Hello Psych2Goers, and welcome back to another article. If this is your first time, then welcome to Psych2Go. Have you ever thought about an opinion someone may have had about depression? Maybe they had told you that depression didn’t exist, or that it was fake, or unrealistic. Since so many people in the world suffer from depression, it’s understandable that many myths, misconceptions, or misunderstandings about depression may surface. This can lead to those who may not know much about it to provide misleading ideas that may potentially be harmful to others. While there are certainly a lot of myths about depression, we’re going to debunk what we believe to be some of the most common myths that you may have heard surrounding depression.
Before we continue, please note that this is a disclaimer that this article/video is for informative purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please reach out to a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional if you are struggling.
1. “Depression is ‘just a phase'”
This may be a favorite among those who have felt as though they were depressed at one time, but had learned to “move on” from depression over time. While this myth can very well be spread by anyone, sometimes it may be a myth that others may use to distance themselves from when they themselves were going through depression, or having depressive episodes, it may also be used as a myth to invalidate others’ experiences and struggles with depression.
However, while definitely not a phase, seasonal depression does exist, and afflicts a frighting amount of people all over the world. With dozens of studies conducted over many years, a more than 20 year study based on seasonal depression had been published in the European Archieves of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience (Wirz-Justice et al., 2018). While people who are afflicted by seasonal depression do have adjustments in how they may be able to treat their symptoms whether it be through light therapy or other methods, they too suffer from seasonal depression in many different ways than their off seasons, and does not happen in phases.
Should you hear a myth that depression is simply a phase, please keep in mind that many different forms of depression do exist, with extensive medical studies both psychological and neurological to show facts, whether it be for clinical, seasonal, or even postpartum, all depression should be taken seriously, and approached with help and support, no matter what common myths may suggest. If someone you know had told you this myth, it may be worth it to try to explain to them the research or medical merit to the countless studies about depression. Plus, it is something that’s affecting you negatively, and it’s okay to ask for others to respect your feelings.
2. “People who are depressed are just ‘seeking attention'”
Ouch. This one is a doozy, Psych2Goers. Despite the research and documentation on depression, you may hear others spread this myth around plenty. If you’ve ever heard or read someone mention that people who are afflicted with depression are simply “seeking attention”, you may be able to imagine how frustrating it might be for someone who has depression to have their condition devalued and invalidated. You may even know how that feels if you have been diagnosed with depression as well.
Some individuals who have depression may be found engaging in a variety of behaviors that may come off as “attention seeking” to others. Whether it’s posting on social media, self-harm or self-destructive behavior, this may not always be perceived the same way as it is for the person exhibiting the behavior. For someone who tends to mention, talk, or find depressive material relatable, or engages self-harm constantly, it may just be a cry for help. Ignoring or putting others down for the way they may choose to express their sadness or anguish may end up pushing them further away, or making them feel alone, or misunderstood (Amirah, 2021).
Should you encounter this myth from someone you know, do keep in mind that everyone expresses themselves in different ways. We all may find each others’ behaviors a little odd sometimes, but we deserve respect and support all the same. If given the opportunity, try to open up to others and let them know why you feel the way you do, and how your expression helps you push some of the difficult feelings away for a bit, or how they may be able to help, if at all possible.
3. “Depression goes away when you’re happy”
While many people may wish for this to be the case, depression is, unfortunately, not curable. While many people may wish for this to be the case, depression is, unfortunately, not curable. However, there are many treatment options that can help manage these symptoms, and it doesn’t mean that a person suffering from depression will always feel depressed or blue. This may be where these sorts of myths come from, the idea that a depressed person can be outwardly happen, enjoy life, and have an interest in the hobbies that they like to do. A person who struggles with depression may have their symptoms lessen or treated through a variety of ways (primarily through professional help), however, this is not always the case. Numerous different types of treatment methods exist, from differing medications, psychotherapy, residential treatment, and many, many more (Bruce, 2021).
Symptoms of depression may be fleeting, but depression does not go away when someone is happy. It’s possible to have an amazing quality of life for some individuals who have depression, who exercise, eat, and even become famous or extremely wealthy. However, it’s important to always follow up with any potential symptoms, and to make sure to contact a professional regarding any sort of depression that you may be dealing with, and to encourage others to do so as well. The offer may make a difference in someone’s mind, even if they may not think so.
If you have heard this myth, or have heard it from someone else, it may be worth to mention that depression has no clinical cure, and try to talk with them about how you feel. If someone you love has said this to you before, they may not entirely understand how depression works, or be commenting on how important it is to be happy. While happiness is an important part of life, it’s also important to try to understand that it’s ok to feel the emotions we feel, and to seek support for them when we need it,.
While there are many, many sprawling myths about depression online, and in the minds and opinions of others, it’s always important to understand what is a myth, and what is a research, medically developed fact. Psychology and neuroscience have proven the acuteness of depression throughout many, many years of rigorous studies and tests. If someone you know is struggling with depression, or if you yourself are struggling with depression, please don’t hesitate to reach out for support. You aren’t alone.
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Amirah, S. (2021, November 11). 4 Signs You’re Depressed, NOT Attention-Seeking. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dx-4yjin7-I
Bruce, D. F. (2021, June 28). What is depression? | understanding sadness and clinical depression. Depression. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/what-is-depression
Wirz-Justice, A., Ajdacic, V., Rössler, W., Steinhausen, H.-C., & Angst, J. (2018, July 18). Prevalence of seasonal depression in a prospective cohort study. SpringerLink. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00406-018-0921-3#citeas