Myths and Mental Illness: Week 2

The following guest article from Swedish Health Services/Providence Health & Services is the second in a series debunking myths about mental illness that will be featured here on the SeattleNTC blog.

Myth #2: You can just “snap out of it”


We wouldn’t expect a person with a broken leg or diabetes to just” snap out of it,” and in the same way we shouldn’t expect a person to think their way out of a mental illness.

“This misunderstanding is harmful because it creates unreasonable expectations and unnecessary suffering for people who have mental illness,” said Robin Henderson, PsyD, chief executive of behavioral health for Providence Medical Group in Oregon.

Many complex factors can contribute to mental illness, including genetics, hormonal changes during pregnancy, chronic physical illness and even traumatic experiences.

“We need to realize that as humans, our mind and body are connected by more than our neck,” Dr. Henderson said.

When to get help

Everyone experiences difficult times in life, and sadness can be a normal reaction, but it usually lessens with a little time or is manageable.

“When the feelings persist to the point that your quality of life and daily functioning are affected, you should reach out for help from a professional,” Dr. Henderson said. “Depression is a real illness, and we know that many people who get treatment, get better.”

About 16 million Americans have depression. If you have been experiencing any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, you may be suffering from depression and should contact your primary care provider:

·       Changes in sleep or appetite
·       Difficulty concentrating
·       Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
·       Decreased energy
·       Low self-esteem
·       Feelings of hopelessness
·       Physical aches and pains

Sources: National Institute for Mental Health; National Alliance for Mental Illness.