With mental health awareness on the rise, more and more people are paying attention to their psychological well-being and getting diagnoses and treatments. According to WHO, the second most common mental disorder is depression, with approximately five percent of the world's adult population suffering from one of its forms. It has long been deemed the epidemic of the 21st century. However, it is still considered an ambiguous topic, with many believing common misconceptions about it. Rumors dominate the world of psychological self-help at the moment, covering the truth under a heavy fog of guesses, stereotypes, and misunderstandings. So, to demystify some of the most common delusions about depression, it is essential to understand what it's like for a depressed person to exist in the current world.
There are, of course, many levels of severity and types of depression, which include clinical, seasonal, psychotic, and so on. Patient Health Questionaire-9 (PHQ-9), combined with an informal assessment of your overall health condition by a GP, is used to determine whether or not a patient is affected by one of these. Although these methods have been proven accurate by many professionals in the industry, depression remains hard to identify and treat, above all due to patients' refusal to open up about sensitive topics. The generally hostile attitude of the public towards mental healthcare is one of the reasons it is so hard for people to take their condition seriously and ask for help.
Despite the world growing and evolving every day faster than ever, some remain biased towards psychotherapy and depression. It is considered embarrassing to talk about and deemed a weakness of character. However, the inability to ask for treatment can lead to dangerous consequences such as suicide. It is undoubtedly hard to change the mentality of those taught to toughen up no matter what, to accept and respect something they can't see, feel, or touch. Everyone willing to learn the truth about it should start by understanding what they are getting wrong. Here are a few things:
- Depression is not a medical condition.
Like cancer or pneumonia, it has symptoms, causes, and consequences if untreated. Similarly, it can be diagnosed. Some of the most common symptoms of depression include a) apathy, b) pressing and regularly reappearing feelings of tiredness, sadness, and hopelessness, c) irritability, d) sleep disturbances, e) loss of appetite, f) extreme food cravings, g) concentration problems, h) lack of joy from normally pleasurable activities, i) loss of interest in hobbies, j) and thoughts of death. Most of these can seem normal and therefore are usually overlooked. However, disregarding the symptoms can cause severe problems in day-to-day activities and lead to serious problems in one's social and professional life, which are hard to recover from. It is crucial to remember that even if most of these seem normal from an outside perspective, people with depression struggle. The fact that one's body isn't physically affected doesn't mean the problem doesn't exist or isn't severe enough.
- Depression is sadness.
Emotions are a broad spectrum. For people with depression, it is still the case. They experience sadness in the same way they experience happiness, agitation, excitement, and pleasure. Depending on the severity of one's condition, the duration of these emotions may vary. The prevalence of negative emotions distinguishes a depressed person from a healthy one. One must also realize that feeling and seeming joyful are two separate things. Even if everything is going well for someone and their life is perfect, it may not be so in reality. Remember that we always see the tip of the iceberg only.
- Living is easy.
We meet many passersby every day. Every single one of them with a personal history and struggles we will never learn of. Still, the fact that we don't know them inside out doesn't make them disappear. Equally, it doesn't make their experiences less valid. Depression isn't visible, nor can one identify a suffering person in the crowd. But all those people are fighting to be in that crowd every second. Every day is a battle, and their minds are battlefields. Even simply walking around, picking up groceries from a local convenience store, or using public transport can be an extremely challenging thing to do for someone with depression.
- Therapy is a scam.
Snapping out of it isn't an option. Just like a physical illness, it doesn't go away with time through self-care, mindful walks, or regular exercise. It requires severe treatment and sometimes even medications to ease symptoms. Most commonly, depression is treated through talking therapy or counseling, antidepressants, or a combination of both. Some people may even need to be admitted into a hospital's psychiatric unit for immediate help. Besides, it may be much easier to talk to a stranger than a relative or a friend about one's problems. Primarily if these are directly related to the person,one is talking to. Being able to release all emotions, negative or positive, without anyone judging is as essential as understanding them. Therapy also becomes a source of strength where one learns ways and mechanisms to cope with overpowering emotions outside the GP's cabinet.
- Depression is a call for attention.
This one isn't entirely wrong. In a way, it draws outsiders' attention to the complex environment in which depressed person finds themselves. A lot of the time, it also showcases flaws in one's relationship with them and forces to consider ways to improve. Depression happens at the brink of being entirely unsatisfied with one's life. It is a cry for help from within one's consciousness that is otherwise hard to express. So yes, it is a call for attention, but at the same time, it's not something people come up with on purpose to become the center of it. It's uncontrollable. It is not a malicious deed to force everyone around to care for, nurture, and love someone.
The population's general attitude towards mental illnesses prevents activists from fully conveying their point about acceptance and respect for people suffering from them. Suppose it is talked about enough, and the information reaches enough open-minded people. In that case, it is possible to turn the culture around and give suffering people a hand at accepting and loving themselves no matter what. It is crucial to stay open to new information and be compassionate towards any problem one might have, be it physical or mental.
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