The Misconceptions About Depression

I woke up with my eyes almost swollen shut. I cried myself to sleep and had only gotten a hour or two of rest. I was exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. I was exhausted in every way a person could be.

The night before, I had planned to commit suicide. I had been struggling with depression (something I’ve talked about here) and couldn’t handle it anymore. However, thankfully, I didn’t go through with it. I emailed my college’s counseling center asking for help and cried the night away. Once I woke up, I immediately checked my email. Sure enough, there was an email from the counseling center. There in that tiny little dorm room, I decided to address my mental health issues that I had ignored for months in fear that it meant I was “crazy.”

I also decided that day that once I got healthy again, I would tell my story in hope to help others and end the stigma surrounding mental health issues. This week is Suicide Prevention Week. The leading cause of suicide is untreated depression. Talking to people about this topic, I realized there are a lot of misconceptions about depression.

No, I can’t just get over it.

No matter how many times you tell someone to “just get over,” they can’t. It’s not that simple. Someone who is suffering from clinical depression can’t decide one day to just forget about it. It’s going to take time, professional help and sometimes even meds. Furthermore, you telling someone to get over it isn’t helpful. It makes me them feel like a burden and who really wants to feel like a burden?

Taking anti-depressants doesn’t mean you are weak.

Taking meds doesn’t mean you are weak or crazy. It is something I struggled with myself. I thought if I took anti-depressants that it meant my disease had won. Not the case. I view it now as me taking my mental illness into my owns hands and making my mental health my number priority. I am no longer on the meds but I thank them for helping me get out of the dark hole I was in. It also takes time to find the right medication. If something doesn’t feel right, be your own advocate and tell your doctor.

Anti-depressants are only one part of getting help.

Now, first let me state that I am not a psychiatrist or a mental health professional in any way so take my opinion as you will. I don’t think depression can only be treated with meds. I think it needs to be a combo of meds and therapy. Meds deal with the biology of the brain but therapy helps you deal with emotional issues. In my experience, it’s a combination of the two when dealing with depression. For me, therapy has help give me the skills to deal with my depression on a daily basis.

It’s going to take time.

You have admitted to yourself that you are depressed and want to seek help. That is a great and amazing first step. You should be proud. However, the real work is just beginning. Finding a therapist you are comfortable with and a medication that works properly can take some time. Also, feeling “normal” again will take time too. Don’t give up. Everything you are doing will be so worth it.

There isn’t miracle cure for depression. It is something I have dealt with for most of my life and probably will for the rest of it. At the end of the day, we all need to talk about. We need to talk to about our feelings, our day to day struggles and everything else. We need to talk about depression even when we are at our worst. We especially need to talk about it with people who don’t suffer from mental health issues. The more talking there is, the more understanding there will be. With more understanding, the more people will be less afraid to come forward and get the help they need.

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  • Lyndsay ‘Hunt’ Boettcher

    Thank you so much for posting this article! I do not personally suffer from depression, but I have friends and family that do, and having additional perspective on it is very helpful.

  • Kimberly Nagaran

    Thanks for sharing your story and insight. Depression isn’t a human weakness, it’s something that can be controlled. Going to therapy was probably one of the best decisions I made for myself. A health mind and spirit just makes for a better life :)

    Keep on swimming, y’all.

  • Pamela Shaw Miller

    Thank you for posting this! I’ve often been told to “get over it” or “deal with it” or “move on” but depression isn’t that simple!!! It takes time to come out of it, and help.

  • Candice Gooch

    I’m a bit torn on this subject, having gone through depression myself and stood by friends who have struggled, too. Even with all of my exposure to this phenomenon, I strongly believe that it is so misunderstood. Depression is like being in physical pain. You can’t just “get over it” BUT it is there for a REASON. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong with your body. Emotional/mental pain is your brain telling you something is off with your life. Maybe you only get 4-6 hours of sleep a night. Maybe you drink a lot. Maybe you don’t eat healthy or get enough exercise and sunshine. Every body is different and we all need to find our own lifestyle that keeps us healthy and happy. I don’t believe that people with depression are helpless to it until they take medication or seek a professional opinion. We are humans. We need to act like it sometimes.

    • Adam Spiers

      That’s only one side of the coin though. Depression is a bit of a misleading title as it can mean many different things. For example bi-polar disorder is not the body saying there is something wrong, it is not caused by external circumstances, but a chemical imbalance in the brain.

      PS I hope the presence of a man is welcome here, despite the fact this is aimed at ladies. :)

      • Lindsay O’Brien-Head

        Just to help clarify, both “major depressive disorder” and bipolar are both classified as mood disorders and are imbalances of brain chemistry. People are born with genetics that put us at greater risk to have these illnesses, but they are still somewhat triggered by environmental factors. Depression comes in episodes.. if you have one episode, you are more likely to have more.. With bipolar, once you have it, you have it and have to have medications to control it (therapy needs to be happening too). Severe depression would benefit greatly with medications in addition to therapy, but it’s not necessary. With depression, brain chemistry can return back to normal as our mood improves. And the author was right… no mental illness can be entirely fixed with a pill. The way we think is faulty and leading to poor mood.. Also, depression and anxiety typically go hand in hand. I’ve dealt with both for my whole life and developed alcohol problems.. I’ll also add that I am a Therapist and have sought therapy for myself.. Just because I know about all of the illnesses, diagnose them and help others doesn’t mean it’s easy to fix myself.

        • Emily Ciara Riffle

          The truth is, I suffer from all three- major depressive disorder, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, on top of a personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This article, while only meant for depression, is really true for most mental disorders. As for me, I needed meds AND counseling. I no longer attend counseling, but a Christian recovery program has taken it’s place and I still take the medication. I love this article because it could help people realize that they’re not crazy, and that they have a legitimate illness, just like the flu or a cold. The difference is, you don’t get better by popping some pills and resting when you have depression, anxiety, bipolar, or any other mental illness. You need to address the emotional side, not just the physical.
          Any way, great article! :)

      • Candice Gooch

        The post is about Depression, so I was was just talking about depression, not bipolar-ism. No worries, though :) I agree with you. Some disorders are trickier to deal with.

    • Jessica Jeffers

      Yes, but it’s important to acknowledge that simply getting more sleep isn’t going to cure most people’s depression, and in many cases the not sleeping, etc is a side effect of being depressed and not (just) a cause. Depression is often something that you have to seek external help for, and people need to remember to be as supportive as possible while encouraging someone who is depressed to find whatever help will carry them through it.

      • Candice Gooch

        I agree, I did actually say I have gone through it and am supportive of others who have it. :) I don’t just tell them to “get more sleep,” because I also didn’t say it was that simple. There’s a laundry list of things your body needs, and sleep is a small part of it. I still support anyone who choose to take medication for something like this, but personally I think that medication only treats the symptom – not the cause. But, again, that doesn’t mean I don’t support sufferers who choose it.

        • Sara Coons

          I am going to have to respectfully disagree with you regarding medication. I’ve dealt with having massive depressive disorder since I was about ten years old (28 now), and in my case, and in a lot of other cases, the depressive moods ARE a symptom. They are a symptom of chemical imbalances in the brain, which is the real problem, and has to be treated. Before I was properly diagnosed and medicated (and it took several years to get to that point), I would have horrific depressive episodes that would last for weeks, or even months, that were not caused by any particular event in my life. They were the result of a chemical imbalance in my brain. The only way (for me) to restore that balance was to take medication. I’ve been on my antidepressants for nine years, and I can honestly say that I would never go back to the way I was before I started taking them. Yes, I still have an occasional episode, but the main cause of my depression was a problem with my brain. The depressive episodes were the symptoms.

  • Sarah M. Weinberg

    really touchy and important subject! i feel the need to point out another aspect that i think it contributes to a lot of misconceptions on depression. there are way too many people “depressed” nowadays. not clinically depressed, but “ohmygod he didn’t call, i wanna die” depressed. i am in no way implying that any of you fall into this category, there IS a lot of serious depression and it should be carefully treated. but to some it seems that it’s cool to “be depressed” and fill up your body with unprescripted prescription drugs. sorry to diverge a little on your original post, Sara, but i thought it was worth the discussion.

    • Sara Brown

      No problem. I am glad you brought that point up actually. I should have been more specific about what kind of depression I was talking about it which was clinical. I am in no way endorsing taking meds without a doctor’s supervision and is something that should be handled very seriously. And not everyone needs to be on medication.

      If anything, I am just hoping this posts sparks an honest conversation about the topic.

      Thanks again. Very valid point! :-)

    • Lindsay O’Brien-Head

      that would be called an “Emo kid” or someone who feels sad.. not diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I think you bring up a good point, though.. People overuse a clinical terms. It bugs me when people come to my office and say they are “bipolar” because their mood changes rapidly.. that’s not even close to the actual symptoms, but the terms are being thrown around like that..

  • Chris Martinez

    “No matter how many times you tell someone to “just get over,” they can’t. It’s not that simple. Someone who is suffering from clinical depression can’t decide one day to just forget about it. It’s going to take time, professional help and sometimes even meds. Furthermore, you telling someone to get over it isn’t helpful. It makes me them feel like a burden and who really wants to feel like a burden?” — Just perfectly written that paragraph, and thanks so much for writing this article. xxx

  • Trish Ladd

    I had a time before (decades ago) where I went through an extended period of unstable employment. I realized later I suffered through many of the symptoms of depression. I probably wasn’t clinically depressed, but I think I was well on my way there. I did have occaisional thoughts of suicide because I did not want to be a continued burden on those around me. What brought me out of it was a woman from a temp agency called me out of the blue and wanted to find out if I was interested in a job. After that first week she employed me as a temp steadily and my self confidence increased and I came back to what I’d call normal – though it was not easy. I recognize that I did not do this on my own or alone.

    Now that I have once again fallen into a similar circumstance I think what has kept me from falling so deep has been to continue be active and volunteering in order to keep up my feelings of self-worth. For me it’s been quite circumstantial — but I do understand that it is not that way for everyone and after a time it is just hard to get out of that deep deep hole. There is no “getting over it”.

    For all the words I have, there are no words to fully express my thoughts and sympathy. I can only wish for healing. <3

  • Karen Ostrowski Boruff

    Thank you so much for your post and for sharing your story! I suffered from depression for many years and I attempted suicide over 8 years ago. My depression was largely untreated and then was exacerbated by postpartum depression. After getting the right combination of meds and lots of therapy, I healed. I agree with so much of what you said, especially the part about the medications only being a part of it. Like you, I have used my story as a way to help other people. I am not ashamed of what I went through. I am a stronger person now, off of medications completely and armed with the tools to help me overcome setbacks – which are inevitable. This is such an important topic and I applaud you for sharing it.

  • Natasha Wedlake

    Thank you for writing about this, I hope many people read it and we can start to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health.
    I myself have borderline personality disorder coupled with severe depression, and so know how a person can feel so pointless and worthless they would try to take their life.
    Depression is something that takes over your life, at it’s most severe it is completely debilitating to the point where a person cannot eat, sleep, wash or get out of bed. The feelings associated with depression are very long lasting and treatment is often a long and exhausting process, with many therapies spread over years.
    I would always advocate a mixture of medication and talking therapies as treatment as this is what I, personally, and many people I have met have found most effective.
    To everyone else who is suffering, I wish you the best of luck and want to remind you that although it is hard now you will see the light soon.
    All my love x

  • Jessica Jeffers

    Thank you! I’ve struggled with both anxiety and depression, and I encourage everyone to spend at least a little bit of time talking to a therapist. The thing about depression is that negative thoughts become so ingrained that it becomes a habit that’s hard to quit much like any other habit. Talking to a therapist has helped me learn to identify those “bad behaviors” and think about things in a more positive light. It’s not something I could ever just “get over” on my own, no matter how hard I worked at it.

    Seeing a therapist doesn’t mean you’re weak; I’d argue it means you’re strong enough to look at yourself honestly, acknowledge your flaws, and work to improve yourself. The same goes for taking antidepressants. If your body was broken, you’d go to the E.R. and seek medical care; why should your brain be any different?

  • Lauren Masserant

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  • Lindsay O’Brien-Head

    I am a Therapist and I’ve sought therapy myself for anxiety, depression and self medicating with alcohol. I’m still currently battling what I got myself into with drinking. Most therapists will tell you that they also seek therapy themselves because we believe in it (and also we have really stressful jobs listening to you all’s problems). I think the stigma is getting slightly better as far as depression and anxiety go, but it still has a long way to go. The author is right, with any mental illness, taking a pill doesn’t fix the problem and like one commenter mentioned, depression is often connected to the way in which we think and our habitual behaviors. Also, people don’t have to know that you go to therapy, kids need to learn to speak up, and parents need to make their kids feel comfortable coming and asking for help. As a teenager, I was scared to tell my parents because my mom would have either flipped out, would have been too embarrassed to take me, or downplayed what I’m going through and say “suck it up.” If you’re an adult then just go and don’t tell anyone! The therapist isn’t going to think you are crazy, we’re the ones who know its perfectly normal and effects all walks of life.

    • Lindsay O’Brien-Head

      I’ll also mention that I thought I was “so smart” especially since I already know how to do therapy, diagnose, etc, so I didn’t go. Once I made myself, I realized had hadn’t thought through so many things and still discovered so much about myself.

  • Laura Belle Hood

    Thank you so much for posting this. I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 12 and I think this article would have helped me a lot at that time. I also think this article would be a good thing for those to read who don’t suffer with depression, but are close to someone who does, to better understand. THUMBS UP!

  • Krissy Resha-Harris

    This was a wonderful article and the things you pointed out about it are so true. I struggle with anxiety and I literally thought that I was going crazy. I tried to self treat myself and for a few months I didn’t have any panic attacks, and then a few weeks ago I went through perpetual anxiety. It would not let up. I had someone tell me to “stop worry and stressing out about it.” I love my friend dearly, but that truly is the worst advice you could give someone because anxiety & depression are not a light switch. You can’t just turn it off as you please. Anyway, I finally went to my doctor and he prescribed me some medication that I was very against taking at first, but after talking to a friend who deals with it, I took the step to help myself – and it is helping me a lot. I have a counseling session set up for Monday and I’m really looking forward to it. There’s so many people that go through it & I promise, you are NOT crazy and medication does not mean you are weak. It just means that you are taking steps to try & heal yourself. Thanks so much for writing this article! :)

  • Savannah Morey Palmer

    Thank you. I don’t know what else to say.

  • Gabriela Pontes

    Hi, Sara! I believe that you will help many of people with this post. I’m depresed. I go to the meds and therapy, I take anti-depressants too. I’m brom Brazil. I’m depressed since 2009, but I have only discovered in 2011. This way, I only began with taking anti-depressants in 2011. I feel better now, but not 100% yet. Are you 100%? When your depression has begin? If you could and if you have time, we can talk about that and other things. We will be safe. I believe.
    Kisses from Gabriela Pontes.
    That’s my email:

  • Daniel DuPont

    For the past several years I’ve been under various medications for my depression and will soon start a new one… Have I considered taking my own life? At one point, it was a thought, but I never could go through with any attempts and I never will. Yes, I’m still fighting my demons and trying to find peace… It is a matter of finding that shaft of light amidst the heaviness and the greyness that is around… and… I want to see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series in my lifetime.

  • Karen Lada

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  • Kelly Bromfield

    I’ve dealt with depression the majority of my life and every now and then, I go through the frustrations of needing medication and still attempting to build the life I want to live. Thank you. I really needed to read this tonight.

  • Elisabeth Miller

    As someone with bipolar disorder (mostly depressive), I would like to thank you for this article. A dear friend of mine also had bipolar disorder. She committed suicide more than five years ago. She wasn’t taking her meds properly and she didn’t have the funds to see a therapist. I hate when people off-handedly remark that they’re going to kill themselves or they’re feeling bipolar that day. Not cool.

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