I've noticed that, in general, many people now days have a better understanding of depression and other forms of mental illness than they did 20 or 30 years ago. At the very least, it's not as taboo a subject as it once was so we are able to actually talk about it in "polite company" a bit more. Still, there are some misconceptions that persist. Some of these are understandable, to be honest. After all, if you haven't experienced it yourself nor had a close family member or friend suffer from depression, you only have information that you've obtained from the entertainment industry, the media, and/or advertisements. That's not the best way to get a clear understanding of anything, in my opinion. So! I thought we'd take a look at some common misconceptions about depression today.
1. Depression is the result of a chemical imbalance. Pharmaceutical companies will imply that all you need to do is to take their medication to correct the problem and be well. The truth is that depression is really a complex illness and narrowing it down to a simple chemical imbalance is not possible.
2. Taking an antidepressant will "cure" a clinically depressed person. Depression is not like a physical disease where the correct medication will fix the problem. The best treatment is a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Medication alone is not going to do the trick and it might take some time to find one that is helpful for a particular individual.
3. Depression is just a deep sadness - like grief. If this were true, a person would get better over time on their own or be able to just "pull themselves together". Depression is a profound sadness and sense of hopelessness for no reason. It isn't a reaction to a particular situation that will just go away.
4. Depression is hereditary so if one of my parents suffers from it, I will too! Recent studies seem to indicate that having a relative with depression only increases a person's risk of developing the disorder themselves by 10%.
5. Only women suffer from depression. This seems to be a persistent myth but it is just not true. More women are diagnosed with the disorder than men but that doesn't mean that men don't suffer from depression! In fact, here is a list of some famous men you may not have realized suffered from depression: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Michelangelo, Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin, George Patton and Sir Isaac Newton.
The important thing to keep in mind is that depression is not just having the blues. So if a friend or family member is suffering from this disorder, they can't just cheer up and get over it.
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