Myth 1: Difficult life situations cause depression
Difficult life situations are not the cause of depression, what causes depression is how we cope with the difficult life situation. One person can suffer from a tragic experience and not be depressed, while a relatively trivial problem can send someone else into a severe depression.
Myth 2: Depression is an illness you can get again and again
It isn’t depression that is recurrent, but the difficulties that life throws at us that keep on producing depression. If you react to difficult circumstances in the same way each time, depression will keep manifesting.
Myth 3: Depression is passed down to children genetically.
Despite extensive research, a ‘depression gene’ which makes more than a marginal contribution to depression has never been found. And it seems unlikely that it ever will be. What may be picked up by children from their parents are inadequate ways of coping with difficult life situations, which makes them more prone to depression themselves, should they go on to experience difficulties.
Myth 4: Depression is always an unnecessary additional problem
Depression is a sign that something is wrong. It should be viewed as a signal from the person about their current situation, not as an extra, unrelated condition that needs to be managed throughout their lives by long-term therapy or anti depressant drugs. Although drugs can be helpful in some situations, they should be viewed as a last resort.
Myth 5: Depression is anger turned inwards
The myth that depression is ‘anger turned inwards’ has no biological basis. As we know from the expectation fulfilment theory of dreaming, every night we dream to dearouse emotions from the day before, so anger cannot be ‘turned inwards’ in the long-term.
Myth 6: Depression is a biological illness
Depression is NOT a biological illness. Of course there is a biological element to depression (every thought and emotion we feel affects the levels of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin), but there is no evidence that the cause is biological. Research shows that the vast number of depressions lift when treated with effective psychological therapy. This could not happen if depression were a biological illness. If you have been told that you have an illness caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain that you can’t help, this is disempowering you. Our position – that worrying about emotional needs that are not being met in your life causes depression – is not only more scientifically accurate, it is the most empowering thing you could know about depression. The reason being that it means, either that you can be in charge of your own recovery, or that someone else who understands why people get depressed can help you recover.
Myth 7: Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance
For the same reason, it is a myth that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Our levels of serotonin fluctuate constantly depending on our mood and how we feel about ourselves. If we are depressed, we have low levels of serotonin, whereas, when we are positive and acting positively, levels of serotonin are high. It is the depressed mood that causes changes in brain chemistry, not the other way around. Another fact that confirms the chemical imbalance idea is wrong is that, in 75 percent of cases, depression gets better on its own within 6 months without chemical intervention.