Although in psychology a specific terminology is used to refer to the different psychological states, disorders, experiences and feelings, we are the people who live these experiences every day and we know each other well, but sometimes we can get confused. That is, we have all been sad, or we can go through very bad times emotionally , but if we have heard that depression is similar to sadness, we can consider that we are depressed or even going through a disorder of this type. Therefore, I am the person who suffers, or who feels in an exact way, but I do not always have to know how to name that state.

Thus, in a colloquial way, we sometimes tend to use clinical terms in the wrong way. The result is that between all of us we get to blur the meaning of that word and as a consequence we can hinder the improvement of people who are suffering from it. These are some examples.

1. “I’m depressed”

Commonly, saying that you are depressed is already associated with being sad in a temporary way, and no one thinks that that person has a depression. But it does happen that then we believe that having a depression means being very sad in a pathological way, so if a person has a very low mood (due to a problem, a near death, illness, etc.) they can consider that they are going through a depression. So later you can fall into the error of thinking that depressions are temporary or you get out of them by going out with friends or similar issues. But no, the real depressive state is nothing like being sad. It is another type of suffering and vital blockage.

2. “I got OCD and I had to sort everything out”

Being an orderly person, having hobbies, or even having many hobbies is not related to suffering from an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. They can be two realities that move on the same continuum (at the lowest level it is something manic and at the highest level, OCD), but there is a line that separates the more or less functional conduct disorder. In addition, people with an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder do not stop to order things or simply fix or balance elements of the environment that illogically bother them. OCD is much more constant, requires specific rituals, a very great anxiety, constantly interferes with the normal functioning of the person, implies a very great suffering and has more to do with the thoughts of the person than the better fact that an out of place book bothers or not.

3. “It is difficult for him to talk to people, he is a bit autistic”

Autism Spectrum Disorders are very striking for the population, but also very unknown. As always, we can show external behaviors in common to people with ASD, as well as to people with other types of psychological characteristics, but we do not belong to it. People with ASD have to make a great constant effort in their life to adapt to their environment, which is difficult for them to understand and even communicate in it, and it happens since they are young children. Just as we cannot consider people with ASD as dysfunctional or incapable of communicating with others (we have to do more of our part to find an effective point of communication between them and not just that they have to be the ones who adapt to people without ASD), it is not okay to trivialize autism by using it as a derogatory characteristic towards a person. In addition, the fact that it is difficult for someone to talk to others is a characteristic of the person as valid as being an extrovert , and it will be that same person who decides if this is a problem or not.

4. “You have a childhood trauma”

The word trauma is one of the most used outside of psychology. Although there are traumatic episodes, which can lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (a car accident, witnessing a violent situation at home, being the victim of some type of abuse, etc.), sometimes we confuse what happens. PTSD does not last a lifetime, but it can leave consequences, and then we would speak of a truamatic situation that has conditioned us . Both in children and adults.

But in the face of continuous stressful situations, negligence in parenting, being exposed to violent behaviors, scolding you too much as a child or spending a lot of time alone, what it does is to model the child’s learning. The same happens in adulthood : we shape our behavior based on our experiences and how we have learned to live them and interact with the environment, but that does not mean that a person who has experienced hostile situations “keeps” a latent trauma in the head as if it were a tumor.

5. “It causes me a lot of anxiety”

Nerves and stressful situations are part of our life. Of course, continued stress is one of the factors that can generate more psychological and physical damage, it is a natural response of our body to situations that we perceive as dangerous. Sometimes, in situations that we see as especially threatening, or that make us nervous, we speak of anxiety as the physiological response we have. But we must not confuse this with attacks or states of anxiety , or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which becomes a source of constant fear, limitations and worries that does not let us move on.

6. “He’s very violent, he gets schizophrenic”

It is very dangerous and harmful to associate psychotic disorders like schizophrenia with violence. As we always say, there are violent people with schizophrenia, violent people without schizophrenia, non-violent people with schizophrenia and non-violent people without schizophrenia. In other words, studies have shown that there is no higher proportion of violent people with schizophrenia than those without this disorder. Therefore, when sometimes we “lose our way” we do not go crazy, and violent people do not have a mental disorder.. They have something worse: they resolve situations that generate stress or frustration in a violent way and they expect others to forgive them for it. In addition, these types of reactions are socially fed because they are associated with male roles and the best way for others “not to pass over us.”

7. “You are bipolar, you keep changing your mood”

The myth we have with people with bipolar disorder is that as soon as they are euphoric, they are depressed. Hence, a person who has sudden mood swings will tell him, although knowing that he does not have any disease, that he is bipolar. Unfortunately, this disorder goes much further, and the episodes of mania and depression are very severe for these people, leading to risky behaviors , hindering their normal daily functioning, and these episodes occur in different phases and with different durations. 

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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