5 Myths and Misconceptions About Depression

By: Jayson Tripp, MD


Depression is a complex condition with a lot of stigma around it. There are plenty of misconceptions and myths about depression out there, such as how it’s caused, if it’s real, who it affects, and how it affects people. In this blog, we will discuss some common beliefs about depression that are not true.  

1. Depression Is Just Being Sad

Depression is a serious mental illness that has lots of symptoms that do not always come with the typical sadness people believe it is. Because people believe that depression is just sadness, they also believe that everyone goes through it. However, this is not the case. 

Depression is an illness that usually requires some form of treatment, such as medications and/or therapy. What that means is, someone cannot just snap out of depression like you would be able to with a bad mood. Depression is a persistent feeling that is a lot more intense than sadness and needs to be taken seriously.  

2. Only Certain People Get Depression

Lots of people think that depression only affects women or that it only affects people who have experienced trauma. However, anyone can get depression regardless of their age, race, gender, or circumstances.  

While there is such a thing as situational depression, clinical depression  is actually caused by faulty neurons in the brain. These misfiring neurons in the brain can cause people to experience depression even if they haven’t had any major negative events to create it.  Even when someone seems to have a good life, they can still struggle because their brain isn’t functioning normally. 

A study from 2013-2016 shows that 10.4% of  women and 5.5% of men in the U.S. were affected by depression. Another study in 2018 shows that 1.9 million children aged 3–17 were diagnosed with depression. So clearly, depression can affect anyone, regardless of their circumstances.  

3. Depression Has No Real Symptoms

Another common belief is that depression doesn’t have any symptoms besides feeling sad. This is not true. Some physical symptoms of depression include being unable to sleep, or the opposite: sleeping too much. Another symptom is having little to no appetite or over-eating, which goes hand in hand with weight gain and weight loss.  

Depression can also cause someone to have little to no energy. Behaviorally, depression can cause crying for little to no reason, irritability, and the desire to isolate. Depression can also seriously affect mood. Symptoms include anxiety, guilt, loss of interest, loss of hope, and apathy to name a few.   

Sometimes, these symptoms may not be visible in someone you know. People believe that if you can function normally in life without visible difficulty, there’s no way you could have depression, but this isn’t true. Just because someone seems like they are fine on the outside doesn’t mean they are struggling internally.  

4. Depression Will Go Away on Its Own

Depression is a mental illness — illness being the keyword — meaning that it requires treatment. Depression is not something you can get out of by just thinking positively due to its severity. A lot of people believe that depression can be fixed purely with diet and exercise, and while this can help alleviate some of the depression, it may not be a full fix for it.  

If the depression is being caused by misfiring neurons in the brain, then the patient needs treatment to help their brain function properly and combat the symptoms of depression. Treatments for depression include medications, professional counseling, TMS therapy (transcranial magnetic stimulation), ketamine infusion, and many other treatment options.  

5. Everyone With Depression Practices Self-Harm  

Self-harm is something that typically comes along with depression. However, just because someone is depressed does not mean they self-harm. People who do self-harm use it as a coping mechanism to punish themselves, to feel a sense of control, to feel something physical when they feel numb, or a variety of other reasons.  

People who self-harm do not do it to be manipulative or to get attention. In fact, most people who self-harm hide it, instead of telling anyone or asking for help. Also, self-harm is not limited to cutting. Self-harm can be anything self-destructive, such as burning, hitting oneself, pulling hair, scratching, and other habits.  

Depression and other mental conditions are a struggle to deal with, and even though there’s a lot of stigma attached, it’s important to understand that you have treatment options that can help in even the most difficult cases. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or another mental illness, contact us at Serenity Mental Health Centers so you can get started on finding a treatment plan that’s right for you. 

Request Appointment

*All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.