(WellnessPursuits.com) – If you’re down more than you’re up, or if you ache all the time, want to give up and feel like having a good cry, you could have depression. These are the classic symptoms of depression, but it’s much more complex. Not all people exhibit classic symptoms, and some function and even succeed, despite having depression. It’s not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the illness.
Misconception #1: Depression Is Just Being Sad
Although sadness comes along with depression, it’s not all there is to it. Depression is much more than temporary feelings of sadness. It is insomnia, feelings of hopelessness, lack of motivation, loss of interest, fatigue, weight gain or loss, body aches, poor concentration and, in severe cases, thoughts of and/or attempts at suicide. You can’t just shake depression, and it doesn’t lighten up on its own.
Misconception #2: Depression “Looks” a Certain Way
Sometimes, depression can mean not showering or taking care of yourself, but that’s not always the case. Depression doesn’t have a look. You can appear as though you’ve got it all together, and you may even be able to force a smile. Hidden depression is sometimes called smiling depression or forced happiness. You may even be able to work and be productive. The truth is, you can be totally functional and still have depression. If you have the symptoms of depression, take them seriously, even if it doesn’t “look” like you have depression.
Misconception #3: Medication is the Only Way to Treat Depression
Medication has a great track record for successfully treating depression, but it’s not always necessary. In some cases, therapy along with certain lifestyle and dietary changes can alleviate depression symptoms. Coping mechanisms, such as reading, coloring, exercising and meditation, can also help.
Misconception #4: A Family History of Depression Guarantees You Will Have It
If a family member has depression, you’re more likely, but not guaranteed, to have depression as well. If a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, has depression, you’re two to three times more likely to develop it. However, you may also never develop depression. On the other hand, lots of people with depression don’t have a family history of it.
Misconception #5: Having Depression Isn’t Anything to Worry About
Depression is a real condition that has real consequences. If left untreated, depression can lead to a host of problems, including addiction, self-injury, relationship issues and suicide. It can also cause health problems. Chronic pain, inflammation, heart disease and worsening chronic health conditions have all been linked with depression.
Misconception #6: You Can Overcome Depression Easily
You can’t shake depression or will it away with a thought. The very nature of depression and the way it affects your thinking, brain chemistry and motivation makes it difficult to get over. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It takes work, and you probably won’t be able to do it alone. You will, however, be able to overcome depression with proper help.
If left unchecked, depression can wreak havoc on your brain, finances, relationships and health. And it doesn’t give up easily. If you believe you have depression, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible. If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 for immediate, confidential help. There are treatments that work. You don’t have to live this way. You can conquer your depression.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!
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