Depression is a big problem in our society. People think that nowadays we have more of it, when in fact we do not. What we have is a distorted definition of happiness and depression.
Here are some myths about happiness and depression that make people feel even more depressed.
Myth 1: Happy people are happy at all the time
When I go over the happiness scale with my clients, many of them think that they are supposed to be happy all the time. I can understand how people with this distorted definition of happiness can feel depressed. Some of them say that on a scale of 1-100, a happy person feels 95 happy or even 100. Since 100 is a state of total excitement and bliss, we cannot experience the excitement if we are high all the time.
Human beings’ nervous system notices differences. Feeling just a little bit happier than before works just as well when you go from 32 to 35 as when you go from 62 to 65. So every day, focus on being just a little happier than you were yesterday.
Myth 2: Sadness is a form of depression
Sadness is a normal, healthy feeling. It is natural to feel sad and it is not the end of the world to feel sad. This distorted thought is common in environments where people say, “It’s so depressing” or “I’m totally depressed” when things are not happening the way they expects them to.
It is better to say, “It makes me sad” or “This is so disappointing” to describe sadness correctly. It is better to avoid identity-level statements, which start with “I am”, and choose situational statements, like “This makes me feel”, to overcome this distorted thought.
Myth 3: Depression is genetic
The idea of having a genetic disposition towards depression only takes away your power. This thought of “It is genetic. Carved in stone. I Can’t do anything about it” only increases the feeling of helplessness and increases the depression (if any).
Genetic tendencies are there, but we can change them by working on our mindset. The proof is that two children in the same house are not the same in their attitude, so let go of this belief. It is depressing (get it?).
Myth 4: Depression is caused by chemical imbalance in the brain
Sure, there must be some chemical imbalance that causes depression. PMS, giving birth, menopause and various medications are only some of the chemical changes that increase depression and it is a good idea to check for them.
However, it is good to understand that the food you eat, the thoughts you have, the air you breathe, the quality of your life and the people you spend time with also change your chemical balance. The good news is that you can control these things.
Myth 5: Depression is all in your head
Much like the distorted belief that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, it is not true to say that depression is “all in the head”, which implies that the person’s mindset and thoughts can contribute to depression.
Again, menopause is not caused by a change of thoughts, but by a drop in the levels of some essential hormones in the body. So, it is probably a combination of mindset and biology.
See your doctor, consult a dietician, research things that may be affecting you and experiment.
Myth 6: Depression is a woman’s disease
Women report having depression twice as often as men do. However, men tend to hide their depression.
Depression has no gender. Only the strategies to cope with it are different.
Myth 7: Antidepressants are the cure for depression
Antidepressants can help in some cases and make things worse in others. We all like the idea of the tablet that cures us and we do not take into consideration that if the situation is caused by a trauma that was never dealt with or a distorted mindset, the tablet is not going to change that.
More importantly, antidepressants are designed to “take the edge off” and allow you to sort out your emotions. As many people find out, taking them long term is a mistake.
Myth 8: Being diagnosed with depression labels you for the rest of your life
It is just like saying that being diagnosed with the Flu will label you for the rest your life. Depression is a mental illness. You can cure it with whatever you choose to cure it with – tablets, mind gym, happiness training, etc – and it is gone.
Does it mean it will never come back? No! It may come back, for example when your immune system is low, but if it does come back, you can do whatever worked for you before to make it go away again.
Myth 9: Love can cure depression
Again, we wish!
Love can help a person who is feeling depressed. Unconditional love can help cure us of everything, but it is not the cure!
Again, if my child had the flu, can I cure him with love? I am working on it, but I am not there yet… Love helps, but is not the cure. You must take charge of your life to get rid of depression!
Myth 10: Telling someone will make it go away
It will not! “Sharing” your feelings is just a figure of speech. When we are feeling depressed, we cannot hand our feelings over to others when we telling them.
It is good to tell someone how we feel so we do not feel lonely, isolated or ashamed. Depression is heavy and hiding it only makes things harder. We can ease our load by talking to someone we trust, but it does not make the depression go away.
It is important to note the difference between a friend and a professional. Talking to a friend may make us feel lighter for a while, but to get rid of depression, it is best to get professional help.
Myth 11: Asking for help makes you look weak
In fact, you will be weaker and weaker if you do not get help. Depression does not disappear on its own. You do not get up in the morning one day and it is gone, just like you do not go to sleep and wake up a millionaire. You have to do something to help yourself!
If you find it hard to seek help, use self-help books to help yourself. There is a type of therapy called Bibliotherapy, which is almost “reading yourself better”. Not everyone can do it, but it is better than doing nothing.
Depression is not a death sentence. It is a long-term sadness that comes with a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness about the future. Everyone can get through it towards a happy and fulfilling life and if we want to reduce the rate of depression in the world, we need to sort out the distorted ideas about what it is and what it is not.
If you believe any of these myths and you feel depressed, remember, the first step in overcoming depression is changing its definition.