There are many myths about depression that reside in the collective mind and most of the time they prevent people from finding real and effective solutions for depression. Although the symptoms of depression could differ from one patient to another, the depression will act the same way. You can compare depression with a snowball. It’s small and insignificant at first, but as it rolls down from the hill, it accumulates snow and grows bigger and bigger.
In the publication “The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Depression: Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to move through depression and create a life worth living.” from 2008, Robinson, P., & Strosahl, K. D. are describing the spiral of depression. This spiral includes negative moods, body sensations, negative thoughts, memories, and dysfunctional behaviors. The affective states included in this spiral talk about sadness, decreasing in the interests and the feeling of pleasure for activities that used to be enjoyable. But they also involve anxiety, irritability, apathy and the incapacity of feeling pleasure.
How is a depressed person feeling?
For those who never suffered from depression, it’s hard to understand how is a depressed person feeling. They mostly know what is depression is based on myths about depression. The depressed person will almost permanently create involuntarily negative thoughts and convictions. This negative mindset is related to self, to their accomplishes, the relationships they have and the world in general. What is very important is that their mind is creating a series of distortions such as perfectionism, exclusion of positive thoughts and events and an extreme mindset. They will think in life you can get all or nothing and no in between. What makes this disposition so hard to cope with is the habit or reminiscing sad scenes and failures from past and somber outcomes for the future.
The depressed person will believe at all times that something will go wrong or there is something wrong about their person. And this fuels this entire depression cycle. Through the mind of a depressed person will always circulate bad thoughts while they will exclude or ignore the good ones.
The behavior of someone who suffers from depression is mostly dysfunctional. They will always isolate themselves, sleep too much or at all, and abuse of medications or other substances. Most of the time, the patient will be less active and have less energy.
In the same publication from 2008, Robinson, P., & Strosahl, K. D. mentioned 6 common myths about depression and the scientific facts behind them.
Myths about depression
Depression represents an abnormal phenomenon
One of the myths about depression is the idea that if someone suffers from depression there is something wrong with him. But wrong in a bad way. However, statistically speaking, a big part of the planet’s population suffered from at least one depressive episode in their life. In a study from 2002, the statistics were affirming that 10% of the USA population suffered from depression. While in a more recent study from 2017, it’s confirmed that this number double over the years.
Depression is a sign that the patient is going through something challenging in his life. His coping mechanisms can’t fight back so they start to blame themselves. When they accept this challenge or situation they move on to changing something in their life.
Depression is an inevitable reaction to stress
According to statistics, only 25% of the people who were under stress and pressure became depressive. This high stress could mean a sudden change of position or the loss of someone close, but it can’t be blamed for the apparition of depression. You could say that depression is the accumulation of negative thoughts and feelings, but this is not the problem. The problem is how the person is choosing to react. Ignoring these signals and feelings can lead inevitably to depressive states.
Also, most of these coping mechanisms are taught by parents or close people. A child will see and mimic an angry parent who stops communicating, retreats from social life and creates negative thoughts. It’s not that they consciously chose to do this, but they don’t know how to react in a different way.
Depression is a negative affective state
Many think that depression is an active way of reacting like sadness or desperation. But in reality, depressed people are making considerable efforts to get rid of it. Sadness is normal when you meet a negative situation in life, a disease or an accident, but depression is not related to the outer world in a concrete way.
Depression is a biological illness
The same Robinson, P., & Strosahl, K. D. believe that including depression in the biological illness segment was promoted mostly by the ones who can benefit from the medication industry. For the psychiatrists, treating depression is more simple like this, they only write a recipe and avoid working with the patient.
Helping the depressive patient involves working with them on changing thinking patterns and lifestyle. Most of the time, interrupting the treatment means the relapse of depression because the coping style and lifestyle didn’t change.
It’s important for the patient to make changes in his life and mind. Although this belief is only 50% considered to be one of the myths about depression, alternative treatments should be also considered.
Anti-depressives are the best treatment for depression
Studies and the majority of cases prove that therapy is as effective as anti-depressives. More than this, therapy helps the remission of depression and to stop it from relapse. Meanwhile, a treatment based on anti-depressive will not guarantee relapse. A lot of people felt depression returning after interrupting treatment with anti-depressives.
Depression is a sickness
Many people believe you can develop depression the same way you catch a cold. Patients will develop habits that lead to depression long before the actual symptoms of depression appear. These behaviors are the retreat from social life, eating disorders, lack of leisure activities physical exercises and substances abuse.
This way of perceiving the problem is not meant to blame the subject. The same the patient induced depression through these patterns and behaviors, the same way they have to power to overcome it. It’s important to accept the situation, stop blaming themselves and look for ways to treat it.
It’s important to look at this problem having the right facts and not by believing certain misconceptions or myths about depression. Also, it’s important to ask for help when you feel that these negative thoughts start to sympathize you.
Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990: If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or stress as the result of a disaster, call this number to speak to someone.