The Philippines has recognized depression as a severe health condition. But to this day, there are still widespread misconceptions about depression.
An estimate of more than 3.3 million Filipinos are suffering from depression and the young population is the new high-risk group.
The World Health Organization reported that eight Filipinos in every 100,000 people commit suicide; most aged between 15 to 29 years old. The adolescent to adult population may experience depression at some point in their lives.
Sadly, throughout the Philippines, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health and the public’s general knowledge of mental health problems is often rife with misconceptions about depression and other mental health conditions.
Here are just some of the common misconceptions about depression
1. One of the common misconceptions about depression is that it is not real
One of the most common misconceptions about depression is that many people still associate it with being miserable or being a person with weak character. All too often it is not even considered as a “real” illness.
A depressed person can feel disconnected. Because of their condition, their relationships can suffer. Depression can cause a substantial amount of anxiety and affects the normal day-to-day activities of a person, resulting in considerable mental, social, academic, and occupational difficulties.
Depression can require care in the long term and is not always easy to overcome. The family, friends, and the school must acknowledge this condition and become the most reliable support system to combat this condition.
2. Another one of the misconceptions about depression is that it can go away on its own
This statement is another common misconception about depression that can significantly affect the condition of a depressed person. It is the same as saying that depression is all in your head, and you can snap out of it.
Psychiatrists acknowledge positive thinking can help a person to a certain extent; however, this can not be the only treatment plan that we should have.
A tailor-fit treatment plan is essential in overcoming depression. Depression therapies are successful and enable the patient to return to their regular daily routine. Aside from that, treatment will help with coping to help manage symptoms and other stressors.
If not appropriately treated, depression can continue for months or even years without seeking help, which can eventually lead to self-harming behaviors, including suicide.
3. Medication will be part of your daily life
It is essential to understand that the treatment plans may be long-term, depending on the gravity of the condition. The period a person will undergo medication will depend on how well the patient can manage the symptoms and its stressors.
In other cases, it may be strictly beneficial to take anti-depressants in combination with behavioral therapy/psychotherapy, or simply counseling. Either way, there is no evidence to support the argument that for the rest of your life, you will need medicine.
In addition to the treatment plans, the availability of a reliable support system, their willingness to help, and become part of the solution will be essential to recovering.
A strong depression support network can also help by encouraging you to:
- Get regular exercise
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule
- Create and adhere to a daily schedule
- Eat a healthy diet
- Take your medication as prescribed
- Go to therapy appointments
4. Anti-depressants will change your personality
One of the common misconceptions about depression is that anti-depressants can alter behavior. But a study reported in the journal Psychological Bulletin, mental health treatments (including antidepressants), can influence behavior positively.
Patients report that taking medications or antidepressants makes them feel more like themselves again, supporting the findings of the study that these medications only target brain chemicals linked to depression, helping them to go back to their regular routines.
5. Depression is only for women
One of the common misconceptions about depression is that it only affects women. This is still rampant because the Filipino society is patriarchal.
Due to social expectations, people may not be as likely to accept or announce it. Social and cultural expectations make it difficult for men to display weakness, express their feelings, or seek support. Some men fear that admitting depression will make them appear weak or less masculine.
Consequently, men are not as likely to recognize their symptoms, address their problems, or seek counseling.
Concerning this, the World Health Organization reported last 2017 that six out of 100,000 people committing suicide are male. There have been previous reports last 2019 of male celebrities who suffered from depression and ultimately ended their own lives.
The Department of Health encourages everyone, mainly male, to openly discuss any feelings of depression to your loved ones or seek assistance from a professional.
6. You’re most likely to develop depression if your parents have it
Once again, a common misconception about depression that needs debunking. This statement only causes a certain level of discrimination and panic, which can start from a young age.
Imagine going to a family gathering and your relatives warning you that eventually, you will also acquire this condition This is also like pre-setting your brain that this is inevitable.
Although depression indeed has a genetic aspect, it doesn’t automatically mean that children like their parents are doomed to grow and suffer depression. Sure, depression is inherited, but genetics seems to affect a person’s vulnerability and sensitivity rather than the condition’s actual growth.
While being conscious of family history is practical, dwelling on it is not sensible. Focusing on factors that reduce the risk of depression, such as avoiding drug use and self-care practice, is a better use of time and resources.
The Department of Health reminds everyone that depression is a serious topic and that the common misconceptions about it need to be discussed. And ultimately Filipinos must work together to end the stigma surrounding this sensitive health condition. It is always advisable to see someone right away if you feel you want to hurt or kill yourself.
Seeking professional help is the first step to understanding depression, and openly discussing the treatment plans with your loved ones will be very beneficial.
“To those in need of help, we have a 24-hour toll-free suicide prevention hotline. You can call (02)804-4673; 0917-5584673 or send an SMS to 2919 for Globe and TM subscribers,” the Health Department also said.
Learn more about how to have a Healthy Mind here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.