5 Common Misconceptions About Depression

We’ve all heard the common health-related misconceptions or myths-- chocolate causes acne, carrots will improve your night vision, and cracking your knuckles gives you arthritis. Subscribing to these particular myths is relatively harmless, but other health-related misconceptions can have far more serious consequences. This is the case for depression—the myths surrounding it can prevent people from getting the help they need. Because untreated depression can have a serious physical and psychological impact, it’s imperative to have the right information in order to make the best decisions for yourself and for your health. Here are 5 common misconceptions about depression, and the facts behind them.

Depression can make someone feel like they aren’t strong enough, determined enough, or smart enough to just feel better. Dr. William Sauvé, Regional Medical Director for Greenbrook TMS NeuroHealth Centers in Virginia, says that the “pull yourself up by your boostraps” mentality comes from the misguided feeling of “People believing that they should be able to "make themselves" feel better. People feel ashamed of depression because they can't believe they can't snap themselves out of itand that's part of the illness. The myth is caused by the illness and perpetuated by those who haven't had depression.”

Everyone gets sad sometimes, and life events such as losing a loved one or a job can lead to a period of grief. However, depression isn‘t just sadness. Instead, it’s a number of persistent symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue or decreased energy
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Insomnia
  • Changes in weight from decreased or increased appetite
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Loss of interest in activities

One key to differentiating between a natural response to an upsetting event and depression is the severity of symptoms and how long the symptoms have been ongoing. If you have any concerns that you may be experiencing depression, reach out to a medical professional for help.

Some people with depression do experience remission with antidepressants, but that isn’t always the case. If you’ve felt that your antidepressants aren’t working as well as you’d like, you’re not alone. Statistically, most people are less likely to get relief from each successive antidepressant that they try. For others, the side effects can be difficult to handle. Dr. Misty Borst, Medical Director for the Greenbrook TMS NeuroHealth Center in Columbia, says among prescription medications, “A common issue is sexual side effects. If people are having sexual side effects, they generally don’t end up staying on the medication. Another one is weight concerns, which can be difficult to tolerate. Patients also often tell me on antidepressants they feel kind of fuzzy or off they feel “not right” in a way they’re very aware of.” If your prescription medication isn’t working or is causing you unwanted side effects, Greenbrook TMS Therapy is a non-medication option for depression treatment.

For some, depression can be linked to a trauma such as abuse, loss, or hardship. For others, there are risk factors that can increase the likelihood of a person developing depression, including:

  • Chronic medical illness, such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease
  • Disability
  • Social Isolation
  • Personal or family history of depression
  • Use of certain medications
  • Brain disease
  • Misuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Stressful life events such as loss of a spouse, divorce, or taking care of someone with a chronic illness

But the perception that something bad “must have” happened in order for someone to have depression leads to some people feeling guilty that they’re struggling with their mental health even if nothing is really wrong in their lives. In some cultures, there’s also a stigma that someone with depression must have “done something to deserve it.” The truth is that depression can affect anyone and does not discriminate across gender, racial, or socioeconomic lines.

If depression manifested itself exactly how it’s depicted in movies and television shows, no one would ever see people who have depression. They would only stay at home in bed, sleeping all day and unable to accomplish anything. The truth is that a lot of people –doctors, engineers, retail workers, teachers—have depression and still continue to go to work everyday and function even though they’re finding little joy in it and are lacking the same energy that others have. So-called “high functioning depression” is a colloquialism for depression that doesn’t preclude a person from being a high achiever. This kind of depression often goes unnoticed and undiagnosed, sometimes leading to tragedy for those who seemingly “have it all.” This is why it’s critical to recognize the signs of depression in ourselves and others.

If you’ve heard any of these depression myths, know that you’re not alone and that it’s possible to get the help that you need. If you’ve been struggling with depression and medication hasn’t helped, Greenbrook TMS Therapy may be an option for you.

If Covid-19 and social isolation are heightening your symptoms of depression, Greenbrook TMS therapy may be able to help. At Greenbrook, we specialize in TMS therapy — an FDA-cleared, non-invasive treatment for treatment-resistant depression and OCD without harmful side effects. See if TMS therapy is right for you by clicking here to take a brief assessment:

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