With the rising prevalence of mental disorders in Singapore today, it is surprising that stigma is still a major issue. Given the way media has a tendency to portray the mentally ill as madmen in straitjackets throwing themselves around a padded room, perhaps people can't be faulted for having completely false stereotypes about the mentally ill. However, this does not make it any less frustrating to be on the receiving end of such prejudice and discrimination. If anything, it only makes recovery all the more difficult. Three people who live with depression - the most common mental disorder among young adults of Singapore - share what they think is the most frustrating misconception.

Major depressive disorder (MDD)

Underlying the visible symptoms such as poor mood, loss of interest, guilt, and fatigue are not just chemical imbalances in the brain, but changes in brain structure altogether. For example, the area in your brain responsible for forming new memories has been found to shrink significantly .

1. It’s just a phase, you’ll grow out of it.

“It’s annoying because people don’t realise that depression is real. It’s not something you can just ‘grow out of’ and even when you eventually do get better, a piece of it is still lodged inside you and it’ll always be there,” says Alexis, a 20-year old BA Criminology and Security student.

2. But you don’t look sad.

Stating this as one of the most damaging response one could give to someone with depression, Jan, an 18-year old student taking her diploma in communication, explicitly states that she would never be friends with someone who says that. “Just because somebody doesn’t look sad,” she says. “Doesn’t mean the person cannot possibly have depression.”

3. You are sick, and hence cannot do anything.

Sheryl was patronised and treated like a child by her ex-best friend who had little faith in her capabilities, refusing to entrust her with even the simplest of tasks. Showing everyone else who thinks that depression leaves you incapable of doing anything, Sheryl is now in her final year of BA Psychology.

Published by Claire Leong