I know, I know. I haven’t posted a “Student Says…” in some time. I really do apologise.
I have been dealing with an issue that I touched on in my last post, that of mental disorders. It really shouldn’t surprise me, after all, about 20% of teenagers will experience depression before they reach adulthood, and then the depression generally lasts 8 months at a time.
Alarming statistics, aren’t they?
As such, I’m trying to help raise awareness for depression, and, in the spirit of my posts, rant and rage against some common myths and misconceptions about depression that society, and through society, teenagers, have accepted as the truth for a very long time.
- Depression will never affect me.
Yes, it will. What part of “20% of people will experience depression at some stage in their life” do you fail to grasp? Depression affects almost everyone these days. You may not suffer from it directly, but someone you know and, god forbid, actually care about could suffer from it. It is an incredibly common disorder, and yet society still shuns those affected by it.
- You can just “snap out of” depression/ Depression is a “choice”
Let me make one thing very clear. Depression is not a choice. You do not choose to feel crap all the time. You do not choose to feel like the worst thing to ever walk to Earth. You do not choose to hate and fear yourself.
Depression is a medical disorder. You don’t go up to someone with cancer and tell them to “snap out of it”, do you? If you do, I’m glad I don’t know you. Nor should you do that to someone who is depressed. It’s more likely to make the depression worse, and sadly, in more cases than not, lead to suicide. Depression, like any other medically diagnosed disease, takes time to treat and cure.
- Depression will go away on it’s own.
I marvel at the stupidity of human beings sometimes, I really do. Does the bubonic plague go away on it’s own? No, it stays there, makes life a living hell, and eventually kills you. Do lawyers and telemarketers go away on their own? No, they hang around like the bloodsucking parasites they are until you fire them or hang up on them. Depression needs treatment, otherwise, the symptoms become worse and worse. Would it shock you to know that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 18-24 year olds, regardless of gender/socio-economic status?
- Medication changes people’s personality.
This is an extremely common one, and admittedly, one that I used to believe too. Turns out, they don’t. Antidepressants do change brain chemistry, this is true. However, they only target very specific chemicals that are related to depression. They do not completely alter a personality. In fact, most users of antidepressants actually feel happy to be themselves.
So there you have it. Depression is a disease, one that takes time to treat effectively, usually with antidepressants that don’t change people at all. It is not a choice, it does not go away if you ignore it, and it affects 1 in 5 students before they reach adulthood. And yet society still insists on treating sufferers like pathetic, lazy, wastes of space. It seems depression is now the new leprosy.
Our society really needs to get it’s act together regarding depression. Depression, if treated, is curable. Easily so. 3/4 sufferers, after treatment, were no longer depressed. But until we dispel this taboo, we are failing the 20% who, through no choice of their own, are afflicted with this disease. And that is something I cannot tolerate.