On the surface, depression appears as extreme sadness, withdrawal and disinterest in the common day to day activities. Beyond the surface, the victims suffer something deeper and more intense. Research indicates that 7% of all people suffer from depression at one point or the other in their lives. How much do you really know (or think you know) about depression? There are those myths that have been repeated for so long that some people have taken them as facts. Here is some of what you may have heard:
It’s just Sadness; really
We all get sad every once in a while; right? Is it a big deal when some seem to get a little bit more sad, more frequently and for longer periods? Most people assume it’s not. While sadness itself is a temporary emotion, depression is much deeper. It doesn’t just fade. It is accompanied by feelings of emptiness, anxiety, tension and hopelessness. Apart from the mental part, depression causes fatigue, insomnia and appetite changes. Enough of telling depressed people to ‘just snap out of it’, okay?
It’s not really an Illness
Since depression is mainly characterized by periods of sadness, some will argue it’s just a feeling. Far from it. Research shows that the brain of depression victims has physical differences compared to the rest. It is also accompanied by hormonal imbalances. The victims ought to be attended to with urgency and seriousness just like any other patient.
Victims are Weak
This myth has seen thousands of victims suffer in silence. They choose not to be regarded as weak, fragile and lacking in will-power. Depression can affect anyone, and has nothing to do with being weak. Think about it; is anyone regarded as weak for suffering from diabetes, cancer or arthritis? Depression is a complex mental disorder that alters the victim psychologically, biologically and socially. If anything, the victims are strong for attempting to go on with their day to day lives under the duress of such a mental burden.
It’s always triggered by negative circumstances
Depressive episodes can be set off by loss of loved ones, a job, divorce, business failure and so on. The duration and intensity of the episodes in this case depends on the severity of the situation. However, the circumstance cannot be solely blamed for the depression. A depression victim is already vulnerable even under normal circumstances. Sometimes periods of depression will occur with no known trigger. “What’s wrong?’’, most of us will enquire as soon as we encounter a depressed person. Now you know the reason why in most cases, they have no answer.
It only affects Women
Although women are twice as likely to suffer from depression, men also fall victim. Unfortunately they hardly come out to seek help. They feel like they’re compromising their masculinity and admitting weakness. While depressed women tend to be sad and weepy, men will appear angry and irritable. Some may wrongly assume it’s just a temper. Most depressed men end up in drugs.
These half-truths on depression have led to thousands of undiagnosed, untreated and mistreated cases. The right information brings us a step closer to getting the victims the help that they need.