behaviour. Men experiencing symptoms of depression should talk to a mental health professional as soon as possible to avoid serious complications.
Depression, on the other hand, is more common in women.(1) Women can also experience a type of depression after giving birth, which doctors call postpartum depression. The effects often include anxiety, fatigue and a persistent low mood. Researchers believe that postpartum depression develops for a variety of reasons, including sudden changes in hormonal levels. People with postnatal depression may feel fatigue and extreme sadness to an extent that makes it difficult for them to care for themselves and their baby. People with these symptoms should seek professional help from someone who specialises in this type of depression.
False: A family history guarantees depression.
Many people believe that a family history of depression guarantees that a person will eventually develop the condition.
This is not true.
Genetics certainly plays a role in the development of depression. Research shows that people with a first-degree relative with depression are 2-3 times more likely to develop depression themselves. However, there are also people with such a family history who do not develop depression. Whether a person develops depression also depends on other environmental, psychological and biological factors. Therefore, the fact that a person’s relatives have had depression does not automatically mean that they will also develop depression.
False: We need to stay busy to cure depression.
Some people believe that keeping busy with work, school or other hobbies and activities can help them prevent or avoid depressive episodes.
Getting the recommended amount of exercise and spending time with family and friends can help a person cope with depression, but immersing oneself in work or other activities will not help relieve one’s symptoms.
However, a person can focus on a hobby, project or other meaningful activity as part of treatment for depression. For example, a therapist may suggest that a person do this as part of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).