Depression is one of the most prominent mental diseases known to us today, yet there are still many misconceptions about it. There are some who believe that depression doesn’t really exist – they think that anyone who ‘acts’ depressed should just pull themselves together and get on with their lives.
There are also some who treat depression seriously – so seriously that they constantly control their environment to avoid anything that may make them feel depressed, even in the slightest way. And in between these two extremes, there are many stances on a topic that has divided not just common opinion, but professional opinion too.
So what can we establish about depression? What is there that we know, that we can agree on as fact?
I’ve identified four points about depression that I honestly believe are ‘true’ – they apply to anybody who suffers from depression, regardless of their own background or environment. I list these to try and provide some clarity on such a murky area.
Depression Can Not Be Cured By Medication
There’s a common misconception held by the majority of people that depression can be ‘cured’ by medication, particularly anti-depressants. I say this is a ‘misconception’ because there is much more to depression than just medical concerns. Yes medications help many people, but it is not necessarily a long-term cure.
When people go see the doctor complaining of depression, they would naturally expect their doctor to ‘solve their problem’ for them. They expect the doctor to make all their problems go away, because that’s what doctors do.
However, a standard medical doctor is not qualified to cure ‘mental’ issues – that’s what counselors and therapists are for. Instead, the doctor can only provide medicine or some form of prescription to take, or recommend further medical assistance if required.
A doctor cannot solve your mental dilemma. They can help you feel better momentarily but cannot change what is leading to depression in your life and in your mind. Medication is not going to cure depression because the cause of depression is not 100% biological – it’s also a cognitive issue. Mental issues are solved by someone who specializes in them, rather than by someone who specializes in medical issues.
Depression Originates From The Individual’s Thinking
Another key element of the view of depression is that many people think it is something that happens to them, like an accident or an unforeseen event. In this respect, depression is seen as something that’s external, or outside of us. However, as depression is a mental illness, then it must follow the rules of mental illnesses, and one of the rules of all mental illnesses is that they are psychological in nature.
Depression begins with a thought process. When someone experiences a negative situation, such as redundancy from work, then their thinking will be of a negative quality. They might berate themselves for any mistakes they made at work that may have led to their redundancy, they may scorn their employers for getting rid of them, or they may hate their colleagues who survived the redundancy instead of them.
Each individual will have a different thought process when faced with negative situations, and it’s this thinking that could potentially lead to depression. If an individual’s thinking becomes exhausting to the point where they’re struggling to think of anything else but the negative thoughts, then depression could set in. Such is the potency of negative thoughts and beliefs that the individual may start to lose a sense of reality, and feel that hope is abandoning them. Once this happens, depression is the result.
Depression Usually Comes About Through A Reaction
When someone becomes depressed, it isn’t down to an external event such as a breakdown of marriage or a loss of job. Instead, depression comes about through the individual’s reaction to this external event. To illustrate, let’s take two individuals as examples:
- Mark is a successful accountant who has a wife and two children. He has a nice house, nice car, and a good social circle. On the outside, everything seems to be fine for Mark, but if you were to look within, you could see that Mark isn’t so happy. His wife has become distant, and their marriage is beginning to fall apart. If things stayed like this, then it’s likely that Mark’s wife would file for divorce, and Mark is petrified of this. He begins to struggle at work as he lets his worries get to him, and his bosses call him in for frequent reviews. His children start avoiding him, and his friends can’t help but notice that Mark just isn’t the guy he used to be.
- Fiona is a successful store manager who is also married, and she also has two children. Again, on the outside everything seems fine, but there is trouble in paradise. Fiona’s husband is acting strangely, and their relationship is starting to fracture. If things kept on as they are, then her husband would likely file for divorce. Fiona doesn’t want this, but she’s determined to work things out with her husband, and continues to be the best wife and mother that she can be. She reasons that she doesn’t need to let this affect her – if it does happen, then she’ll be able to cope and move on.
The key difference between Mark and Fiona were their reactions to the prospect of divorce – Mark fell apart whilst Fiona carried on. From this, it’s likely that Mark will suffer from depression whereas Fiona won’t. Fiona knew that a possible divorce would only get her down if she let it, and so she carried on.
Mark believed that his marriage determined his happiness, and so he reacted to the prospect in the worst possible way. As a result, Mark is likely to become depressed whereas Fiona isn’t.
Depression Is A Limiting Belief
Although depression has gained association with ‘mental disorders’ and ‘mental illnesses’, I believe that at its core, it’s a limiting belief. Limiting beliefs are beliefs about ourselves that limit us in some way – they could be to do with any part of our lives, and they could affect us to any degree.
Not all limiting beliefs will relate to depression, but I believe that all forms of depression can be classed as a limiting belief. We all possess limiting beliefs – beliefs that hinder us and prevent us from living a life of happiness and fulfillment.
However, not all of us are depressed, so it stands to reason that depression could be connected to severe limiting beliefs. We can break our limiting beliefs and turn them into empowering beliefs, by changing the way we view them and other beliefs surrounding it. Depression works in the same way – in order to cure ourselves of depression, we must change the way we look at that which we’re depressed about.
Medication and hollow positive talk won’t achieve this – we must look at our own specific case of depression, be nonjudgmental and mindful, and then work to change our circumstances. Depression limits us, but only because we let it limit us.
This is a guest post by Stuart Mills. Millions of people worldwide are restricted from living the life of their dreams by the limiting beliefs that control them. If you want to break those limiting beliefs and live life your way, then visit Stuart Mills at Limitless Believing.