True Or False? 7 Myths About Depression



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If depression doesn't effect you, chances are it effects or will effect someone you love. Preconceived notions of the nature of depression can make the depression worse. It isn't uncommon for people with depression to believe they should be able to snap out of it on their own. By the time they call me they feel like they've failed; not realizing that the depression literally has a mind of its own and seeking proper treatment sooner defeats it faster. Too often people believe that if only they were stronger they could get out of the pit on their own. Allowing such thoughts to go unchallenged is like allowing someone to kick you, hard, when you're already down.

This list of myths collected by John Grohol, PsychCentral founder and CEO, and his responses help to dispel some of these notions. He neatly explains why they are all false and what better, more sound thinking consists of:

1. Depression means I’m really “crazy” or just weak.

Depression can strike anyone, at any time —
whether you’re “weak” or strong, it knows no bounds. Some of the
strongest people I’ve met are people who’ve coped with depression in
their lives.

2. Depression is a medical disease, just like diabetes.

While it has neurobiological components, it is no more of a pure
medical disease than ADHD
or any other mental disorder. Treatment of depression that focuses
solely on its medical or physical components — e.g., through medications alone — often results in failure. Get to know the risk factors for depression.

3. Depression is just an extreme form of sadness or grief.

If [depression] were ordinary sadness or grief, most people would feel
better just over time. In depression, time alone doesn’t help, nor does
willpower (”Pull yourself up and stop feeling so sorry for yourself!”).
Depression is overwhelming feelings of sadness and hopelessness, every
day, for no reason whatsoever.

4. Depression just affects old people, losers and women.

While … more women than men
are diagnosed with depression, men suffer for it all the more since
many people in society believe that men shouldn’t show signs of
weakness (even a man’s own upbringing may reinforce such messages).  …depression is not a normal
part of the aging process. In fact, teenagers and young adults grapple
with depression just as much as seniors do. …successful people have also had to deal with depression, people such as
Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, George Patton,
Sir Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin, J.P. Morgan and
Michelangelo. …being a loser is not a prerequisite to being depressed.

5. I’ll have to be on medications or in treatment for the rest of my life.

…most people who
have depression do not need to be on medications for the rest of their
lives (or be in treatment for the rest of their lives). In fact, a lot
of research suggests that most people can be treated for depression
successfully in as little as 24 weeks with a combination of psychotherapy, and if needed, medications.

6. All I need is an antidepressant to treat depression effectively.

Sorry, no, it’s not as easy as popping a pill. While certainly you
can have an antidepressant medication quickly prescribed to you by your
primary care physician, you’re unlikely to feel any beneficial effects
from that medication for 6 or more weeks in most cases. In two-thirds of patients, that first medication won’t even work! Combined psychotherapy treatment with medication is the recommended gold standard for the treatment of depression. Anything else is going to be significantly less effective, meaning most people will suffer with their depressive symptoms longer than they need to.

7. I’m doomed! My parents (or grandparents or great uncle) had depression, …isn’t it inherited?

While researchers continue to explore the neurobiology of
mental disorders like depression, having a relative with depression
only marginally increases your risk for getting depression (10 to 15%).

Read the entire article 7 Myths of Depression

Photo courtesy of Bern@t via Flickr

3 comments


  • I enjoyed this post, particularly because depression is in my family.
    Number 4 really resonated with me. People sometimes look down upon others who have mental illnesses or imbalances, which breaks my heart. You don’t choose depression and you don’t fall into because you’re weak.
    I have a lot of compassion for anyone struggling. I appreciate that this post highlights the reality versus the myths!

    2009/10/25
  • Mark Wozniak

    Thank you SO much for sharing this. I’ve been on a variety of antidepressants over the past decade or two, with little or no effectiveness. I’ve seen counselors, but they didn’t help very much. And, when I was referred to a psychiatrist, all he would do is prescribe more pills, and each time adjust the dosages a bit until the next appointment, with minimal time to discuss what was happening.
    Intellectually, I recognize the need for meds and counseling. Emotionally, it’s all I can do to get up some days. With a less than stellar track record with counselors, I remain hesitant to try again. It’s as you said, “Too often people believe that if only they were stronger they could get out of the pit on their own.”

    2010/08/19
  • Mark, You are a dear man who has lived through much. You deserve your chance to be free of the depression which burdens you on top of everything else. I don’t blame you for being too tired and disappointed in counselors to try again, (it is so hard to find the right one for you) but of course I’m going to ask you to do just that. Give me a call. Please. We can have a nice talk (I have coffees, teas, herbal stuff) without any obligation AT ALL, just the two of us chatting to explore the possibilities for genuine, effective treatment for you. I’m throwing down a rope, I pray you will take it.

    2010/08/23

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