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Facts and research have revealed that depression is actually more common than AIDS, Cancer or Diabetes. However, even though it’s a common and serious problem, many people don’t know that much about depression.

Depression affects over ten percent of the population, but there are still many misconceptions and myths about it. Prejudices arise against people who suffer from depression because of the stigma attached to mental disorders. In order to conquer depression, it’s important to be educated about certain truths regarding the disease. Thus, this week’s FYI decided to separate the Facts and Myths about Depression for Your Information.

MYTH: Depression isn’t a real illness
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. Depression is a mental illness that can be treated in multiple ways, including medication and psychotherapy, and it should not be considered normal unhappiness or simply ignored.

MYTH: It’s normal
FACT: 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: Antidepressants can always cure depression
FACT: Luckily, depression is a treatable disorder, but antidepressants alone are not typically enough. While these drugs have the ability to alter brain chemistry and fix deep-rooted biological problems, the treatment for depression may also include psychotherapy.
The solution to depression is not as easy as popping a pill, which may take as long as six weeks to kick in. Talk-therapy along with medication is often added to the treatment process.

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: It happens because of a sad situation
FACT: Depression is more than the occasional sad thought or unhappiness due to a death, breakup, or disappointment; although these events can lead to depression. Everyone experiences highs and lows in their lifetimes, but depression doesn’t always happen due to a specific negative event.
Depression is marked by unexplained periods of hopelessness, sadness, lethargy and suicidal tendencies. These episodes last for prolonged periods and can come suddenly and inexplicably, even when things in life appear positive.

MYTH: If your parents have it, so will you
FACT: Although there has been research to suggest that depression is hereditary, recent studies have called into question how significant genetics really is in determining your risk. While having a grandparent or parent with the disease does increase your risk, this is only a marginal increase.

It’s wise to be wary of your risk factors, but by no means does a parent with depression guarantee that you will suffer from it as well.