Trigger Warning: this article discusses depression and its harmful effects. Some of the content and/or links may be upsetting.
By now, I’m sure you’re all aware that the world has lost a true legend. Robin Williams, that comedic genius who was responsible for some of the most iconic films and characters in recent years, committed suicide in his California home on Monday August 11.
Since his tragic passing, there have been countless tributes celebrating his life and work. For my tribute, I’d like to different approach and instead talk about depression, something that Williams allegedly suffered from for many years. Specifically, I want to tackle some of the many myths that surround this particular mental illness.
The first myth has to do with the misunderstanding about what depression actually is. When people think of depression, they often just assume that it’s a rather severe case sadness or grief. If depression was just a case of being sad, then the sufferer would feel better over time.
However, these feelings are a symptom rather than a cause. There are many reasons for depression, including chemical imbalances in the brain and trauma. Sometimes, there’s no clear cause at all. Regardless, it’s foolish and harmful to just write off depression as just being sad.
The next myth ties in with the previous one, and to me is one of the most harmful: people with depression should just “get over it”. People assume that all it takes to conquer depression is for the sufferer to “choose” to stop being depressed. Again, this comes from the idea that depression is just a bad case of sadness.
Because of this view, many people who suffer depression avoid treatment or openly discussing their problem with friends or family. For a lot of people the stigma attached to depression can mean help doesn’t come until it’s far too late.
Another misconception of depression is that it’s easy to spot someone who has it. The truth is that unless someone tells you they suffer from depression, you might never know. This video explains it better than I ever could:
This last myth is aimed at any fellow depression-sufferers out there. The first is medication is the only way to cure depression. While it is true that medication plays an important role in the treatment process (I’m on meds myself and have been for nearly a year), they are by no means the be-all-to-end-all. The only effective way to conquer depression is through a combination of medication, regular counseling and certain lifestyle changes.
I’d like to close with a sort of public service announcement. As someone who is currently suffering from depression, I’ve encountered all these myths at one time or another. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, do not brush it off or think that it will go away. Please seek help before it grows out of control.
A beautiful article on the link between depression and comedy by David Wong, editor of Cracked.com
In honour of Robin Williams, Jeremy Jahns reviewed the classic Disney film Aladdin. All money earned from ad revenue on this video goes to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, so feel free to share it around.