Ten Things You Should Know About Depression

Deborah Gray Health Guide
  • 1. Depression is an illness.
    Depression is an illness in the same way that diabetes and high blood pressure are illnesses. It's not just being "blue" or feeling sorry for yourself.


    2. Depression is treatable.
    Depression can be successfully treated in over 80% of people who suffer from it. Advances in treatment are being made that help the remaining 20%, those with what is usually called "treatment-resistant depression."


    3. Depression is not a character flaw or weakness.
    The belief that depression can be controlled, and therefore that the person with depression is undisciplined, a whiner or inherently negative is the basis of much of depression's stigma. But it is not a character flaw any more than any other illness is.

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    4. In most cases, depression will not permanently go away by itself.
    In many cases, depression, even major depression, will eventually go away without treatment. However, the chances of it recurring again are very high.


    5. Depression is not a normal, inevitable part of aging.
    Although first time depression can be triggered in seniors by loneliness, financial worries or the loss of a spouse, it is not a normal part of aging. Depression is not a normal condition for anyone.


    6. Depression does not have to be triggered by an event like the death of a loved one or job loss.
    Although the onset of depression can follow a triggering event, in some cases there is no such event.


    7. Depression is not always treated just with medication.
    Although depression is an illness, it is not always treated with medication, in the same way that diabetes is usually treated with diet changes and possibly insulin, not just insulin. There are a variety of ways to treat depression: medication, therapy, a combination of medication and therapy, therapy along with diet and exercise, or, if the depression is mild enough, possibly diet and exercise. Make sure that any treatment plan is prescribed by your doctor. You should not try to treat your depression on your own.


    8. If a family member has depression, you're are not necessarily fated to have it too.
    While it is true that there is often a genetic component to depression, it's not a foregone conclusion that someone who had relatives with mental illness is going to have it also, although they may be more susceptible than the next person.


    9. You can't will depression away.
    One of the most dangerous things you can believe about depression is that it can somehow be overcome with positive thinking, at least if the method is generated by the patient or a $15.95 book. Certain types of therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, can be very effective in the treatment of depression, but need to be undertaken under the care of a mental health professional.


    10. The majority of people with depression are not in contact with a mental health professional.
    Based on an analysis of a 2005-2006 survey, the Centers for Disease Control concluded that only 29% of those with depression had contacted a mental health professional the prior year. There are several reasons why people do not seek specialized care. One would be that many people are more comfortable seeking treatment from their family doctor. Unfortunately, a generalist is rarely going to be as knowledgeable, and have the same amount of patient experience to draw on, as a specialist. However, at least these people are under a doctor's care for their depression. Some people never seek treatment for depression because they either do not realize that they are suffering from depression or do not believe that treatment will work, or are afraid to seek help because of the stigma attached to depression.

Published On: February 10, 2010