In this sad world we live in, depression is more common than AIDS, Cancer and Diabetes combined. Many people, especially Sri Lankans have severely misunderstood the concept of depression and suicide. Of late, most of them who are not suffering from depression, and some others who are in denial all believe the remedy of ‘just getting over it’, as if Depression is just another illness you can ‘just get over’. However, this week, For Your Information decided to touch upon this subject to shed some light on it.
MYTH: It’s just normal sadness
FACT: Many people mistakenly believe that depression is defined as a weakness of character or mere sadness. But depression is a complex disorder that has psychological, social, and biological origins. Everyone feels sad at different times about different things. Not just young people. But when we talk about depression, we’re talking about something that is much more serious than just being sad. It’s when a person feels a sadness which is so severe it interferes with everyday life, and causes symptoms such as loss of appetite, sleeping issues, loss of concentration and/or low energy levels. Depression also lasts longer than a bout of sadness. If the above symptoms last longer than two weeks, it’s likely that there’s something more serious going on.
MYTH: Talking it out is enough to treat depression
FACT: Yes, talking helps but when it comes to depression, things can be more complicated than that. Just like any other illness, depression requires treatment from professionals to deal with the cause and symptoms of the illness. Talking about depression with a trusted friend or family member may help in the short term to feel better, but the seriousness of depression shouldn’t be ignored. Doctors, counsellors, and psychologists can all provide treatments and self-management strategies which your family can’t.
MYTH: You Can ‘Snap Out’ of It
FACT: Depression is a serious health condition, and no one chooses to be depressed. People mistakenly think that depression is merely a result of a person wallowing in their grief or sadness and can be cured by thinking positively and making a change in one’s attitude. Depression is not a sign of weakness, laziness, or self-pity. It is a medical condition, arising from errors in brain chemistry, function, and structure due to environmental or biological factors.
MYTH: Having depression means you’re weak
FACT: The belief that depression is a side effect of weakness is a harmful misconception. If you think about it, it doesn’t make much logical sense. Depression is an illness, in the same way diabetes, or MS is an illness. But people with physical illnesses aren’t blamed for their conditions the way people with mental illnesses are.
Depression can affect different kinds of people, even those that are traditionally considered ‘strong’, or appear to have no obvious reasons in their lives to be depressed. The connection between weakness and depression is one that makes it difficult for people to get the help they need. That’s why it’s important to break down the stigma around mental illness and reinforce the fact that depression, and other mental illnesses, aren’t the result of being weak.