Depression is one of the most pervasive mental disorders in the United States. According to the ADAA (Anxiety & Depression Association of America), major depressive disorder affects more than 15 million Americans (6.7% of the population) in any given year. The ADAA also states that depression is the leading cause of disability for adults ages 15-44 in the U.S.
Despite this massive prevalence, however, depression is largely misunderstood by the general population. As your experienced online counselor in Michigan, I am here to clear up a few common misconceptions about prominent mental illness.
All Depression Is The Same.
When most people refer to “depression,” they are thinking of major depressive disorder. However, there are various other kinds, such as seasonal affective disorder and postpartum depression. Dysthymia, or persistent depressive disorder, is another example. The symptoms of dysthymia are often less intense than those of major depressive disorder, but they may last for longer periods of time.
Depression Is Always The Result Of Trauma.
It’s true that traumatic life events can sometimes lead to depression, but it is not wise to assume that everyone who suffers from depression has suffered trauma of some kind. Depression can stem from any type of significant life change – not just traumatic events.
Depressed People Just Need To “Get Over It.”
It can be hard for someone who has never suffered from depression to grasp the true depth of a legitimate depression. However, depression isn’t like sadness, frustration, or other more temporary emotions. It is a mental illness. Those caught in depression can’t simply “shrug it off” or choose to “get over it” like people dealing with temporary negative emotions.
Depression Is The Same As Feeling Sad Or “Blue.”
Though sadness is often a symptom of depression, it is not the same thing. Sadness, even when temporarily all-consuming, is fleeting. It may last anywhere from several hours to a few days, but it is not depression. Chronic depression goes on for months or years at a time. People suffering from chronic depression may experience sadness, but they will likely also display various other symptoms such as apathy, anxiousness, or emptiness.
Only Women Get Depressed.
There is a sexist stigma in our culture that stereotypes women as being overly emotional and men as being out of touch with their emotions. Consequently, people tend to assume that women may be more susceptible to developing mental disorders such as depression. It is important to recognize that men can become depressed just as easily, but because they don’t want to be viewed as “less manly,” they may be more likely to try to mask their symptoms. This can become extremely dangerous, since they may consequently deny themselves the treatment and support they need.
Antidepressants Fix Everything
Antidepressants are types of medication that doctors commonly prescribe to patients suffering from depression. While they can be effective ways to mitigate the symptoms of depression, they are not necessarily a cure-all. Many professionals agree that the most effective way to combat depression is with a combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy. It is also important to recognize that it may take several weeks for you to see any benefits from antidepressants, as the body may take a while to acclimate to the medication.
Don’t Face Your Struggles Alone
If you are suffering from depression of some kind, it is important that you not isolate yourself. You do not have to face your challenges alone. Please don’t be concerned about being seen as “weak” if you seek help for your struggles – there is an immense bravery that comes from recognizing the need for assistance and reaching out to an online counselor or other resource.