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Myths about depression

There are many myths and misconceptions which exist about depression. Here I will talk about some of the most common ones.

1) Depression is a choice.
This is a peculiar one. Nobody suffering from depression has chosen to be this way, just as nobody affected by heart disease has chosen that. People who are depressed would choose the exact opposite if they could.

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as flicking a switch. Depression is treatable but it doesn't go away overnight. It takes time and effort. If you think someone is depressed, be supportive, talk them through their options and assure them that they aren't to blame.

2) You must have a reason to be depressed.

You have your health. You have a roof over your head. You have food on the table. You have a great job. You have a loving family and the best friends you could ask for. You couldn't possibly be depressed, right?

Think again. While depression can arise as a result of life events and environmental factors, there isn't always an apparent cause. You might experience feelings of hopelessness, unhappiness and a lack of energy without even knowing why. Again this is something that takes time and effort to figure out and deal with.

3) If you are able to function, you aren't depressed.

For many depression conjures images of someone who struggles to get out of bed, spends every waking minute being forlorn and simply can't function in day to day life. While this is true in some of the more severe cases, depression can take on many forms and different people respond differently to it. Even those who appear to be "the life and soul of the party" may well be fighting a battle you know nothing about.

There is the old adage that we never judge a book by it's cover and this principle extends to mental health too. After all, depression does not come with a warning label. Those of us affected by mental health issues are just like anyone else and we do not have a unique "look".

4) If you get depressed, you are weak.

Depression is indiscriminate and it can affect even the strongest of us. As a matter of fact, it takes a great deal of courage in order to speak up about feeling depressed and fight against the stigma around mental health. Quite the opposite of a weak person.

If you don't feel you can talk to somebody face to face, remember there are a range of helplines available where you can speak to somebody anonymously and without judgement. Check out my useful links page to see some of the help that is available.

5) Depressed people are just seeking attention.

The fact that so many suffer in silence blows that whole notion out of the water. In fact, it is this very line of thinking that prevents people from reaching out when they are most vulnerable. One thing that holds us back from talking about our problems is the fear of being dismissed as a whiner or an attention seeker. Therefore we bottle it up and the problem starts to escalate. It is a vicious cycle and the sooner we do away with this myth the better.

If someone is opening up to you about feeling depressed please take them seriously, especially if they are threatening suicide or self-harm. To borrow a phrase, they are not attention seeking, they are care seeking.

Warmest regards,
Jamie x



Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

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