There is not much awareness about depression because if you have never suffered from depression, it’s hard to understand what a depressed person is going through. It’s up to the people around a depressed person, their friends and family, to learn more about this mental illness so that they can care for their loved one better. Here are 7 common misconceptions about depression you should know.
1. You Can’t Just Snap Out Of It
Depression is not like a mood swing that you get in and out of. One just cannot be not depressed when they want to because it’s not a voluntary state of mind. Also, you need to keep in mind that for a person to have a will in the first place, they need to have adequate levels of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. These neurotransmitter levels are usually below normal in a depressed brain.
2. Depressed People Are Not Seeking Attention
It’s common for people with depression to may act out because of their mental state, especially men. Studies show that men are more likely to engage in risk-taking, substance abuse, and escapist behavior when depressed. These behaviors usually serve as cover up for vulnerability. So while it might look like a depressed person is seeking attention, they’re only trying to deal with deep-rooted insecurities.
3. Sadness Is Not Depression
There is a distinct difference between sadness and depression. Sadness is a normal human emotion. Depression is an abnormal emotional state, a mental illness that affects your thinking, emotions, perceptions, and behaviors in pervasive and chronic ways. Unfortunately, most people who have never suffered from depression find it difficult to understand the difference.
4. Depression Is Not A Choice
Depression is often the result of one or more stress factors in one’s life. But not everyone gets depressed because of stress. People have their own coping mechanisms that are determined by our upbringing, personality, and genetics. In other words, one does not really have a choice about being depressed. And in case of clinical depression, you can’t help it when your body is acting against you.
5. Depressed People Are Not Lazy
Most people think that people who are depressed are just lazy and looking for a reason to what’s expected of them. However, there is enough medical evidence that depression is a mental illness with a biological basis and the most common definitions of depression is a state of low mood with an aversion to activity. Doing everyday activities is hard for someone who is depressed which might give others the impression that they are lazy. Ironically, depressed people also feel a great deal of guilt as a result of their inability to get things done.
6. Depressed People Need Good Listeners
When someone shares their plight with you, there is a tendency to share advice or things you have learned over the years. However, advice is not what the depressed person really needs from you. Most depressed people get enough advice from their therapists. Instead, being a good listener and showing empathy and kindness is what depressed people need and don’t really get.
7. Depression Is A Real Illness
Even with modern technology and advancements in medical science, mankind has not been able to fully figure out the human mind. Even mental health experts sit on the fence on certain issues when it comes to mental illnesses. What is known is that depression is maladaptive, causes the person excessive suffering, and can if left untreated lead to suicide. So it has to be treated like an illness that can cause harm to the person suffering from it.
There is a lot of social stigma about depression and because there is no widespread acknowledgment of it as an illness, most people who suffer from depression are hesitant to talk about it for fear of being judged.