A psychologist explains why depression is one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses

Many people come to therapy seeking help with their depression. They ask questions like:

  • “I wish I was able to handle life as a normal person. Why is my brain so incompetent?”
  • “I feel so guilty because I feel so depressed when I see that there are so many out there who live lives that are so much harder than I do. Why am I so obsessed with myself?”
  • “I understand that my lack of initiative at work is due to my depression. Why do I still feel like I’m making excuses for myself?”

If you’ve ever been depressed, you know how debilitating it can be. Depression can make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, impossible to focus, and make you lose interest in activities you used to enjoy. No wonder depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.

Despite its prevalence, there are still some myths about depression that can make it difficult to treat.

Myth #1. Depression is all about brain chemistry

When people think of depression, they think of it as a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be fixed through medication. But this line of reasoning closes the door on several effective models for treating depression.

While it is true that depression is linked An imbalance in neurotransmittersthere is more than that.

Depression often follows a problem in a person’s social environment. For example, people who experience stressful life changes are at risk of developing depression.

As humans, we are forced to be more sensitive to negative events rather than positive or neutral events. This is called negative bias.

Negativity sells, so the media embraces it. This overexposure to negativity, enabled by the influence of social media and the Internet, explains why many people develop negative thought patterns. This may be a precursor to depression.

Another major situational factor that can precede depression is poor close relationships. For example:

  • Is this person in an abusive relationship?
  • Does this person have a difficult relationship with their parents?
  • What does their work environment look like?

When it comes to treating the condition, it is important to view the depressed person as more than just the sum total of their imbalanced neurotransmitters. While pharmacotherapy is helpful, it is often combined with psychotherapy It usually leads to the best results.

Myth #2. Depressed people want to isolate themselves

Yes, people with depression tend to isolate themselves. Often:

  • Don’t come to work
  • Neglecting their personal hygiene
  • Ignore their friends and family

What we must understand, however, is that they have a mental health condition that makes it difficult for them to reconnect with society as a healthy person would.

It’s not that they decided to get out of society. Alternatively, depression can make it seem (to others and themselves) as if they have it.

One study Posted in Psychological Bulletin indicates that individuals prone to depression are, in fact, highly sensitive to negative social interactions. Many of the symptoms of depression, such as self-isolation, can be understood as a way to reduce social risk. else study Posted in feelings It revealed that people with depression often have impairments in their reactions to both positive and negative social cues.

It is possible that highly sensitive individuals may unconsciously respond to challenging social environments by withdrawing into the “protective envelope” of depression.

If you want to help someone who is depressed and self-isolating, don’t offer Toxic positivity. Avoid saying sterile things like:

  • you did
  • It could be worse
  • Think happy thoughts

Instead, remind them, in subtle ways, that you care about them. Sometimes people with depression just want to be heard and understood, not to be “fixed.” So, give them your full attention when they decide to reach out.

You can also offer to help in specific ways. For example, you could “happen” to be at their favorite restaurant and call to check if they want to bring over some food. Small gestures of love matter to people, and depressed people are no exception.


Learn about the myths surrounding depression. It is a complex mental illness with many different causes and symptoms. If you think you may be depressed, it is important to talk to a therapist or mental health professional who can help you get the treatment you need. Remember, there is no shame in asking for help.

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