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MYTH: Depression isn't really an illness.

FACT: The brain is an organ of the body that can get sick just like the heart, liver or kidneys. Chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters, regulate how people think, feel and act. The brain can get sick if these chemicals are out of balance or get disrupted, and the illness called clinical depression can result.

MYTH: All people who have depression appear to be sad.

FACT: There are many different symptoms associated with depression; sadness is only one of them. Some people have chronic anger, worry, panic or anxiety. Many hide their feelings of despair and smile to mask their pain.

MYTH: People with depression are weak and should be able to snap themselves out of it.

FACT: Depression doesn't have anything to do with a person's willpower or character. It is an illness that people can't talk themselves out of, just like people can't talk themselves out of a heart attack. Treatment is the best way to treat depression.

MYTH: Something bad has to happen to people in order for them to get depression.

FACT: Depression can happen at any time, even when a person's life is going well. Stressful events can trigger or exacerbate depression, but anyone can get depression regardless of age, race, economic status or environment. One in five Manitobans will have a depressive illness at some time in their lives.

MYTH: Most people with depression can't be helped.

FACT: Depression can be effectively treated in 90% of cases with a combination of medication and therapy . Unfortunately only 25% with a mental disorder obtain help; whereas 80% of people with heart disease seek and receive help.

MYTH: Depression is something to be ashamed of and you shouldn't talk about it with others.

FACT: People aren't ashamed of having other illnesses like heart disease or diabetes; they shouldn't be ashamed about having depression or any other mental illness either. If depression is discussed more openly, most people will recognize symptoms, and understand treatment options. Shame and stigma are the main barriers to seeking help.

MYTH: Depression isn't really serious.

FACT: Depression can be very serious if it goes undetected and untreated. Experts estimate that at least 80% of all suicides are a result of untreated depression. Untreated depression can also lead to unemployment, financial problems or substance abuse. In young people, it can cause problems at home, school and friendships.

MYTH: Asking someone if they have ever had suicidal thoughts will plant the idea in a person's head and possibly cause a suicide attempt.

FACT : Suicidal thoughts (in varying degrees) can be a symptom of depression. Some people when asked, will be truthful about their feelings and will be relieved to know someone cares enough to ask and assist them in getting help. In fact, it is more likely to help save a life when asking about suicidal thoughts.

MYTH: Suicides usually happen without warning.

FACT: Studies show that 80% of people who attempt or complete suicide will either hint at it or directly tell a friend or relative about plans for suicide. Some warning signs include : becoming happier or calmer after a major depressive episode, visiting or calling loved ones to say good bye, self-destructive behaviors, setting one's affairs in order, or giving possessions away.

Myth: You should always keep quiet about a suicide plan, if someone ask you to keep it a secret.

Never brush off suicide plans because you simply can't imagine your loved one to act on their thoughts. If someone confides to you a suicide plan or ideation, err on the side of safety and get the person to a hospital.



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