“Depression” can be a scary word. We might picture a big, intimidating monster, or a black hole. It can be hard to know what to say to someone with depression, and harder to care for yourself if you are struggling with your own mental health.
Yet while depression is much more common than we realize–about 3.8% of all people have clinical depression worldwide–it’s also not a monster lurking around the corner. Understanding depression is the first step to de-stigmatize it, and helping you (and the ones you love) find support.
Read on as we debunk some of the most common myths about depression.
5 common myths about depression:
Depression isn’t real, or “you’re just being dramatic”
Depression is a very real medical illness. Yes, you read that right, a medical illness. If you’re suffering from depression, you’re not just being dramatic. For various reasons, your brain and/or body aren’t functioning as they normally would. And in some cases, depression is actually caused by medical conditions (such as a deficiency or disease) and requires medical interventions. That’s why it’s important to see a professional if you think you’re suffering from depression–you’re absolutely not overreacting.
Depression is just feeling really sad
One of the most common myths about depression. While depression and sadness may go hand in hand, they’re not the same thing. When we think of sadness, we generally are referring to feelings of loss or grief. Grief generally comes in waves of ups and downs–depression feels more like a constant down. Grief usually focuses on the event of loss and doesn’t pummel your self-esteem–depression can lead to feelings of self-loathing or worthlessness. You may feel both grief and depression at the same time, but they are two separate psychological experiences.
Depression can be cured by more socialization
You’ve heard this one throughout COVID. “Just go be around people,” “You need to get out more,” “You’re just isolated.” And while isolation can definitely contribute to feelings of depression, the opposite can also be true. Especially if you have social anxiety, a common companion of depression. Simply increasing the volume of people around you isn’t a cure-all. But having supportive relationships does help! A recent study has shown that frequent, high-quality social interactions may protect against feelings of loneliness and depression, and may be an important factor in recovery.
Depression is only caused by trauma
Sure, traumatic events can be an initial trigger. But the many myths about depression that only trauma is what triggers it isn’t true at all. There’s no “trauma level” required to receive the “I have depression” badge in life. You can have depression without experiencing a big-T trauma at all. We actually undermine our recovery by comparing our journeys to others when we say we “don’t have it that bad.” Depression can be caused by a number of factors, outside of trauma. Brain chemical changes, genetics, life transitions, loss, hormones (here’s looking at you postpartum depression), and even the change in seasons can cause clinical depression.
Depression means you’re weak, “or just need to get over it”
Again, depression is a medical illness. Yet this myth about weakness is common, especially if:
- You are dealing with depression for the first time, because the sensation itself may be unfamiliar.
- You’re watching a loved one experience it, and it’s scary.
- You’ve heard that Christian depression doesn’t exist, we should just trust God more.
But having more strength isn’t the opposite of depression. Just as deep faith isn’t the opposite of depression (take a peek at the book of Job, or many of the Psalms of David!). Depression isn’t a choice or a weakness, it’s a persistent experience. And while things like exercise and avoiding alcohol have been proven to help, it can be hard to actually do helpful things when you’re depressed. One of the biggest symptoms of depression is a complete lack of energy or motivation.
Maybe this is a silly example, but if you broke both your legs, and you had to walk to the hospital to fix them, it would be pretty hard to “get over” your two broken legs in order to get there. Depression is not caused by weakness or a lack of faith.
You’ll be depressed forever
Good news–even though it’s scary, depression is one of the most highly treatable mental disorders. Between 80%-90% of people with depression eventually respond well to treatment. The type of treatment may look different for everyone, whether that’s through medication, therapy, or lifestyle changes. No matter what, talking with a trained professional is important.
FIND A CHRISTIAN THERAPIST
Research shows that much of the change people experience during their time in therapy is because they felt heard and understood by their therapist–that their therapist “got them” and that the guidance they gave was relevant and applicable. Because of this, it is critical that you find a therapist whom you can connect with, whom you feel comfortable with, whom you feel “gets you.” Therefore, we encourage you to take a few minutes to read a little about each one of our therapists. If you prefer to look at the counselors nearest to you, please click the office location buttons below. Otherwise, you can meet with any of our Christian Counselors online from the comfort of your own home. If you have questions about any of them, please contact us!