ABC Medical Center > Digital magazine > Debunk the myths about depression and mental health

Debunk the myths about depression and mental health

15 December 2022

Business men have meeting with psychiatrist to talk about business problems

Key points:

  • Depression is not only a state of mind, it has been detected that hormonal changes in the body can trigger it.
  • If the feeling of apathy or sadness lasts more than two weeks, it is recommended to see a specialist to treat these symptoms.
  • The use of medications such as antidepressants or anxiolytics have very good results if they are recommended by the specialist and taken correctly.

It is common to hear the phrase “cheer up” towards people who suffer from depression, says Dr. Ángel Alberto Ruiz Chow, specialist in adult psychiatry at ABC Medical Center. The reality is that there is strong scientific evidence indicating that depression is a disease that affects our neurotransmission, involving serotonin, adrenaline, dopamine, and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), among other chemical substances.

These chemical substances are found in our brains and if their transport is affected at neuronal level, there will be an imbalance that can result in depression, which must be treated by a specialist.

Psychotherapy makes it possible to treat depression at mild to moderate levels, through a process that can offer results similar to those obtained with some medications.

Some people have the false belief that crying or talking about sad things can trigger depression. Sadness is a normal emotion that everybody has, and crying is a physiological response that sometimes results from sadness.

But, if the feeling of sadness persists for more than two weeks, lasts almost all day, and makes it impossible to perform our daily activities, this can translate into a condition known as major depressive disorder.

Another recurring myth related to depression is the idea that if you ask someone if they want to commit suicide, they will begin to develop the idea of doing so. The reality is that by asking them about suicide you will be allowing them to express their emotions and, at the same time, fix any conflict that they may be having, so, with your support or that from a family member, they will be able to find a solution to problems that, from their point of view, may not have any solution. You can also offer help in finding a specialist on the subject, making the person feel that they are not alone.

Depression is a common disease worldwide, estimated to affect 3.8% of the population, including 5% of adults and 5.7% of adults over 60 years old. Approximately 280 million people have depression worldwide. Depression is different from normal mood swings and brief emotional responses to problems in everyday life. It can become a serious health problem, especially when it is recurrent and of moderate to severe intensity. It can cause great suffering to the affected person and disrupt their work, school, and family activities. At worst, it can lead to suicide. Every year more than 700,000 people commit suicide. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the 15-29 age group.1

Depression and medications

It is generally believed that antidepressants, medications used to fight depression, can create dependency. But contrary to this belief, they are medications that, with good control by both the doctor and the patient, do not create dependency. They are medicines intended for a long period of consumption (between nine and 12 months) when there has been one depressive episode; while patients with two depressive episodes may need them for up to two years without interruption. There are also some exceptional cases, where the patient will require treatment for life; but each patient is unique, as well as the treatment to be followed.

Anxiolytics, a medicine intended to treat the symptoms of anxiety, can have side effects related to memory problems. Dr. Ruiz says that anxiolytics should be prescribed for a period of around four to 12 weeks and with doses specifically prescribed by the treating physician. However, if the patient does not follow the correct indications or is prescribed by someone without the necessary knowledge, memory problems can arise, since consuming anxiolytics for a longer time than needed has been associated with them.

At ABC Medical Center’s Neurology Center, we can provide you with specialized care. Contact us!

Dr. Ángel Alberto Ruiz Chow – specialist in adult psychiatry at ABC Medical Center.
1 https://www.who.int/es/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression

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