One of the most common and insidious issues that counselors deal with is that of depression. Sometimes it is really hard to recognize and at other times obvious but challenging to treat. There are times when it is very deep, but temporary as opposed to less significant, but pervasive.
Here are some myths and truths about depression that can help you to navigate through the muddy waters, largely borrowed from Web MD.
Myths about depression:
- Hard work beats depression. Overwork is often a sign of depression, rather than a cure – especially in men.
- It’s not a real illness. Depression affects nearly one in six people and can be a serious illness. It is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.
- Depression is just self-pity. People that suffer from clinical depression are not lazy or weak. It is a medical condition that affects the brain.
- Help means drugs for life. Some studies have shown that “talk therapy” can be as effective for mild to moderate depression, however moving through the depression can often be accelerated by medications. It may only be needed temporarily – a bridge across. For deeper depression medications are necessary, but still may not be a lifelong need.
- Depressed people cry a lot. That is not always true. Some depressed people do not seem sad. They may just emotionally withdraw or suffer feelings of worthlessness or act out in anger.
- Depression is part of aging. Most older people actually do quite fine, but depression can be overlooked because the symptoms are somewhat different. Aches and pains increase, food is not so appealing, interest in activities is diminished.
- Talking makes things worse. Actually it is just the opposite. Sharing the burden is part of the solution. That is why therapy works.
- Teens are unhappy by nature. Teens often are moody, irritable and argumentative – but not depressed. If moods of sadness last over two weeks it might be good to check it out. Statistically, one in eleven teens develops depression.
- Depression is hard to treat. Occasionally depression is treatment resistant, but over 70% of people treated with medications alone eventually became symptom free -- and an even higher percentage when combined with therapy.
Facts about depression:
1. Men fly under the radar. Men don’t tend to talk about their feelings and are often more difficult to diagnose. They are more likely to act out depression in anger, irritability, or restlessness -- and “self- medicate” by drinking, and other reckless behaviors.
2. Anyone can get depressed. Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression – but that is because they are most likely to seek help and to admit feelings.
3. It can sneak up slowly. Depression can be progressive – an increase in symptoms over a long period of time. It can also be a chronic low-level malaise that sucks the life out of your work and relationships.
4. Family history is not destiny. You may have an elevated risk based on family history, but it is not a sentence for life. Managing life stressors and getting counseling when needed will often hold it at bay.
5. Depression imitates dementia. In older adults confusion, memory problems and occasionally even delusions can be the result of depression and can often be misdiagnosed as dementia.
6. Positive thinking may help. Getting a hold of our negative self-talk and taking our thoughts captive in prayer and meditation may have a very positive effect. See Philippians 4:8
7. Exercise is good medicine. Moderately intense exercise, especially in community or with friends is very helpful to combat the symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
8. It’s not always depression. Sometimes it really is just grief, sadness and disappointment from negative life events. If the sadness from these events does not eventually lift but becomes chronic in nature, then it is time to check for depression.
9. Hope for better days is real. Remember that it is hard to feel hopeful when caught in the clutches of depression. But depression is treatable and coping skills can be acquired.
If you or a loved one is either suffering from depression or unsure if you are – please get help. Better days are yet to come.
You might want to check this out:
You might want to check this out: