The good news is that there is a lot more acceptance regarding mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety nowadays than there was even a decade ago. That is because there is plenty of awareness about depression and that it is a serious illness, the same way as any physical illness. Therefore, that in itself has softened the stigma. However, it hasn’t softened it enough because of the bad news I am about to reveal.
The bad news is that when it comes to acceptance of depression as being an illness, it is not as accepted as an illness as it should be. The reason for that is there are too many myths tied to the condition. Unfortunately, these myths are preventing the stigma from being softened anymore than it has. Let’s now begin busting these myths so that the misconceptions about the illness can end.
Myth 1: You Cannot Have Depression If You Are Not Lying In Bed All Day
The fact is that many people with depression are functioning members of society. That means they wake up when their alarms go off each morning, get ready for work or whatever they need to do for the day, and do what needs to be done the same way as those without any illnesses can do.
Therefore, no, a person with depression is not lying in bed all day. Perhaps a few have depression so significant that they do struggle with leaving their beds, but that is the exception and not the rule. For all you know, your next-door neighbor that you see driving to work each morning has depression.
Myth 2: If You Smile And Laugh A Lot, There Is No Way You Could Have Depression
That is also as false as it can get. People with depression can often conceal it quite well. That means they will smile a lot and tell jokes, and plenty of comedians likely have depression. Take a look at the example of the late Robin Williams.
Therefore, your co-worker, friend, or neighbor who loves to enjoy having a good laugh now and then with others may very well suffer from depression. The stranger that walks by you on your walk that smiles and greets you could also have depression.
Myth 3: People With Depression Are Crying Daily
Read the myth above this one again. Therefore, no, it is not true that people with depression cry daily, and many of them once again do smile, laugh, and appear friendly. However, whenever those are having a difficult time and depression gets to the best of them, then yes, they will laugh less, smile less, and may cry more. That never equates to it happening 365 days (366 on leap years) a year.
Myth 4: You Can Get Over Depression
Depression is an illness, and no, you cannot get over depression the same way you cannot get over having diabetes or cancer. However, you can treat depression and keep yourself functional the same way you can treat other illnesses. No one can cure depression like most other ailments, and doctors can only treat it. And sometimes, medication can help along with therapy for treatment.
However, those like myself who are medication-resistant — where side effects can worsen the condition-must do with therapy. The good news is that new therapies gear towards helping those who manage depression cropping up. Supplements can also help but are not cures by any means.
Myth 5: Diet And Exercise Can Cure Depression
Diet and exercise can help you manage your depression, as nutritious foods with properties that help boost serotonin can help. Exercise can help you release endorphins which can also help relieve symptoms of depression. However, that once again is not the cure. If you need to take medication for depression, diet and exercise will not replace that. It cannot replace any therapy prescribed for depression. Diet and exercise can be something you can incorporate into your regimen.
Myth 6: Depression Is A Sign Of Weakness
Depression has nothing to do with strength or weakness. Once again, depression is an illness, and anyone can develop an illness regardless of their strength level. A strong person can develop diabetes, even if they eat well and exercise.
Someone strong can end up with cancer. Someone strong can also struggle with other mental illnesses such as anxiety disorder or bipolar disorder. Depression is the result of structural and chemical abnormalities in the brain. That has nothing to do with being strong or weak.
Myth 7: People With Depression Are Suicidal
Once again, if you look at the myths listed above, you will see that those who have depression can function in society. They also can laugh, smile, and get along with others, and are not always crying.
The same applies to those with depression being suicidal because not everyone who has the condition has a suicidal way of thinking. Suicide ideation is common among many people with depression, but that does not equate to many attempting to end their lives. Therefore, that is a clear myth that those who have depression are suicidal.
Myth 8: Trauma Always Brings On Depression
Even though it is common that unresolved trauma can cause depression, no one knows the exact cause. Therefore, trauma does not always bring depression on. You can find plenty of people who have never experienced significant trauma, such as abuse, witnessing something traumatic, or having a traumatic injury that struggles with depression.
Therefore, genetics may play a role, the environment may play a role, or something else undetectable comes into play. Someone who lives an easy life can struggle with depression, and if they experience trauma suddenly, that can intensify the symptoms. But that would not be the cause.
Myth 9: You Will End Up With Depression If One Of Your Parents Has It
I can tell you right now how untrue that is because my daughter does not thankfully have depression. There is truth to depression being genetic. However, that does not mean you are guaranteed to pass it on to your kids if you have the condition.
You can compare it to you having brown hair and giving birth to a red-headed child. Therefore, whether you pass the depression gene onto your kids is not known as it is like rolling the dice.
Myth 10: Depression Only Effects Women
That myth is one of the most dangerous ones around because that causes men who struggle with depression to suffer in silence. Depression affects both women and men. Unfortunately, the only thing is that men struggle to come forward about their struggles with depression because depression is more stigmatized among men than it is among women.
The more that men come forward who suffer from depression to talk about it, the better. Not only will that help bust this myth and soften the stigma, but it will encourage other men to talk about their struggles too.
Those myths need to go, and there are no two ways about it. Once again, I am not a medical professional as I am an advocate for mental health. That is because not only am I a sufferer, but I have done the research. The more awareness there is about mental illness, the more that the stigma will soften up.
Originally published at https://miriamslozberg.com on April 26, 2021.
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