It’s Not All In Your Head: Depression Myths

Today is World Mental Health Day and I would be remiss if I did not post. Globally, over 300 million people are suffering from depression. My own struggle with depression was a big reason why I started this blog. There are so many myths about depression which continues to be one of the main reasons why mental health issues are still a stigma in our communities.

It’s not all in your head.

This is a common depression myth. It’s not all in your head, you aren’t making it up. What you are experiencing and feeling is very real. So real, in fact, that you can experience physical symptoms of depression. It can change your sleeping habits, eating habits, mood, and overall health.

You’re not just sad.

Also a common myth. Serious depression goes beyond sadness. Depression can cause feelings of guilt, discontent, agitation, anger, hopelessness, and isolation. Equating depression to “just being sad” is dismissive and dangerous.

You can’t just snap out of it and simply choose to be happy!

For one reason or another, many believe that depression is a choice. Nobody wakes up one morning and says “I choose to be depressed today.” I wrote a whole post on this myth, check it out here.

You’re not too young to be depressed.

Depression does not discriminate based on age. The first time I can recall feeling depressed was at 12. Some may say that’s too young, but as a twelve-year-old, I fantasized about killing myself more often than I’m proud to admit. As a preteen then I constantly felt like life would be much better if I wasn’t alive. I once read an article that talked about an eight-year-old who committed suicide… EIGHT. No one is exempt from depression.

Black people do get depressed.

Speaking of nobody being exempted. My people, that includes you. We aren’t an exception. We don’t have to remain strong in all situations. African Americans are 20% more likely to experience mental health issues than the general population but are the least likely to seek help or treatment.

Depression is not a sign of weakness or lack of strength.

I loathe hearing this so much. Depression doesn’t mean you are weak or lacking strength. We are all human. As humans, we feel emotions, some more than others. We are not robots that are incapable of being affected by the everyday happenings of life.

It’s not just women.

Remember, depression doesn’t discriminate. Statistically, women do suffer at higher rates than men but that does not mean that there aren’t men suffering. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate among American men is about four times higher than among women. Hear from black men who’ve sought treatment

Other people may have it much worse, but you’re hurting too.

Often times we invalidate our pain because we feel like we have no right to complain when others have it worst. Many people don’t believe mental illnesses are real illnesses. Yes, there are people who physically suffer every day, there are some who are bedridden, handicapped, etc etc. But this does not negate the fact that you feel pained as well.

Everyone’s depression won’t look the same.

There’s no cookie-cutter image of what depression looks like for everyone. Some people won’t even “seem” depressed. There are people who can hide their feelings and appear to be the happiest in the room. Some mask their pain in other activities. Some over-work or exercise, other’s may drink or smoke their pain away.

You don’t need a reason to be depressed.

It’s not always a traumatic event or set of events, that sparks depression. It can seem to come out of nowhere or build up over time. This is another way feelings are invalidated, “you don’t have anything to be depressed about” is a common phrase.

More often than not, you can’t pray it away.

This one will upset some folks. I was once told I wasn’t praying hard enough to make my depression go away. I was also told that it was a demon that could be prayed out. This is not to bash anyone’s religious beliefs and their methods. I’m also not saying to NOT pray, I am saying you do not have to rely on prayer alone. Seek help outside of your religious affiliation to receive a form of unbiased help and treatment.

If you are or think someone you know maybe, experiencing depression, don’t be afraid to seek help. This could simply be confiding in a loved one, meditation, or seeking therapy. Take care of you.

 

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24 Comments

  1. Reply

    Natasha Nicholes (@NatashaNicholes)

    November 8, 2017

    Lord, I could STAY in you comment section with some of the stuff that I’ve had to say to family, friends AND church folks when I started talking openly about my depression. Prayer is wonderful, but I do believe that the Lord provided resources for a reason. And the black people not getting depressed mythos is maddening! Thank you for talking about these myths today!

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      November 9, 2017

      Thank you for being open about your own journey! That’s what’ll help depression not be such a stigma in our community, more people talking about it.

  2. Reply

    Monique Tillman

    November 8, 2017

    Thank you so much for this post. Thank God for therapist because seeking help was hard. Understanding that I was and still am depressed is hard. People down play your feelings. They think it’s easy to come out of this state, but it’s hard. So thank you again.

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      November 9, 2017

      I’m so glad you sought help, so many don’t because of myths like these! Keep fighting 🙂

  3. Reply

    Sheena Steward

    November 8, 2017

    This was awesome! I struggled with depression during college. I wrote a blog about it and got a lot of positive response from it. Thanks for writing this it was well written and I could relate.

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      November 9, 2017

      Can you post the link to the post? I’d love to check it out!

  4. Reply

    BehindTheSchmile

    November 9, 2017

    If there was a lit of myths that needed to be addressed THIS IS IT! This post honestly speaks for itself! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      November 9, 2017

      Thank you!!

  5. Reply

    danasiafantastic

    November 9, 2017

    I love that you addressed the fact that black people and men both get depressed. It’s so true!

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      November 9, 2017

      Yeah, men think they’re either exempt or weak for struggling and that’s just not the case.

  6. Reply

    Carissa (The Green Eyed Lady)

    November 10, 2017

    Great Read and VERY TRUE!!! Love that you are addressing the hard topics that no one is exempt!

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      November 10, 2017

      Thank you!!

  7. Reply

    Kita

    November 10, 2017

    Thank you for sharing this. All facts. People need support instead of convince you that nothing is wrong.

  8. Reply

    mimicutelips

    November 10, 2017

    I’m so happy you cleared up these misconceptions. My BFF is currently dealing with depression. I check on her constantly to gage how she is doing. I also constantly reassure her.

  9. Reply

    Joyce Brewer (@MommyTalkShow)

    November 10, 2017

    So many African Americans suffer in silence. We bury our feelings and our traumas in an effort to move on. But until we address these issues, many of us are stuck.

  10. Reply

    Crystal Lewis

    November 10, 2017

    Great post! I pray everyday that our culture makes the shift to seek help when they feel helpless. It’s easy to sink into depression, and much harder to get out if you don’t have the right people to help you out.

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      November 10, 2017

      That’s my hope as well, we’ve come far but have so much farther to go.

  11. Reply

    beautythatwalks

    November 10, 2017

    It’s hard to tell when someone is suffering from depression as this feeling can be well hidden under the perfect smile. It’s good to be kind and respectful to others. You don’t know what they are going through or how they feel inside.

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      November 10, 2017

      Very true!

  12. Reply

    EG III

    November 10, 2017

    I can say from my own past experience that sometimes pride is a big factor in not seeking help for depression. It’s important to recognize the warning signs and initiate help as soon as possible. A friend of mine from my days of football who I always admired for his on field abilities took his own life after a bout with depression I didn’t even know he was battling.

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      November 10, 2017

      Many times so many around us are suffering and we’d never even know it. Hopefully, with the conversation gaining traction, more people would be open to it.

  13. Reply

    biancadottin

    November 10, 2017

    THANK YOU FOR THIS! This post was well needed. It’s sad that so many people suffer in silence and when they do get help they are shamed for it.

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      November 10, 2017

      So very true, especially in our community!

  14. Reply

    Kiwi

    November 14, 2017

    Depression is a real human thing. I think it is so many stigmas around it and black people think they can just pray it away or it will just go away on it own. If not taken care of properly it can manifest into something bad so everyone who is suffering should seek profesisonal help.

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