Society’s view of depression has come a long way. While many people used to think it could be “snapped out” of and was just a matter of being lazy or unmotivated, now they understand that mental illness is as real and debilitating as any physical illness.
But there’s still work to do! While many people have sympathy for those with depression, its true impact on someone’s well-being can be hard to explain. There are still common depression myths and misconceptions that need to be addressed.
Myth #1: We all get depressed.
Robert Sapolsky is one of the top neurology researchers and professors in the world. In this lecture with over 1 million views, he explains depression in a brilliant and impactful way. The most important point he makes is this: Clinical depression isn’t “feeling sad.” Many people say something like, “I didn’t get that promotion; now I’m depressed.” Feelings of sadness are a normal part of life for everyone and tend to come and go with the ebb and flow of life’s events. Sapolsky says that many of the misconceptions about depression exist because so many people use the term “depression” in everyday life without knowing what it really means.
Severe depression is much different than normal emotional reactions to difficulties. It involves:
- Changes in hormone levels
- Shrinkage of critical brain regions
- Deterioration of neurological networks
- Trouble sleeping caused by dysregulation of REM sleep cycles
It’s a real illness that should be viewed as a medical condition. Sapolsky also points out that like many other medical issues, the risk of depression is influenced by genetics.
This doesn’t disregard anyone’s experience with sadness. If a life event is causing symptoms of depression for you, seek a professional opinion to receive a proper diagnosis.
Myth #2: Depression only affects your mental state.
When society at large thinks about depression symptoms, they focus on the mental aspects:
- Overwhelming sadness
- Feelings of guilt
- Suicidal thoughts
Unless you’ve been in a depressive episode, it’s hard to explain the physical symptoms. You’re exhausted. You can’t stay asleep. Your brain can’t focus on even simple tasks. You have significant weight loss. It’s no wonder depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
Myth #3: After receiving treatment for depression, you’re better forever.
People around you could think that because you’ve struggled with depression once and recovered, you’re all better. Unfortunately, that’s not true. After you first experience depression, there’s a 50% chance you’ll have another depressive episode. After two episodes, your risk increases to 70%, and after 3, it’s 90%. Clinical depression is not like a common cold that comes and goes away. It’s a mental health condition that requires a lifetime of maintenance and understanding from loved ones.
Myth #4: Medication is the only way to cope with depression.
Antidepressant medication tends to be a first line of defense against depression because it’s simple and can be prescribed by most doctors. But there are other treatment options available! Cognitive behavioral therapy is considered the “gold standard” for talk therapy. Some studies show it’s a depression treatment that’s just as effective as medication, and has a more permanent effect.
Another medical treatment option for depression is transcranial magnetic stimuation (TMS). TMS is a non-invasive depression treatment that works by reactivating neural pathways that are underactive in patients with depression. It’s remarkably effective, safe, and provided under the care of a psychiatrist.
If TMS sounds right for you, HPR Treatment Centers is a national provider with offices across the U.S. They specialize in getting insurance approval set up quickly, so you can start treatment right away. Call 877-565-3753 for more information.
There are also many things you can do yourself that can help stave off depression relapse. For many, exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication. Meditation can prevent relapses, and Harvard endorses yoga’s impact on depression and anxiety.
The best thing is, you don’t need to pick just one treatment. These options can be even more effective when combined with each other!
Myth #5: Depression is the same across genders.
Men and women actually experience depression differently. Depression affects women as a feeling of sadness, worthlessness, and guilt. Men generally experience it as exhaustion and anger.
Myth #6: Depression is hopeless.
People with depression may feel hopeless, especially with celebrity suicides dominating the news. When Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, and Chris Cornell are taken from us by depression, it may seem like an insurmountable mental illness.
But there is more light than you know. The lifetime risk of suicide among people with depression is 20%, but among treated patients it drops to 0.141%. Don’t suffer. There is help and there is hope.
If you’re ready to live without depression or you know someone who could benefit from safe, drug-free depression treatment, contact HPR Treatment Centers today to learn more about TMS therapy!