Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) conducts research for identifying which illnesses, diseases or disorders are causing the most deaths, disabilities and lost time from work (www.who.int/whr). As you can imagine, cancer and heart disease have been the top two illnesses for many years. However, recent WHO data has identified a new world-wide trend: Clinical depression is the up and comer, and eventually will surpass all other illnesses.
Why? What can be done to reduce depression? Questions such as these need to be answered. Unfortunately, discussions about depression are difficult due to myths — long-standing false beliefs and inaccurate information.
The purpose of today’s article is to expose these myths and, more importantly, to provide you with good information so you can begin to understand the importance of recognizing, treating and preventing clinical depression.
MYTH 1: Clinical depression is caused by a person’s weakness or personal short-comings.
False. A survey conducted in the 1990s found the following public perceptions of depression: 71 percent said it was due to emotional weakness; 65 percent said it was caused by bad parenting; 45 percent said it’s the victim’s fault, and you can “will it away”; 43 percent said it is incurable. 35 percent said it is a consequence of sinful behavior; and 10 percent said it has a biological basis involving the brain. (“Essential Psychopharmacology,” 2002, Stahl, Steven, the Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.)
Only 10 percent correctly identified the fact that clinical depression is a biologically based brain disorder, involving a genetic vulnerability.
MYTH 2: Clinical depression and grief are the same.
False. When my mother died, I entered a time where I missed her terribly. I mourned her death, and felt a powerful feeling of loss. But, I was never clinically depressed. My sadness was a part of a normal process that I knew would eventually lift. During my time of grieving, I did not experience a loss of self-esteem, nor did I blame myself in any way. In addition, my feelings of sadness made sense and were all related to one specific event (my mother’s death). I knew that the best treatment was time and close support from my friends and family.
Clinical depression, on the other hand, is not a normal process, nor will time alone be an effective…