As university psychology students and psychology professionals, we know there are a lot of myths about depression and mental health conditions. All of these myths and misconceptions are extremely damaging and awful towards our clients. So in this clinical psychology podcast episode, you’re going to learn about some of these myths and what the truth is.
Because it’s only when we become aware of these myths can be deal with them.
This psychology podcast episode has been sponsored by Abnormal Psychology: The Causes and Treatments of Depression, Anxiety and More Third Edition. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can buy the paperback, large and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore or local library, if you request it.
3 Myths About Depression
Depression Is Something You Can Pull Yourself Out Of
To anyone who has read my book or done clinical psychology, this myth has probably shocked you and applause you. Because we know depression is not a choice and no one would want to choose to have the symptoms associated with depression. Since depression takes away a meaningful life and it has a lot of negative effects on the person, friends and family too.
So it isn’t a choice.
Therefore, the idea of depression is something so easy and simple a person can simply pull themselves out of it is silly.
It’s also extremely dangerous because it underestimates and undervalues what the person with depression is experiencing. Possibly resulting in them not seeking the professional help they need as well as this can be a massive barrier to therapeutic success. Due to the client could constantly be blaming themselves for not being able to pull themselves out of it.
Thus, as psychology professions we need to be aware of this myth and be prepared to tackle it in psychotherapy if needed.
You Must Have A Reason For Your Depression
This is something I’ve spoken about on the podcast before but lots of people seem to think depressed people have a reason to be depressed and something is wrong with them. Then they (mostly well-intentioned) that the client shouldn’t be depressed because there is nothing to be depressed about, they have everything.
Now, this is a problematic myth for two reasons.
The first reason is because depressed people feel guilty about being depressed and having something “wrong” with them. So by saying silly things like this people are only making the mental health condition worse.
Secondly, this links back to the first myth because it undervalues what the depressed person is experiencing. So what if they have everything, happiness isn’t actually measured in things and the things that truly make people happy aren’t tangible or asset based most of the time.
I’ll talk more about this in a future podcast episode.
Overall, when it comes to this myth, we need to make the client and those around them aware that depression doesn’t need a reason to exist. It’s just something that happens but it can be supported and the impact lessened.
Saying that whilst depression doesn’t need a reason to occur, sometimes there’s a reason why the depression manifests itself at a given time. For example in the Diathesis Stress Model, it is the stress of an event that activates the genetic factors of a condition that causes the mental health condition to manifest.
As well as in Formulation in Psychotherapy, I talk about what’s known as a CBT Formulation where you talk about precipitating factors. These are factors that caused the maladaptive behaviours.
But still depression itself does NOT need a reason to occur within a person, it is the combination of genetic and environmental factors that cause depression. And that isn’t a reason for it.
Only The Weak Get Depression
If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while then you might have laughed a little because you know I HATE these sort of silly societal myths. These are so outdated and old fashioned that I really don’t have any time for people who believe in those myths.
So some people believe that mental health and mental health conditions are made up and only weak, pathetic people get them.
This is absolutely rubbish because depression and other conditions are nothing to do with weakness or how strong you are. It is all to do with a set of genetic and environmental factors that interact with each other.
There is nothing to do with weakness or the type of person you are. And it should never, ever be used as a justification for discrimination. For example, women get depressed so it shows how weak they are.
This is outrageous.
And I could go into the reasons why governments will never take mental health as seriously as they need to because of this single myth and misconception. But I won’t.
Overall, as psychology students and professionals, we need to be aware that this is a massive and very common myth in society. We will face it too, lots of people think psychologists are fakes. Making up problems where they aren’t any.
But we will continue to fight these myths and continue to provide the best care we can for our clients. It’s our job to help alleviate psychological distress and improve lives.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode and I hope you've learnt something.
If you want to learn more, please check out:
Abnormal Psychology: The Causes and Treatments of Depression, Anxiety and More Third Edition. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can buy the paperback, large and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore or local library, if you request it.
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