1 in 17 people in Singapore languished Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) at some point in their lives. Despite its prevalence, only a few people seek help because they are afraid of the social stigma or labels that can be placed on them.
We as human beings fear the unknown. Hence, the lack of adequate knowledge on mental illnesses lead to increase in fear, negative sentiments, and social stigma.
This is why, it is very important to educate society and heighten awareness about how serious depression is. Understanding depression will help build a more empathetic and supportive environment wherein depressed individuals will feel safe to share their experiences and seek treatment.
MYTH #1: IT 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, depression is highly treatable and is most effectively managed if it is detected early. Some treatment options include counseling from qualified professionals, pharmacology, other forms of psychotherapy or a combination of the aforementioned. You cannot think yourself into depression – it is a real illness that cannot be thought or wished away.
MYTH #2: IT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU CAN SNAP OUT OF.
Depression is not a switch that you can turn on or off whenever you wish to. Choice implies a sense of will and decision. Hence, much like cardiovascular diseases, without proper treatment, depressed individuals are unable to recover on their own.
MYTH #3: IT IS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS.
Contrary to popular belief, depression 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). Depression is a real handicap! If more people understand and accept its serious nature, more depressed individuals will dare to speak up and seek treatment without fear of 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 the mentally ill pose a danger to them.
However, the mentally ill are rarely dangerous or violent – these are just extreme media portrayals. People with depression have it in them to be as capable as everyone else. All they need is for us to support and believe in them. 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. It affects your overall functioning negatively. Also, it is experiencing prolonged feelings of sadness and emptiness that does not seem to go away no matter how much you try. This is a matter that you must not take lightly.
This article was first seen at Miss Psychobabble. Miss Psychobabble or Anna Agoncillo is a Psychology honors graduate, a writer, and a Registered Psychometrician. She is also the author of the book entitled Psychology of Love, Money, & Life.