During my time working as a therapist in the field of natural therapies it has come to my attention that there are many myths around both mental health and addiction. Please note, this piece of writing is purely my personal evaluation based on the experience I have had with my clients but I do advise seeing a professional if you have questions regarding your own personal situation.

Below are a few of the most common myths I hear…

Depression is genetic 

More often than not when a patient visits the doctor to express their concerns about their mental health they are told one of two things - either it’s hereditary or it’s a chemical imbalance. 

Previous studies have found a ‘depression gene’ (The chromosome 3p25-26) and it’s not questionable that a person who has depression may also have a mother, aunty or grandparent who has also experienced depression. 

The question that does arise though, is why has the patient been able to live a life free of depression prior to that point if the gene or chemical imbalance was always existent?

When a patient is ‘labelled’ with depression that’s either genetic or due to chemical imbalance it creates a loss of hope that there’s a solution to their problem. It persuades them to consider that this is a disease they will have to live with and learn to ‘manage’.

Medication is the only option

When a patient visits the doctor and is diagnosed with depression, anxiety or another mental health disorder they are prescribed medication to assist them in managing their symptoms and they often believe this is their only answer. 

What I find quite astounding, is the amount of people who start the medication prescribed to them without researching what they are actually putting in their body and the side effects it may have until it’s too late and they are already experiencing them.

If a person you didn’t know handed you a drink and asked you to drink it, would you drink it without hesitation or would you question what it is they have given you?

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The patient isn’t to blame, we don’t know what we don’t know and we visit a qualified professional hoping our health is in safe hands. Of course often it is in safe hands and I have many clients who have been able to naturally wean themselves off medication after healing the root cause of their poor mental health, however, I have also had others who have been on medication for so long that the medication itself has become their only option.

Addicts only consider themselves

I have seen the challenges loved ones of an addict go through and I can understand that based on their experience, it really does appear to them and society like addicts only consider themselves. Often there may be lying, stealing and aggression involved but underneath all of that is a person that feels insecure, helpless and ashamed. Almost every time I speak to a client who is seeing me to overcome addiction about their emotions, they express a lot of guilt and shame for ways they have behaved and people they have hurt. 

My personal evaluation..

Genes can play a part in a person’s mental health but it’s unlikely to be the root cause of the problem itself. 

When we take on our parents genes we can also take on certain pain, beliefs and memories that are stored within those genes. In saying this, the actual cause of reaching a point of depression is environmental. From a young age, we have been taught not to express our emotions due to the unconscious generations above us. Depression manifests from a heavy load of sadness that wasn’t properly processed during painful events earlier in life. This is why we are not born feeling depressed.

Medication can be a useful way to balance the mood and manage certain symptoms whilst a person seeks assistance in finding and overcoming the actual root cause of the dis-ease, however, if taken for too long they can end up causing more harm than good. In saying this, there are also many great natural alternatives to anti-depressants available .

When it comes to addiction, yes there is always a choice made to try the substance but a conscious choice is not made to become addicted. Often there are underlying mental health issues with a person before they even try the substance and after they do this then becomes their coping mechanism because they don’t know how else to cope with their underlying pain. Unfortunately when a person becomes addicted it can impact their behaviour towards others in a negative way but with the right support and professional help, it is possible to find peace again within the person who experienced addiction and in turn also the people around them.

Author: Chanel De King - Therapist and Healer at The Centre for Healing in Melbourne.
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