Clearing Up the Common Myths About Mental Health
The understanding of mental health issues is ever changing and evolving in different societies and cultures throughout the world. Although there has never been more increased awareness and available resources, there are still a lot of myths about mental health – perhaps because of the intractable stigmas around the subject.
Common myths about mental health and treatment for mental health remain stubbornly embedded. Studies from the World Health Organization show that up to 1 out of 4 people will experience some form of mental illness at some point in our lives. This is why debunking what is actually true or not when it comes to mental health is crucial.
Experiencing a mental health condition can be challenging, but it is also quite common. Treatment can be figured out based on your specific needs. Read on to learn about the most common myths about mental health debunked.
Myth: Mental Illnesses Are Not Real Illnesses
For a long time, mental illnesses were not understood. Many societies and cultures around the world have different stigmas when it comes to mental illness. However, the fact is that mental illness is a real illness.
There are many different types of mental illnesses, and they should all be taken seriously. Mental illnesses create distress and don’t go away on their own. Like any other health problem, mental illnesses have effective treatments that can help you on the road to recovery.
Myth: If You Take Medication, You Have to Take it Forever
Myths about managing mental illness with medication can be frustrating. Medication for mental illness ranges from being an absolute necessity for some to be ineffective for others.
One of the most damaging myths about medication and mental illness is that if you take medication, you won’t ever be able to get off it. If we want to take it a step further, the myth that being on medication forever is bad in itself is also harmful.
Many people worry that taking medication such as psychotropic medication “alters” the chemicals in the body and brain. This misconception is completely inaccurate. Studies show that the right medication stabilizes the neurotransmitters in the brain, and taking it long term can be beneficial to those who need it.
Myth: Depression Is Something You Can “Snap Out Of”
This is a common myth about depression. This idea that you can “snap out of it”. Depression is not a choice. Like many other mental health illnesses or mood disorders, hearing this phrase can be not only frustrating but counteractive to recovery.
The cultural stigmas surrounding depression are so pervasive that many people don’t even realize that depression is an illness that requires medical attention. Depression is actually highly treatable.
Those struggling with depression should seek help, get support, and figure out their options for treatment. It is not something that you can “snap out of”.
Myth: Talk Therapy will Fix It
Contrary to popular belief, talk therapy isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Therapy is a different experience for everyone. There are also many different types of therapy beyond traditional talk therapy, such as equine therapy, adventure therapy, and many somatic (body) therapies that have also been very effective for some.
When some people hear that someone is dealing with mental illness, therapy is usually the first recommendation. However, the myth that talk therapy will always fix the illness is not true. Each individual, depending on their needs, may react to talk therapy differently.
For example, some types of depression are more treatment-resistant. Certain situations may mean that therapy alone isn’t enough for improvement and recovery. There are also a lot of other factors to consider. Having the right fit for a therapist, the timing of your recovery, and if you are willing to work hard yourself are all important to getting better.
Myth: Mental Illness Is Forever
Your brain is a wondrous thing. It is capable of adapting, growing, and changing throughout your life. This concept is called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity means that the misconception that once you’re diagnosed with a mental illness you will have it forever, isn’t necessarily the case.
While it is true that some illnesses are harder to treat than others, many mental illness symptoms can improve dramatically over time. Especially when receiving the right treatment. Mental illness may be something you manage over the span of your lifetime, or it may be something you move on from.
Myth: If You’re More Positive, You Can Fix Your Mental Illness
This is one of the worst myths about mental illness. Many people believe that those who are struggling with mental illness may be able to fix all of their problems if they looked at life with a more positive outlook.
Similar to exercise, things like optimism and positive thinking can be beneficial as part of an overall treatment plan for someone dealing with depression or mental illness. But positive thinking alone won’t heal underlying and subconscious negative thought patterns.
Suggesting that being more positive can help make someone struggling with depression feel better may actually have the opposite effect. Often times, they are already dealing with various feelings of guilt and frustration. Trying to layer on a false sense of positivity may actually create more anxiety and feelings of failure.
Debunking Common Myths about Mental Health
Mental illness is not something to be ashamed of. Everyone can benefit from taking care of their mental health, no matter where they are in their lives.
Mental illnesses are real illnesses that can be severely crippling. Recognizing the common myths about mental health is extremely important to start the road to recovery. Only when you know the difference between what is true and false can you find the best treatment option plan for your situation.
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