5 myths about depression: What you should know

5 myths about depression: What you should know

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 The death of Robin Williams is shining the spotlight on the dangers of depression.  It's a mental illness that often goes untreated because of the misconceptions that surround it.

When it comes to depression, it's important to dispel the myths.  Forbes.com came up with five common myths about depression:

1. Depression equals sadness.
You might automatically think of sadness when you think of depression.  Many people who knew Williams have said they never saw him unhappy. While some suffering from depression may show signs of being unhappy, the National Institute of Mental Health says many people suffering from depression may feel emptiness, have difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.  

2.  Depression is a sign of mental weakness.
This is part of the reason many people don't talk openly about depression, yet when someone we know suffers from cancer or heart disease, we don't see them in the same way.  Depression is a mental disorder, and there are biological and psychological issues at stake.  Even people who are considered strong and confident may be struggling inside.

3.  Depression stems from a situation.
There's a myth that depression stems from a particular incident, like the death of a loved one or a relationship that has ended--but there doesn't have to be a reason.  Typically, a diagnosis occurs for anyone who suffered from a prolonged episodes of hopelessness, emptiness and lethargy.  This can happen even if everything in their life seems good.  

4.  It's all in your head.  
We usually associate depression with emotions, but you'll notice physical symptoms, too.  They can range from exhaustion to indigestion to difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest and chronic muscle aches.

5.  Depression diagnosis equals long-term medication.
Antidepressants are commonly used to treat depression, along with therapy, but to say you're resigned to a life of antidepressant medication is not true.  Some people will feel no benefit at all from medication, and therapy will work better for them.  In some cases, people who use antidepressants can gradually go off of their medication under a doctor's supervision.

Dr. Mike Cirigliano says there are some important signs and symptoms to look for when it comes to identifying depression.  They include:
- unhappiness
- loss of interest
- change in sleep and appetite
- loss of energy

If you're suffering or know someone how might be, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help.  That number is 800-273-TALK (8255).

For more information, click here: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

- CrisisLink Regional Hotline
703-527-4077

- CrisisLink Regional Textline
703-940-0888

- National Hopeline Network
1-800-SUICIDE

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