The Most Common Misconceptions About Depression
By Grant Stenzel, MS Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
It is extremely common for the go-to idea of depression to be someone spending their entire day in bed with a tissue box at the ready because they can’t seem to stop crying. However, this isn’t what depression usually looks like. If someone is experiencing a serious depressive episode, they might be unable to get out of bed, but most of the time that common perception of depression is just someone who’s sad and feeling sad. But that’s not accurate. You should feel unhappy when an upsetting event happens. You should feel despair when you lose a loved one, go through a breakup, or lose your job.
Depression, however, is sneaky. It infiltrates people’s lives in a multitude of ways, and it does not require a specific cause. It often expresses itself as far more than just crying, but because so many people associate depression with never ending sadness, it can be hard to notice symptoms in others, and sometimes, even in ourselves. These are some of the most common misconceptions surrounding depression.
Depressed people can’t get anything done.
Just because someone is depressed doesn’t mean they’re not functional. Many people who suffer from depression still lead relatively normal lives. They go to school. They go to work. Any responsibility that absolutely has to be done is probably being taken care of. They have enough in them to do the things they need to do to survive, but there’s not a lot of room for anything else. They lack the ability to feel joy from hobbies they used to love. Nothing excites them. Socializing with friends and family makes them feel like they just ran a marathon. After they get home from work, they might immediately lie down because they’re exhausted from simply getting through the day. But because they show up and fulfill their responsibilities, they don’t fit many people’s idea of what a depressed person looks and behaves like.
Depressed people are always sad.
Being depressed doesn’t always mean being just sad. For many, anger is the most common expression of depression, and this is especially true with teenagers and men. Depressed people easily move to anger when they feel sad, embarrassed or ashamed about something. There is a certain sense of power that comes with being angry, and that powerful feeling makes them feel safe. But because there is a lot of energy involved in being angry, it is not an emotion that a lot of folk associate with being depressed.
People suffering from depression will eventually snap out of it.
There is a lot of stigma around mental illness, and despite how common depression is, that stigma is attached to it as well. People often hide their symptoms because they are ashamed, but this often leads to becoming even more depressed. Not talking about their illness can also lead to feelings of bitterness and resentment towards their loved ones. They get mad that no one notices their suffering, but unless they’re having a major depressive episode, it can be hard for the people around them to know without being told. Unlike the general feeling of sadness that comes and goes, depression doesn’t just go away. Being depressed is typically linked to profound loneliness, and many people start to feel hopeless because they think they will always feel that way. It can be hard to feel optimistic, especially if symptoms are being hidden or someone is afraid to ask for help. But there is always hope.
Depression is most effectively treated with a combination of therapy and medication. However, there are other ways to manage the symptoms if someone doesn’t have access to healthcare or are unsure if they want to take medication. There are many small changes that can be made that will help with depression. Eating well and trying not to skip meals, staying hydrated, going outside and socializing regularly are all things that can help manage depression. These might sound like extremely simple tasks, but they can be extremely challenging for someone struggling with depression. But managing to complete these tasks, even if it’s only one or two, has a significant positive impact on mental health over time.
No matter what path is chosen for the journey to better mental health, the climb out of depression will be a hard one. If you or a loved needs help managing the symptoms of depression, reach outto us. We can help you figure out the path you need.