Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses. We likely have someone in our life that has experienced depression, or have even experienced it ourselves. Despite its prevalence, there are still many misconceptions about it. Here are a few of the most common myths about depression.
Myth #1: “Depression is an emotional state”
Many people are not familiar with the wide range of symptoms of depression that people can experience. Depression is frequently stereotyped as sadness, low mood, and crying – usually showcasing the presence of strong emotions. One common myth is that, while the presence of strong emotion is true in many cases, its presentation is not simply emotional. Depression also takes a great physical toll on someone. A depressive episode is characterized by someone experiencing multiple of the following symptoms:
- Feelings of sadness or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite or weight unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech that are observable by others
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
This is a good reminder that depression is more significant than a passing mood state. Aches, pains, headaches, cramps, and digestive problems are examples of common physical ailments that may present during a depressive episode. Getting professional help from medical and mental health professionals is essential to successfully treat depression and its symptoms.
Myth #2: “Depression is a choice”
Considering the severity and impact of the symptoms, depression is not a choice. Unfortunately, there are many narratives, beliefs, and messages that circulate our culture that say you can simply choose to stop experiencing or feeling a certain way. “Choosing happiness” isn’t always the case for someone. If you can “choose” happiness and that has a significant impact on your mood, chances are you don’t have clinical depression. Hearing phrases such as “just snap out of it”, “look on the bright side”, and “someone else has it worse” are not helpful for patients with clinical depression.
It’s clear that there is a lack of understanding about depression and someone’s unwillingness to tolerate uncomfortable emotions. However, positivity can be a temporarily helpful skill. Thinking of things that make you happy or taking some time to reflect upon the things that you are grateful for, can potentially get someone experiencing depression by distracting them and helping them feel better momentarily. Utilizing positive thinking or reframing thoughts can be a helpful skill, but these skills alone are not enough to cure or fully treat Major Depressive Disorder. Again, getting help from an expert in the mental health field is the safest way to begin a recovery journey.
Myth #3: “Eating better can get you out of a depressive episode”
Some studies show that diet can have an impact on the risk of depression. Ensuring there are ample amounts of vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, legumes, and healthy fats may be helpful in decreasing the risk of depression. However, it is critical to note that food alone can not treat or cure depression itself. What will successfully help someone overcome their depression is to get the necessary professional help from a psychotherapist or psychiatrist.
Treating Depression With TMS Therapy
Taking the time to learn how you or your loved one experiences depression is important. The many ways depression presents itself may vary slightly from person to person and can be a vital part of understanding how to address and treat depression. A great treatment option that is covered by most major insurances, is FDA-cleared and is side-effect, medication and pain free is TMS therapy. TMS is a brain stimulation treatment that places magnetic coils on the forehead. These coils send targeted magnetic impulses that stimulate nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex, specifically the left prefrontal cortex, as this area is often responsible for controlling mood. Research and clinical trials show that these impulses have a positive impact on neurotransmitters in the brain that ultimately decrease symptoms of depression for an extended period of time.
This blog post is meant to be educational in nature and does not replace the advice of a medical professional. See full disclaimer.
American Psychiatric Association. (n.d.-c). What Is Depression? Retrieved September 1, 2020, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression
Ljungberg, T., Bondza, E., & Lethin, C. (2020). Evidence of the Importance of Dietary Habits Regarding Depressive Symptoms and Depression. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(5), 1616. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051616
National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.-b). NIMH » Depression. Retrieved September 1, 2020, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml.