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4 common myths about depression

/ 02:20 AM November 01, 2014

Depression is a psychological condition marked by prolonged periods of lethargy, sadness, anxiety and hopelessness, which often manifest in loss of appetite, fatigue, insomnia, excessive sleeping and suicidal ideation.

As of 2012, the World Health Organization announced that more than 350 million people from all over the world are suffering from depression. Sadly, many have very little understanding of the disease, which does not help in curbing its prevalence.

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MediCard, a leading HMO in the Philippines, hopes to dispel several myths about depression in the hope of creating a more positive and helpful environment for people who are suffering from the condition.

• Depression is nothing but “the blues.” Most people dismiss other people’s symptoms with the classic “You’re just having a bad day” or “Just shake it off,” and it certainly does not help. For one, it trivializes depression, an actual illness caused by an imbalance of a person’s endorphins and neurotransmitters. For another, such remarks prevent the person from seeking professional help, until their emotions spiral downward even further.

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• Just pop some pills and it will go away. Depression is a complex psychological disorder that results from any number of causes, such as abuse, loss of a loved one, family history or a serious illness. Seeking a prescription from a doctor to allow you to “pop some antidepressants” only addresses the biochemical aspect of depression. But an effective approach to the condition considers all its facets and may constitute non-medication-based solutions, such as behavior therapy or lifestyle change.

• You can self-diagnose and self-medicate. The Internet has spawned a lot of self-tests with titles like “Are you depressed? Take this 10-step quiz!” and online medical references that list down possible treatments for different diseases. But effectively diagnosing depression requires a comprehensive and objective examination by a professional. By doing it yourself, you run the risk of misinterpreting your symptoms, and possibly make it worse by delaying proper treatment.

• Don’t talk about it so it doesn’t get worse. Related to Myth No. 3, many hesitate from talking about their symptoms of depression with other people, in fear of stigma, but also of making it worse. Key to addressing the condition, however, is a strong support system of family and friends, which will not be available if those suffering from depression kept it to themselves.

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TAGS: Depression, health and science, WHO
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