Depression: Myths vs. Reality

By Rita Buettner

When it comes to depression, there is a great deal of misunderstanding, misconception, and discrimination, much of which stems from a lack of information about this condition.

Loyola magazine invited experts from the Loyola Clinical Centers to share insight.

Here La Keita Carter, Psy.D., former director of the psychology division of the Loyola Clinical Centers and clinical assistant professor of psychology, and Angelita Yu-Crowley, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of psychology and director of doctoral field education, expose some of the myths related to depression.

Myth: Depression is “all in the head.”

Truth: Depression can be debilitating and has emotional (frequent tearfulness or agitation), social (loss of interest in hobbies and social gatherings), and physical (body aches and pains; weight loss or gain) symptoms. It is not just in your head. It is a legitimate disease like any other disease.

Flickr image by Lloyd Morgan

Flickr image by Lloyd Morgan

Myth: Depression can be “cured” with herbs.

Truth: Some diseases (like asthma) have severity levels. Minor depression may be aided by talk therapy, increased social interactions and support, and exercise. However, moderate and severe depression are often better aided through a combination of medication and talk therapy.

Myth: When people suffering from depression appear to be feeling better and show increased energy, they are getting better.

Truth: This is actually a high risk time for a suicide attempt.

Myth: If you aren’t deeply sad, then you aren’t depressed.

Truth: There are other symptoms of depression besides deep sadness, like frequent irritability or agitation, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, and fatigue or loss of energy.

Myth: Sadness and depression are the same thing.

Truth: They are not. Sadness is a typical human emotional response to disturbing news, events, or information. Everyone gets sad at some point in their lives. Not everyone is depressed, however. Depression is a deeper sadness that impacts your typical daily functioning like the ability to go to work or school, or your ability concentrate once you get to work or school. It also impacts your relationships more substantially than sadness does. Sadness typically goes away when better moments arrive in your life. Depression, however, feels more like a dark cloud that is hanging over one’s head. In other words, even when great things happen to people with depression, they don’t feel that much better.

Flickr image by Satish Krishnamurthy

Keep in Mind

“A common acronym for assessing suicidality is IS PATH WARM? (ideation, substance abuse, purposelessness, anxiety, trapped, hopelessness, withdrawal, anger, recklessness, mood change),” Yu-Crowley says.

“Depression requires treatment, just like a broken arm or a sinus infection. Ideally medication and talk therapy are combined to offer the most relief from symptoms and to improve mood. There are lots of medications out there right now that will offer relief without the extent of negative side effects that there once were. And, don’t underestimate the power of connection. Talking and feeling understood and experiencing concern from another person can be powerful! So, reach out to loved ones when you notice changes. If you cannot help them, try to help them get help!”

Contact staff at the Loyola Clinical Centers at 410-617-1200 and the Loyola Counseling Center at 410-617-2273.

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