Mental Health Myths

by: Julia McDonald

Myth: Depression is just a feeling; you can snap out of it if you try hard enough.

In reality: to be diagnosed with depression a person must have at least five symptoms, which must be present for at least two weeks, and be a change from their normal functioning. This criteria ensures that to be diagnosed with depression, it must be a serious issue, not just a mood.

Myth: Depression only occurs when bad things happen.

In reality: depression can be caused by:

  • genetics
  • life events
  • chemical imbalance- particularly serotonin levels
  • synapse and neurotransmitter issues

Myth: Postpartum depression is an excuse women use for being bad mothers.

In reality: postpartum depression can be caused by changing hormones, bodily changes, and lack of sleep within a year after giving birth. It effects about 10% of women and include symptoms such as:

  • intense worrying about baby
  • thoughts of suicide
  • fears of harming the baby

Myth: There's nothing you can do to treat depression.

In reality: Depression can be treated through various medications such as lithium, zolac, and prozac, as well as through therapy and talking to different people about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

Myth: Antidepressents and lithium can help anybody with a mood disorder.

In reality: lithium helps 85% of patients, this means that 15% of people cannot be helped by these types of products.

Myth: There are no outward signs of depression.

In reality outward signs of depression include:

  • loss of interest in activities
  • change in sleeping and eating habits
  • inability to focus
  • neglect of personal appearance
  • overall appearance of sadness/excessive crying

Myth: Having Mania is Fun.

In reality having mania comes with many unpleasant experiences and symptoms including:

  • extreme moods swings and agitations
  • trouble concentrating-racing thoughts
  • risk taking
  • irritability
  • compulsive shopping/spending
  • hallucinations

Myth: Noone Hallucinates while suffering from a mood disorder.

In reality people with bipolar disorder may suffer from hallucinations, specifically when their disorder is incorrectly treated with lithium.

Myth: Everyone who has bipolar disorder experiences the disorder in the same way.

In reality there are many types of people with bipolar disorder:

  1. Bipolar I: long periods of mania with short periods of depression
  2. Bipolar II: long periods of depression with short periods of depression in between
  3. Rapid Cycling: manic/depressive episodes alternate at least 4 times a year
  4. Ultra Rapid Cycling: manic/depressive episodes alternate several times a day

Myth: Only people suffering from depression can be suicidal

In reality anyone with a mood disorder could have thoughts of death or suicide, including both depression and bipolar disorder.