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Seismic observations have shown that a number of evolved stars exhibit low-amplitude dipole modes, which are referred to as depressed modes. Recently, these low amplitudes have been attributed to the presence of a strong magnetic field in the stellar core of those stars. We intend to study the properties of depressed modes in evolved stars, which is a necessary condition before concluding on the physical nature of the mechanism responsible for the reduction of the dipole mode amplitudes. We perform a thorough characterization of the global seismic parameters of depressed dipole modes and show that these modes have a mixed character. The observation of stars showing dipole mixed modes that are depressed is especially useful for deriving model-independent conclusions on the dipole mode damping. Observations prove that depressed dipole modes in red giants are not pure pressure modes but mixed modes. This result invalidates the hypothesis that the depressed dipole modes result from the suppression of the oscillation in the radiative core of the stars. Observations also show that, except for the visibility, the seismic properties of the stars with depressed modes are equivalent to those of normal stars. The mixed nature of the depressed modes in red giants and their unperturbed global seismic parameters carry strong constraints on the physical mechanism responsible for the damping of the oscillation in the core. This mechanism is able to damp the oscillation in the core but cannot fully suppress it. Moreover, it cannot modify the radiative cavity probed by the gravity component of the mixed modes. The recent mechanism involving high magnetic field proposed for explaining depressed modes is not compliant with the observations and cannot be used to infer the strength and the prevalence of high magnetic fields in red giants.