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Setting the Record Straight About Depression

Here are some common myths, and the facts behind them, about depression:

Myth: All young people get depressed. It’s just a normal part of growing up.

The truth: Feeling sad or unhappy is a normal part of growing up. Depression, however, is more than just feeling sad. It’s feeling miserable or upset to the point where it gets in the way of your day-to-day life for two weeks or longer.

Myth: Telling an adult that a friend is depressed is betraying that friend’s trust. If someone wants help, they’ll get it themselves.

The truth: Depression saps energy and self-esteem, so it can get in the way of a person’s ability to ask for help when they really need it. If you’re worried about someone, it’s far better to share your concerns with a trusted adult like a parent, teacher, supervisor or counselor, or other mental health professional. No matter what you promised to keep a secret, someone’s life is more important than a promise.

Myth: Binge drinking is just a normal part of growing up and does not have an impact on depression.

The truth: Binge drinking can put you at greater risk of depression. If you are depressed, alcohol consumption and binge drinking can exacerbate the symptoms.

Myth: A medical doctor is the best person to speak to if you think you might be depressed.

The truth: A medical doctor is a good person to talk to about depression and the treatments available, but not all doctors will necessarily be as good as others in diagnosing, talking about, and treating depression. It might be more helpful for you to speak with a trained counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist about your depression. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the National Boys Town Hotline at 1-800-448-3000.

Myth: People who are depressed need to wake up and stop feeling sorry for themselves.

The truth: People don’t choose to be depressed. Depression is an illness, and as such, it can be treated with the right help from mental health professionals. Knowing how to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression in yourself and others, and getting help early can help reduce the long-term effects of the illness.

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times. 

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