Myths about depression often separate people from the effective treatments now available. Friends need to know the facts. Some of the most common myths follow:
Myth: It's normal for teenagers to be moody; teens don't suffer from "real" depression. Fact: Depression can affect people at any age or of any race, ethnic, or economic group.
Myth: Teens who claim to be depressed are weak and just need to pull themselves together. There's nothing anyone else can do to help. Fact: Depression is not a weakness, but a serious health disorder. Both young people and adults who are depressed need professional treatment. A trained therapist or counselor can help them learn more positive ways to think about themselves, change behavior, cope with problems, or handle relationships. A physician can prescribe medications to help relieve the symptoms of depression. For many people, a combination of psychological therapy and medication is beneficial.
Myth: Talking about depression only makes it worse. Fact: Talking through feelings may help a friend recognize the need for professional help. By showing friendship and concern and giving uncritical support, you can encourage your friend to talk to his or her parents or another trusted adult, like a teacher or coach, about getting treatment. If your friend is reluctant to ask for help, you can talk to an adult - that's what a real friend will do.
Myth: Telling an adult that a friend might be depressed is betraying a trust. If someone wants help, he or she will get it. Fact: Depression, which saps energy and self-esteem, interferes with a person's ability or wish to get help. And many parents may not understand the seriousness of depression or of thoughts of death or suicide. It is an act of true friendship to share your concerns with a school guidance counselor, a favorite teacher, your own parents, or another trusted adult.