Despite being the most common mood disorder in America, there are a lot of misconceptions about depression. A great deal of these misunderstandings stem from the stigma surrounding this all-too-real condition. Below, we’ll look to the science to debunk a few of the common myths concerning depression and those who suffer from it.
First, one of the foremost falsehoods regarding depression is that it’s “just sadness.” Spreading this misinformation makes it more difficult for those suffering, since they may feel more alone in their struggle. To set the record straight: Depression is not simply a state of unhappiness or sadness.
Depression is a diagnoseable disorder affecting a person socially, psychologically and biologically. Often, it is categorized as chronic, with sufferers experiencing impacts on their thoughts and actions for a longer period of time and at a stronger intensity than sadness.
Another common myth about depression is that medication is the only way to treat it. While medication is often an effective route, it isn’t the only management option available. One complementary course of action or alternative to prescription drugs is therapy, with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) being shown as especially effectual.
CBT is beneficial because it helps depressed patients identify and address negative thinking patterns, behaviors and emotional responses. The result is better day-to-day functioning and symptom management.
If medication is chosen, the person taking it does not have to stay on it forever, as some incorrectly believe. Of course, this form of treatment takes time to become effective, but that doesn’t mean patients have to be on it for the rest of their lives. Along the same lines is the myth that antidepressant medication changes a person. That simply isn’t true.
Antidepressants are designed to regulate mood. The degree of chemical changes produced in the mind are not enough to alter personality or make someone overly happy. Those who take medication typically report feeling more at ease or like themselves, not overwhelmingly “medicated.”
One final myth to debunk is that depression is only the result of trauma. Although traumatic experiences may be associated with depression, anyone could experience it throughout life. Family history could also come into play, as research shows half of those diagnosed with major depression have a genetic component. In other words, there could be many underlying factors contributing to depression, including genetics and life experiences.
Want to learn more about depression and the misconceptions surrounding this serious condition? Check out the accompanying resource from Vanguard Behavioral Health for further information.