When it comes to mental health issues of all kinds, there remains an alarming amount of misinformation and misconception that may be preventing people from getting the help they need. This is especially true of one of the more common mental health disorders — depression.
At the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry, Dr. Diana Ghleber and our team feel that patient education is one of the most important steps in taking charge of your health and wellness.
To that end, here’s a look at some of the more common myths and facts about depression to give you a clearer idea about the problem.
Myth: You’re alone in your depression
While it may feel like you’re the only one who suffers from major depressive episodes, they’re far more common than you may think. More than 17 million adults in the United States (7.1% of the population) have had at least one major depressive episode.
Breaking these numbers down a little further, the prevalence of depression among the two genders is different — 8.7% of females versus 5.3% of males.
When it comes to age, the highest rates of depression are found in young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 (more than 13%).
Myth: Depression is a single illness
Depression can manifest in many ways outside of a major depressive episode and be brought on by different factors.
For example, 80% of new mothers experience a change in their moods during the first few weeks after childbirth thanks to hormonal fluctuations. Usually, these mood disorders regulate themselves as hormone levels return to normal, but 10-15% of new mothers go on to have a major depressive episode within three months after giving birth, and we label this postpartum depression.
Another example of depression is seasonal affective disorder, which is triggered by the change in seasons. About 5% of the population in the US experiences seasonal depression.
Bipolar disorder is another mental health disorder that often falls under depression, but it differs greatly from typical depression because it includes episodes of mania.
Myth: Depression is just a mental problem
Depression goes far beyond affecting your moods and can cast a wide net over your physical health, too. Many people with depression report problems with body aches, headaches, increased sensitivity to pain, and more. In fact, untreated depression can lead to serious health consequences like cardiovascular disease.
Myth: Depression runs in the family
While there may be a genetic component when it comes to depression, it isn’t all that large. Of those who have a close relative with depression, only 10-15% also struggle with depression.
Myth: Depression is a normal part of aging
While it’s true that older adults are more at risk of developing depression, we certainly don’t consider the problem to be normal. As you get older, your physical health begins to decline — 80% of the older adult population in the US has at least one chronic health condition and 50% have two.
The presence of these chronic health conditions can make you more prone to depression, especially if you require care. To put some numbers to the problem, the CDC reports that major depression among older people who live in a community setting is only 1-5%. This number jumps to 11.5-13.5% for those who require home health care or hospitalization.
While the older adults may be more at risk, we reiterate that we don’t consider depression a normal part of aging and there’s much we can to improve your quality of life at any age.
Myth: Only medications can treat depression
While a psychopharmaceutical approach is certainly valid and researchers have made great strides in developing effective medications, this isn’t the only approach. Talk therapy, ketamine infusion therapy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation can also play key roles in resolving depression.
If you have more questions about depression, please contact one of our two offices in Fort Worth or Granbury, Texas, for a consultation.