Hey there, Badgers! To start off Wellness Week at Brock, I thought I’d write a piece about one of the most common and most commonly misunderstood mental illnesses. Sure, we’ve all heard of depression, seen it on the news and tv, seen it in real life, and heard about it from all sides, but what’s true and what’s just mistaken information?

  • “Depression is the same thing as being sad.”

This is the most common way people oversimplify depression. While feelings of unhappiness play a large part, this is not the only symptom. Those suffering from depression tend to feel apathy, loneliness, hopelessness. They might lack motivation, feel angry or irritable, pessimistic, slowed down, have trouble concentrating, have lowered self esteem, and may have comorbid conditions like anxiety. On top of that, depression manifests itself in many different ways for different people. One set of symptoms might not be the exact same as someone else’s symptoms. Someone with depression may not recognize they have it if they assume that sadness is the defining symptom and they aren’t aware of all the other signs.

  • “You’re in a bad mood, you just have to snap out of it.”

Depression is not the same as being in a bad mood. Most diagnoses of depression look for long standing changes or development of symptoms lasting at least two weeks or more. Mood changes are a normal part of everyday life, but prolonged shifts in mood, motivation and behaviour that begin to negatively affect your life in noticeable ways should be acknowledged and addressed. This is not to discount negative moods that are a part of everyday life, but they are two different things that should be handled in different ways.

by Ryan McGuire via Gratisography

  • It’s all in your head.”

Depression encompasses many facets of life including the mental, physical, and social and is not restricted to mental/emotional symptoms. Depression can accompany drastic changes in appetite (increase or decrease), disrupted or excessive sleep, and decreased sex drive. Recent research has also been looking at the effects of depression on other health factors such as obesity and insomnia.

  • Depression is always caused by some outside event.

Depressive episodes can often have no real cause. A big misconception is that symptoms only follow a negative life event, which isn’t true. Depressive episodes can often occur randomly, with no real cause. They can be intermittent or long lasting and with varying severity. It’s important to note the difference between depression and a natural reaction to a negative life event. Of course, negative events can be triggers for depressive episodes, but it’s important to remember that that’s not always how it works.

  • “If you have depression, you’ll be reliant on medications for the rest of your life.”

There are numerous ways to treat depression, and not all therapies work for every patient. Medication is only one of the options, and it’s important to remember that effectiveness varies for each person, and on top of that it can take a while to find the right type of treatment or medication. Cognitive behavioural therapy has been shown to be effective and in some cases medication isn’t needed at all to manage depression. It’s definitely important to do your research and find the best options that suit you best.It’s important to remember that depression is something that requires regular care and management. Often it’s not obvious that someone is living with depression. Someone suffering from depression may not even know they have it because of all these misconceptions that make it harder to understand what exactly mood disorders like depression are.

by Todd Quackenbush via Unsplash

Hopefully some of these cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about mental illness. Here are some resources if you want to learn more about depression:

CAMH: Depression

Public Health Canada

 Canadian Mental Health Association – Niagara

Brock also offers free counselling for students. If you’re feeling stressed or just need to talk out some issues, you can find the information to book an appointment here.

Don’t forget to check out all the events and services that Brock is offering this week! There’s a puppy room, nap room, free cupcakes, and July Talk is playing at Isaac’s tomorrow (Tuesday, November 25, doors open at 8pm). To keep up with the rest of wellness week, go here for a full schedule of upcoming events and take advantage of everything they have to offer! Until next time. Stay happy and healthy, Badgers!