The stigma surrounding people with serious mental illness is fueled by myths that perpetuate the idea that having schizophrenia or bipolar disorder is incompatible with integration into society. These are some of the false beliefs that persist:
“People with mental illness are more violent.”
“A schizophrenic kills his brother for a glass of milk.” Headlines like this draw powerful attention because they describe “aggressions without material benefit”.
But the global figures of violence are not related to psychiatric pathology. “For more than two decades, we have known from high-impact scientific publications that these people have less potential for aggressiveness than the rest of the population,” says Bob.
A mental health specialist nurse recounts the latest figures on aggressions and self-aggressions at the San Juan de Dios Center in Ciempozuelos (Madrid), where he works: “So far in 2018, only 12 aggressions and four self-aggressions have been recorded.”. Keep in mind that this is a population of about 400 patients.
“There are no effective treatments for serious psychiatric disorders.”
The belief that ailments such as psychotic disorders do not have proven treatments is another very common hoax in mental health. For example, Bob recalls that psychopharmaceuticals must “pass the same requirements for approval as any other drug aimed at pathologies such as cancer or diabetes. The law is the same.”
On the other hand, as occurs with other pathologies, “some psychiatric illnesses are cured and others, on the other hand, become chronic”. In this sense, he asserts that psychiatric treatments “have improved a lot”, although there are still “more serious illnesses in which only the symptoms are relieved, or their impact is improved”.
The treatments go beyond psychopharmaceuticals, which are an essential piece but “by themselves, they are not going to get the patient to lead a life as normal as possible .”
The patient’s rehabilitation will depend on the follow-up of the pharmacological and psychological therapy but on whether it is carried out, in the “adequate care device, with professionals with good training.” The team should consist of experts from different fields: psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and social workers.
Finally, the nurse cites two fundamental pillars: “the patient’s family and society”.
“Patients with serious mental illnesses cannot work or reintegrate into society.”
Some still insist on relating mental illness to a disability, which does not correspond to reality in many cases, including some of the most serious.
Babes debunk this myth by providing data on people with schizophrenia. Various studies show that a third of them “have a very good prognosis and, after a first psychotic episode, they respond so well to treatment that they no longer go to mental health facilities .”
Around another third do not evolve as satisfactorily and suffer exacerbations or relapses sporadically. “Sometimes they occur every five years, others every 10…, so they must have a follow-up and periodically go to mental health,” the psychiatrist relates, but adds that “they are stabilised, work and lead a normal life.”
Finally, around 30 per cent of these patients have a poor prognosis, and after the first exacerbation, it is impossible to reintegrate them into society, and they suffer permanent work disability.
Misconceptions about depression
Tranquillisers and antidepressants are addictive. We have all heard this statement at some point. However, there is no evidence that antidepressants create dependency. In the case of tranquillisers and sedatives, most are not addictive; at best, they can have a “withdrawal effect” (when treatment is stopped).
Depression is a very common disorder characterised by a mood disturbance in which a feeling of sadness predominates for no apparent reason and is almost always accompanied by anxiety. According to the Spanish Society of Psychiatry, it affects one in 5 women and one in 10 men; In Spain alone, there are between 1,200,000 and 1,500,000 diagnosed patients.
As with other pathologies, there are many myths surrounding depression. Experts deny some of the most popular.
Psychotherapy cures depression.
No study shows that psychological techniques eradicate major depression. However, they are very useful in people who suffer from certain depressive symptoms, such as adjustment disorders (effects of some adverse personal circumstances). In cases of major depression, pharmacological treatment is the only effective thing.
The treatment of depression is short.
Therapy for major (severe) depression should last at least a year. This duration is because it is a recurrent disease (that reappears). That is why the therapy is prolonged for a year when it appears for the first time, and the successive recurrences (reappearances of the disease) will be even longer.
When everything in life is going well for you, you can get depressed.
The causes of depression (why the illness appears) should not be confused with the triggers (the factors that reveal you are ill). For example, a person may be “brewing” depression and try to justify the symptoms (for example, overwork would justify apathy and exhaustion). However, the disease breaks out in the face of a vital event such as a family member’s death or job loss. Unfortunately, not everyone who suffers from these triggers becomes depressed. However, a very large percentage of people who do not experience adverse personal circumstances do.
Depression is a chronic illness that never completely goes away.
Chronic diseases accompany the patient from the moment they are contracted until the end of their life. With current drug treatments, specialists can eliminate all symptoms of depression in almost 90 per cent of cases. If it is well treated, depression subsides, although it is true that the symptoms can reappear at other times.
The psychologist is the professional who treats depression.
Psychologists can treat depressive disorders, a less serious disorder than depression. This is the subject of psychiatrists, although family doctors are the ones who most frequently detect the disease.
Some people feign depression to get sick leave.
Although the doctor can be fooled in some anecdotal cases, it is normally very difficult to simulate depression.
Optimistic and extroverted people do not get depressed.
Precisely the most extroverted and euphoric personality profile is the one that has a greater load of affectivity and, therefore, a greater risk of suffering from depression.