In spite of depression being a common illness, many myths and conceptions are associated with it. The stigma attached to mental disorders, in general, is responsible for some of these misconceptions. Also there is inadequate understanding among general practitioners and primary health-care physicians regarding appropriate diagnosis and treatment of depression. For these reasons a large number of persons suffering from depression do not seek help for treatment.
1.Myth- Depression is a problem of the Western industrialized world and not of developing countries.
Fact- Depression affects all people in all cultures across the world.
2. Myth- Depression is due to the influence of witchcraft, magic or sorcery.
Fact- Depression is like any other medical illness. It is caused by the interaction of biological and environmental influences and manifests in psychological and physical symptoms.
3. Myth-Even if depression is an illness, what can we do about it? We cannot treat it the way other diseases can be treated.
Fact- Depression is a treatable disorder. There are many drugs available even in developing countries which are effective and affordable.
4. Myth-Spending scarce resources for treating depression is wasteful expenditure when there are so many other communicable and non-communicable diseases needing attention and which are still not under control in developing countries.
Fact- Depression causes considerable suffering among patients worldwide. The burden caused by psychiatric disorders has been underestimated worldwide. At present out of the ten leading causes of suffering globally, five are psychiatric conditions including depression. By 2020, depression will become the second largest cause of suffering- next only to heart disease.
5. Myth- There is not enough and there will never be enough trained psychiatrists in the developing countries to look after all the cases of depression. The situation is hopeless and will never improve.
Fact- The number of psychiatrists is gradually increasing in the developing countries. Moreover all cases of depression do not have to be treated by psychiatrists. General practitioners and primary health-care physicians can satisfactorily treat this illness with some training.
6. Myth- Depression is one’s own creation.
Fact- This is completely false. The sufferers cannot be blamed for their illness.
7. Myth- Today’s competitive world predisposes a person to depression.
Fact- Yes, the world today is very competitive. This may lead to some anxiety and business loss can lead to a person being temporarily sad. However a person should be able to handle such situations in daily life.
8. Myth- If a person is depressed, there has to be an external factor bothering him.
Fact- External factors are not always necessary to make a person depressed. It is now known that chemical changes in the brain can lead to depression without any external precipitating factor.