4. Myth: People who think they have depression are just feeling sorry for themselves.
Depression affects about 19 million people annually in the U.S. alone. Some of the most prominent and well-known individuals who have suffered from a depressive disorder include Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, George Patton, abolitionist John Brown, Robert E. Lee, Florence Nightingale, Sir Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin, J.P. Morgan, Barbara Bush, Ludwig von Beethoven and Michelangelo. Not exactly people who just sit around feeling sorry for themselves.
5. Myth: You can will depression away. If you can’t, then you’re weak.
Depression cannot be willed away any more than heart disease or diabetes can. It’s caused by chemical changes in the body, which cannot be overcome simply by positive thinking and grim determination. Given how much stigma is still attached to mental illness, seeking help for depression is an act of courage and strength — not weakness — on your part.
6. Myth: Depression will go away by itself.
For extremely fortunate individuals, depression may go away by itself. But for the rest of us, depression can hang on for months, years or indefinitely. Depression can go away on its own, only to return in the future; once an individual has one episode of depression, they are predisposed to have more. Clinical depression is a potentially fatal disease – and suicide could be the end result of waiting for it to go away without any help.
7. Myth: Depression is a normal part of getting older.
Depression is not a normal part of aging, but seniors do generally experience more of the events that can trigger depression: loss of family and friends, ill health, isolation and financial worries. Furthermore, people over the age of 60 grew up in an era in which mental illness was not discussed, and they may feel more shame about asking for help than someone from a subsequent generation.
The highest rate of suicide of any age group occurs in that of people 65 and older, with men being more vulnerable than women. It’s imperative that seniors with depression seek help.