​Despite being one of the most common mental disorders, depression is often misunderstood. These myths and misconceptions may contribute to the stigma attached to depression, discouraging those affected to talk about their symptoms or seek help and treatment.

Here is a list of myths and commonly held misconceptions about depression, and the corresponding facts.

What is Depression?

Everyone feels sad when they face disappointments or lose someone or something important to them. Everyone feels sad when they face disappointments or lose someone or something important to them. 

It is important to recognize the symptoms of depression

Uncovering the Symptoms of Depression

  • I feel sad and empty all the time
  • I have lost interest in my usual activities
  • I notice changes in my appetite or weight
  • I have problems falling asleep or staying asleep
  • I am easily irritated, agitated or frustrated
  • I feel tired and lethargic all the time
  • I feel worthless, guilty and helpless
  • I have difficulty making decisions or trying to concentrate on tasks
  • I feel that life is hopeless and have frequent thoughts about suicide

If you experience 5 or more of the above symptoms for more than 2 weeks, you may be suffering from depression. It is advisable to consult your doctor.

Depression is Treatable

Many people do not seek help because they hold on to certain myths about depression. Some of these include:

MYTH: Depression is rare and will not happen to me.

FACT: Depression can happen to anyone, regardless of sex, race or age. It affects 121 million people worldwide1 and is one of the most common mental health problems. The World Health Organization estimates that 5 - 10% of people may need help for depression at any time and as many as 8 - 20% of people carry the risk of developing depression during their lifetime2.

MYTH: Depression is about feeling sad.

FACT: Depression is more than feeling sad. Persistent feelings of sadness is one of the symptoms of depression. However, depression also involves physical symptoms such as changes in appetite and quality of sleep, emotional symptoms such as feelings of worthlessness and changes in behaviour such as the loss of interest in our usual activities. For people experiencing depression, these symptoms continue for more than two weeks.

MYTH: Depression is a sign of weakness.

FACT: Depression is not a sign of weakness but a medical condition. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be treated.
Depression is unrelated to the strength of someone s character; it is a serious medical condition like asthma or diabetes. Depression is often triggered by major life events that may be challenging to cope with, e.g., the loss of a loved one, loss of job, etc.

MYTH: Depression is temporary and will go away by itself.

FACT: Depression will not go away by itself. It is a medical condition that requires treatment and support. In fact, the symptoms of depression are likely to get worse if left untreated. Thus, it is important to seek help early to prevent depressive symptoms from getting worse.

MYTH: Depression cannot be treated.

FACT: Depression is among the most treatable of all mental health conditions. The World Health Organization reported that 60- 80% of individuals positively respond to a combination of medication and psychotherapy treatments3. Recovery time varies for each individual. With early treatment, you can lead a normal and productive life. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that treatment for depression takes time and that recovery may take many months.

MYTH: Depression can only be treated by medication.

FACT: Medication is only one of the available options for treatment of depression. Depression may also be treated using psychological intervention or counselling, lifestyle changes etc. The treatment needs of each individual may be different. Some people may find medication most effective, for others psychological intervention may be most helpful; a combination of treatments may work best for others. Thus, it is best to approach a mental health professional to find out more about different types of treatment and to develop an individualised support plan.

MYTH: I am afraid to talk about my depression, for fear that it will make it worse.

FACT: Talking about your feelings allows you to air your problems, seek assurance and find solutions. You may want to talk to a trained counsellor who can help you walk through your depression. All information given is kept strictly confidential.

MYTH: People feel that I do not need a doctor because they think that I am lazy rather than depressed.

FACT: Depression takes away a lot of energy from a person. Loss of interest in usual activities is common and should not be misunderstood as a sign of laziness.

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