Depression, or Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), affects 1 in 17 people in Singapore at some point in their lives. Despite its prevalence, only few seek help as they are afraid of the social stigma or labels attached to it.
Human beings fear the unknown. Because we lack knowledge on mental illnesses, we fear, have negative feelings and stigmatize mental illnesses.
This is why it is very important to educate the society and heighten their awareness about how serious depression is. Through understanding, we can help build a more supportive environment, where depressed individuals feel safe to share their experiences and seek for treatment.
Below are 4 common myths about depression, and let’s debunk them through this article!
MYTH #1: DEPRESSION IS NOT A REAL ILLNESS
Many people may think that depression is “imaginary” and that it happens only in the person’s head.
Depression is a real illness that affects a person’s thoughts, physiology and behavior. Just like any other clinical illnesses, we can treat depression, and it can be most effectively managed if detected early.
Treatment options include counseling from qualified professionals, medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the above options. You cannot think yourself into depression – it is a real illness that cannot be thought up into reality or be wished away at will.
MYTH #2: DEPRESSION IS SOMETHING YOU CAN SNAP OUT OF
To have choice is to be able to will something or make decisions. But depression does not have a switch that you can turn on or off whenever you wish to. Much like cardiovascular diseases, without proper treatment, depressed individuals are unable to recover on their own.
MYTH #3: DEPRESSION IS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS
Contrary to popular belief, being depressed is unrelated to someone’s strength or character.
It’s a combination of:
- biological (i.e., genetic predispositions and neurological imbalances),
- social (i.e., dysfunctional family), and
- psychological factors (i.e., stress).
If more people understand and accept it as serious, then more depressed individuals will dare to speak up and seek treatment. Because now they won’t fear being labeled as weak, incompetent or dangerous.
MYTH #4: DEPRESSED AND MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE ARE DANGEROUS
According to the National Survey conducted, 50% of the Singapore population felt that they should be protected from people with mental illnesses, because they felt that the mentally ill pose a danger to them.
However, the mentally ill are rarely dangerous or violent – these are just extreme media portrayals. Depressed individuals can be as capable as everyone else. Therefore, all they need is for us to support and believe in them. Because they are equally as artistic, intelligent and fit for work. They should not be discriminated due to their mental illness.
Depression is more than just feeling sad. Because it affects your overall functioning negatively, making individuals experience prolonged feelings of sadness and emptiness that does not seem to go away no matter how much they try. This is a matter that you must not take lightly.
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