Myths and Facts About Depression

Topic Overview

People's ideas about depression have changed over the years. New technology and new research show that depression is a disease, just like asthma or heart failure.

Here are some myths and facts about depression.

Myth

Fact

"Depression isn't real."

"It's something in your head."

"It's being lazy."

Depression is a disease of the brain. Experts believe that certain brain chemicals go out of balance to cause the disease. No one thing causes this. Many things, including your genes, stressful events, illness, and medicines, can cause the imbalance.

"Depression always will get better by itself."

"Treatment doesn't really work."

"You usually can wait it out."

A few people get over depression on their own, but most people need treatment. Most people with depression can be treated, and they return to their work and home routines. Without treatment, depression can last for months or even years.

"Children cannot get depression."

Depression can develop in any age group, ethnic group, economic group, and gender. As many as 3 in 100 young children and 9 in 100 teens have serious depression.1

"Depression only happens if something bad happens to you. For example, you only get it after a bad divorce or losing your job."

Depression may start after something bad happens, but other things also may trigger it. Medicines, hormone problems, childbirth, and using alcohol and drugs all can trigger depression. Sometimes it happens for no clear reason.

"If you can't get over depression, you're weak."

Depression is a disease. It is a problem with your brain chemistry, not your character. You can't force yourself to get over it any more than you can make asthma or a heart attack go away.

"Only people who are very depressed or think about suicide need medicine."

Most people with depression need medicine. Medicine can improve or get rid of the symptoms of depression.

References

Citations

  1. Dulcan MK, et al. (2003). Mood disorders section of Adult disorders that may begin in childhood or adolescence. In Concise Guide to Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 3rd ed., pp. 129–177. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Credits

Author Jeannette Curtis
Author Paul Lehnert
Editor Katy E. Magee, MA
Associate Editor Terrina Vail
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Catherine D. Serio, PhD - Behavioral Health
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter Hauser, MD - Psychiatry
Last Updated March 13, 2009

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