Depression, one of the most common mental health problems, affects around 5% of the world's population. This figure is probably higher owing to unreported cases. In the United States, around 20.78% of people (roughly 50 million) deal with mental health issues, with 8.4% (approximately 21 million) having major depression.
This post will debunk the top five misconceptions about depression, examine why stigma persists despite increased access to knowledge, and recommend solutions to counteract bias and assist individuals with depression.
Misconceptions About Depression
Misunderstandings about depression can be harmful. Let's clear the air on these myths to tackle the stigma surrounding this condition.
Depression is Just a Bad Mood
One common misconception regarding depression is that it is only a brief period of sadness or unhappiness that will pass on its own. The fact is that depression is a tricky, persistent mental health illness that involves more than simply everyday emotional ups and downs. It causes constant helplessness, poor energy, and a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities. To adequately address depression, one might need professional help.
Depression is a Sign of Weakness
Another common misconception is that sadness implies weakness or an inability to control oneself. That is just false. Depression is a medical condition caused by various factors, such as your genes, how your brain functions, and events in your life.
You Can Just 'Snap Out of It
Depression is not an option. Some people mistakenly assume that you can overcome it by just shifting your focus away from your feelings or adjusting your attitude.
However, depression is not a result of feeling sorry for yourself, being weak, or not striving hard enough. It's a medical disorder that occurs when your brain's chemistry, function, and structure are disrupted by factors such as your surroundings or your body's activities. You should get medical attention if you believe you are suffering from this.
Only Traumatic Life Events Cause Depression
Difficult and unfortunate eventualities, (such as losing a loved one, trauma, divorce, or feeling alone, can often precipitate depression. Stressful conditions, such as chronic pain or health issues like diabetes, can also contribute to it. However, depression can occur for no apparent reason.
Surprisingly, things people believe would enhance their mood might make it worse. Certain drugs and substance abuse, especially alcohol, might, for example, induce or aggravate depression. It is a mistake to dismiss someone's depression because they have not had a severe trauma. It may even aggravate their condition.
Children and Adolescents Can't Experience Depression
Although they could display it differently than adults, children and teenagers can also grapple with mental health issues. The slight difference is that instead of showing overt signs of depression, they could appear irritable, angry, or lonesome.
Anxiety and depression among children and adolescents rose by 27% and 24%, respectively, from 2016 to 2019, even before the COVID-19 epidemic. Around 5.6 million children (9.2%) and 2.4 million (4.0%), respectively, had anxiety and depression diagnoses in 2020. Parents, teachers, and other caregivers should be familiar with the common signs and symptoms of mental health issues such as depression and be ready to provide the necessary help and guidance.
Why Are So Many Stigmas Attached to Mental Health And Mental Health Therapy?
The prevalence of stigmas that society associates with mental illness and mental health treatment prompts essential questions regarding these misconceptions' root origins and implications.
Lack of Education
Most people just aren't aware of the signs, causes, frequency, and remedies of mental illness. This lack of grasp of mental issues contributes to poor perceptions of mental illnesses and those who endure them.
Issues related to mental health are taboo in certain cultures, resulting in a lack of open dialogue and support. These cultures may prohibit discussions about mental health matters, making it difficult for people to seek treatment or even admit that they are struggling. This lack of knowledge and communication can perpetuate stigma and stymie progress toward improved mental health care.
Our culture has preconceived notions about mental illness and how it affects the people in question. These false notions are also greatly perpetuated by the media. It frequently occurs in TV shows and movies that people with mental health issues are nasty, criminals, destructive, or crazy, or there is a link between mental illness and violence.
Mental health has a history of being treated as a moral failing, leading to a long-standing stigma that's hard to eradicate. People suffering from mental illnesses have had to contend with their disease and unwarranted judgments and misconceptions regarding these ailments.
For a long time, folks suffering from mental illnesses were isolated from society, confined in dark and terrifying locations, and maltreated. The worst phase was the Nazi period when the Nazi administration killed or prevented many people with mental health problems from having children.
What We Can Do As a Society to Decrease Mental Health Stigma that Still Exists
Everyone can contribute to a society that values equality, promotes mental health, and facilitates healing. You could be helping by:
● If you have ever had a mental illness, sharing your story can help dispel misconceptions and encourage others to do the same. Nobody should be ashamed of or avoid talking about mental illness.
● Thoroughly educating yourself on mental health and disseminating that knowledge to friends, family, workplace, and school peers.
● Making friendships with people who have struggled with mental health and accepting them for who they are outside their circumstances.
● Treating those who have mental health concerns with respect and kindness, without prejudice or judgment.
● Using language that focuses on the individual over the disease, such as "a person with depression" rather than "that person is depressed."
● Speaking out when you overhear inaccurate or stereotyped remarks regarding mental health in the community.
In conclusion, it's critical to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatments of depression and other mental health issues. Challenging false beliefs enables us to build a kinder and more enlightened community. By dismantling prejudices and disseminating knowledge, we create a space where people feel strong enough to get assistance for their mental health difficulties.