According to the World Health Organization, over 5 crore people suffer from depression in India. Over the past few years, conversations about the role undiagnosed, untreated and misunderstood depression plays on the rising number of suicides has taken centre stage. Many of us have friends and family who may be suffering through depression and it’s important that myths about depression are debunked. The faster we can understand his mental health issue, the faster we can help those around us.
Myth #1: Depression is another word for sadness
It’s true that an overwhelming sense of sadness is a symptom of depression, it’s not the definition. Sadness is a temporary feeling that is catalysed by unsettling life experiences and memories. On the other hand, depression is a chronic condition. The deep sense of sadness that depressed people experience isn’t a fleeting emotion. In fact,sadness isn’t the only negative emotion they feel. People with depression may feel empty, apathetic, and anxious that may make living their daily lives extremely painful.
Myth #2: Depression Makes You Mentally Weak
Such stigmas are one of the major reasons why people often choose to stay silent about their sufferings rather than getting the help they need. It’s important to understand that depression isn’t something a person chooses to develop over time. Like any other ailment, depression is a complex mental disorder. Depression affects a person on a biological, psychological and social level. People who suffer through depression in silence are resilient and strong to be able to go on with life like everyone else.
Myth #3: Depression is the result of a traumatic event
While certain situations can trigger an episode of depression, a life event isn’t the reason for this mental disorder. Traumatic life events can leave any human feeling sad, lonely, and empty for a long period of time. However people with depression usually feel this way for weeks on end. This unfading sadness is one of the key symptoms doctors look for when diagnosing someone with depression.
Myth #4: Depression isn’t a real illness
Like every other mental disorder, depression isn’t a “one size fits all” kind of a medical condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with depression exhibit physical differences in their brain, neurotransmitter, and hormones that determine their condition.
Myth #5: Depression is only in the head
People often think that the main symptoms of depression are only emotional. However, that’s not all there is to it. People with depression find that their depression also manifests as fatigue, insomnia, changes in appetite, chronic muscle and chest pains. By constantly pushing the idea that depression is all in the head, we forget to pay close attention to the physical symptoms as well.
Talking about and normalizing mental health issues will create a safe environment for people to share their stories. Like so many other issues, depression too should be talked about in the open. If you want to remove the stigma associated with depression, it’s important to clear the air of the misconceptions as well.
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