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March 2024

Know the Truth About Depression

Depression is a common, serious illness—and one that’s frequently misunderstood. How much do you really know about depression? Here’s the truth about four oft-repeated myths.

Myth: Depression is always caused by something bad happening.

Truth: Stressful events, such as a loved one’s death, may increase a person’s risk for depression. But other factors, such as genes and brain chemistry, can also play a role. Plus, a health problem such as cancer, stroke, or chronic pain can make depression symptoms worse.

Myth: Sadness is the main symptom of depression for everyone.

Truth: Depression affects how you get along in daily life for weeks on end. Long-lasting sadness is just one possible symptom. Others include:

  • Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed

  • Feelings of hopelessness

  • Tiredness and low energy

  • Irritability

  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly

  • Trouble sleeping

If you’re experiencing such symptoms, discuss them with your healthcare provider. If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, get help right away. Go to the emergency room or call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 800-273-8255.

Myth: Depression isn’t a true illness.

Truth: Depression is a medical illness, not a character flaw. There’s no shame in seeking help for it, just as you would for arthritis or diabetes.

Myth: There’s nothing you can do about depression.

Truth: Depression is treatable, even when it’s severe. See your healthcare provider, who may recommend treatment with medication, talk therapy, or both. Your provider may also suggest strategies that help you build resilience—the ability to adapt well to tough situations. One helpful strategy is reaching out to family and friends to avoid isolation.

Have Medicare? Medicare covers screening for depression once a year by your healthcare provider. This screening involves answering a few questions that help pick up signs of depression. Being open in your answers is a simple but powerful way to take care of yourself.




Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals, MPH, BSN, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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