Although depression has a long history with humankind and is quite prevalent across cultures, there are still many people who have no idea what it means to have depression. Some people believe that being depressed is something you choose to do, and that you can stop at any time. However, there is a big difference between being depressed and having depression. Depression is the number one cause of disability in the United States in people between 15 and 44 years old. In fact, over 350 million people all over the world suffer from depression. Anyone can be depressed for a short time for many reasons such as a significant life event like divorce or breaking up, loss of a job, or a fight with a friend, but have a major depressive episode is a whole separate thing.
Are You Depressed or Do You Have Depression?
Depression is a mental health disorder, not just a fleeting feeling, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 15 million adults in the United States, or 7% of the population, have been affected by this condition. It is more common than diabetes, cancer, and AIDS combined. Everyone knows what it feels like to be sad or depressed, but depression is a condition that lasts for more than two weeks and affects many different areas, if not all, of your life. Some of the symptoms include:
- Sadness that lasts longer than two weeks
- Chronic aches and pains
- Difficulty making decisions
- Weight loss or gain
- Decreased or increased appetite
- Severe fatigue
- Trouble concentrating
- Losing interest in favorite activities
- Fixating on things that have gone wrong
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Irritability in adolescents and acting out in children
Facts and Fiction About Depression
Although depression is common, it is still not completely understood. There are those professionals who believe depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, genetics, hormonal imbalance, or a comorbidity with another illness. There are many other misconceptions and myths about depression.
Only Weak People Get Depressed
Anyone can become depressed. Regardless of family background, financial status, living situation, and so many other factors, depression is seen at every socioeconomic class and across all cultures. The misconception that depressed people are weak may come from the false idea that it’s just another emotion that can be overcome with willpower. Depression is an equal opportunity disorder and nobody is immune.
Depression is an Excuse to Be Lazy
There is nothing lazy about having depression. In fact, those who have depression would give just about anything to be able to get up and live a normal life like others. The symptoms of depression such as lack of motivation, lethargy, and less energy may seem like laziness to those who do not know what is really going on. However, if someone you know who is normally energetic and happy suddenly becomes withdrawn and uninterested in doing things they usually like to do, you might consider asking them speak to a online mental health therapist.
Only Adults Can Get Depression
False! Depression affects one out of every five teenagers in the United States. Even though the median age of onset is 32 years old, teen depression has risen dramatically over the past decade. Things to note are that depression can manifest as irritability, social isolation, and rebellion in teenagers.
There is No Cure for Depression
If you are suffering with a severe recurrent depressive disorder, you may need to continue with several treatments for the rest of your life just to manage the symptoms. However, in many cases, therapy and medication can be very effective and you may not have to have any more medication or treatment for the rest of your life.
The main thing to remember is that if you or someone you know is depressed, you should talk to someone right away, and/or think and look for positive things to reflect on. The sooner you get help, the faster you can start feeling like yourself.