At one point or another in their lives, depression affects millions of people. In fact, one of six people in the US suffers from depression, making it one of the most common – and yet one of the least understood –illnesses. Here are the four common beliefs about depression. Not recognizing them as myths could be a painful mistake.
Myth 1. Depression is just another word for unhappiness and sadness
It is normal to feel sad and tired once in a while. It is natural to grief after a loss of a loved one, a divorce, or learning of a serious health problem. But if the sadness persists day after day and month after month, it is a telltale sign of clinical depression. In people with depression, key brain chemicals get out of balance and it affects the normal functioning of the mind. This is a serious illness and must be treated as such. Delaying its diagnosis and treatment is a costly mistake.
Myth 2. Real men don’t get depressed
Men do suffer from depression, but in males the illness often manifests in different ways. Since childhood, men are conditioned to be strong, tough, and self-reliant, to focus on results rather than feelings, to compete and win rather than regret and self-pity. While women are more likely to curl up and cry, men tend to get irritable, restless, or even aggressive. As a result, men are much less than women to seek help. Some turn to alcohol and drugs, some suffer in silence, delaying a potentially very effective treatment.
Myth 3. Depression in older people is normal
Depression does tend to affect more people as we age, yet it doesn’t make it normal. Depression in seniors is frequently triggered by other medical problems, such as heart attack or major surgery; some medications (e.g., anesthesia drugs) are also known to cause or worsen depression. The good news is that appropriate medical treatment is can be very effective for the majority of seniors with depression.
Myth 4. Depression medications are ineffective and/or prone to have side effects
To be fair, there is some reason behind this belief. Psychiatrists have known for a long time that a treatment that is very effective for some people may do nothing (or require much higher dosage to be effective) for other. As a result, finding the right medication and the correct dosage can take patience – and may be frustrating at times. What is important to know is that the spectrum of available anti-depression medications is already quite broad and that new, hopefully even more precisely targeted, medications are in the development pipeline. The chances of successful treatment of depression are quite high.
Boston Clinical Trials is conducting several studies of new investigational medications for depression. Qualified participants receive all medications and tests free of charge and additional compensation for time and travel. To learn more about us and the depression studies we conduct, please call (617) 477-4868 or fill out the form online.