On air: Why aren’t we doing more about depression?

handsThere’s a major mental health summit taking place in Greece at the moment (you may have heard my colleague Pascale Harter reporting from there), and there are some stark statistics coming out of it. About 800,000 people commit suicide every year, and 86 per cent of them are from low- and middle-income countries. Yet, the WHO points out, in the developing world 2% of national health budgets are spent on mental healthcare.

Do you have experience of depression? Maybe it’s affected one of your friends or family. Did you feel your country’s healthcare system took the illness seriously enough? Would you like more support for those with mental health problems?

Or do you remain to be convinced about the nature of depression? Can change in circumstances or attitude prove to be as effective in changing a person’s outlook as help from a doctor? Are you sceptical about whether your country needs to spend millions more dollars on mental health, while cancer, HIV / AIDS, Malaria and so on require such urgent attention?

66 Responses to “On air: Why aren’t we doing more about depression?”

  1. 1 helen in usa
    September 2, 2009 at 11:25

    People who get psychiatric treatment also commit suicide.And the explanation of the psychoactive druglord companies is”these people are ‘mentally ill’ “.As far as I can tell”treatment”doesn’t exactly “fix” people. In fact I was misdiagnosed and treated as a teenager and the drugs had a very bad effect on me.But my mom listened to the opinion of the shrink.And nobody listened to me.And I overdosed in sucide attempts on my psychiatric drugs three times(maybe four.I think it’s four but I’m not positive),and had my stomach pumped every time.The last time would have been successful,except I didn’t wait till everyone was asleep,and my mom found me in my room.I spent I don’t know how long in intensive care.Unconscious.Also,I really have no problems that any psychiatrist or their drugs ever helped.I don’t use any prescriptions at all.The drugs made me worse in a way that only the drugs ever did,because I never made suicide attempts when I wasn’t taking their prescriptions;in fact I believe that people taking psychiatric drugs do things they wouldn’t do if they were not taking them.In my opinion psychiatric drugs do more harm than good.

  2. 2 Ann
    September 2, 2009 at 11:50

    I really do believe we need to do a lot more about mental health. We need to better understand…

    1) The causes

    2) The experience and effects of depression on the sufferer and their family

    3) How best we can help people

    I think if we try to do this seriously it will involve engaging in a critical and perhaps radical examination of the causes of injustice and inequality in our society. I can imagine that not everyone would be comfortable doing this, particularly politicians and policy makers who often strive to uphold the status quo in rich industrialised societies.

  3. 3 Dennis Junior
    September 2, 2009 at 12:07

    The reasons for not doing more for people who are diagnosed with Depression; Is often there is not enough money for the treatment that is needed……

    =Dennis Junior=

  4. 4 Nigel
    September 2, 2009 at 12:23

    My wife went in to early menopause after having a hysterectomy and became severly depressed a few years ago. It was greater than we could work on together and required therapy and supportive medication. We both benefited from the therapy. A big part of the challenge was getting our close friends, family and especially our kids to understand what was happening and to make sure that there was a supportive and understanding environment around her all the time. She is an extremely brave and strong person and came out of it OK but still to this day has to go back on medication for about six months in every year. She knows it now and understands that it will end and that she will not collapse or do something crazy in public, so the element of fear of what it means is pretty well gone (one less thing to fight with) and carries on at about 90% normally during the periodic attacks. We know others who are not so luck and one male friend of mine locked himself away in his home for three years not seeing anyone.

  5. 5 patti in cape coral
    September 2, 2009 at 13:11

    I agree with Ann, but it is interesting that 86% of these people come from low/middle income families. Does this mean that those 86% that commit suicide lacked the income for treatment? Or that lack of finances lowers the quality of life so drastically that they prefer to end it all? Undoubtedly, wealthy people get depressed too, but this whopping number suggests that poverty has something to do with it.

  6. 6 anu_D
    September 2, 2009 at 13:31

    Mental depression are abstracty, subjective problems…i.s opinion based diagnosis…as opposed to decisive blood test, MRI result backed diseases……and hence do not get same backing as objective “proven diseases” do.

  7. 7 Sophia
    September 2, 2009 at 13:55

    Yes, I have experienced depression for several years now and recently, it aggravated in its intensity for some reason. Although, now I seem to be feeling fine but I’m not sure how long this will last. I believe it runs in my family and has consequently resulted in my family adopting strict measures to carry out decisions that affect all of our lives in ways that has caused me to fall ill with the disease. I am not taking any medications for it , rather, I would say I’m applying sort of a self-treatment based on personal examination from time to time.

    In my opinion, the country of my origin and the country of residence do not treat depression as seriously as they should. for example, I see no psychiatric office in the school that I attended and the college that I am attending. I would definitely like to see more support for people suffering from depression .

    I have come to recognize some of the factors that trigger depression for me and as such, I believe a change in circumstances and environment would really help. However, I am skeptical about the sustainability of the depression-free state for me because it seems to me that somehow even if I manage to change my circumstances, I might not be able to change them permanently and that whenever the triggering factors present themselves to me in the future, that I will fall into depression once again. There just doesn’t seem to me to be a solution that can really cure the depression for me permanently. At times, it feels like the illness defines my life for me.

  8. 8 George Papadopolis
    September 2, 2009 at 14:23

    Why is so little spent on mental healthcare?

    The short answer would have to be that if they’re deemed managable by a suitable psychiatric med, then it’s cost effective. Psychological coun[selling] doesn’t come cheap.

  9. 9 Drake Weideman
    September 2, 2009 at 14:26

    Depression is not always a mental health issue.
    I, if examined, would undoutedly be classified as depressed…however, my situation is not “in my head”, it is in the reality of my world. I do not blame anyone else for the reality of my world…as someone in their late 50’s I am fully aware that I have constructed my own life and am the sole person responsible for where I am…none of which changes the reality that my life is not pleasant with very little hope that it will get better. When I look beyond my individual life, what I see of the world surrounding me also upsets me greatly as I see greed, selfishness, shallowness etc everywhere.
    There are no drugs that can change all of this…this is reality. For many folks who are depressed, the situation is the same, their lives are not pleasant, nor will they be.
    Reality is that with some 7 billion people in the world, there are bound to be hundreds of millions of people whose lives and personal situations are ‘unfortunate’ and taking some pill to make the unhappiness go away is not a good solution.
    That all being said, there are ‘real’ mental illnesses that (in the US) are very poorly treated, which is another depressing thing…

  10. 10 gary
    September 2, 2009 at 15:00

    We’re not doing much because we really don’t know how. What is being done is application of well-intended, but mostly ineffective (and sometimes destructive) chemotherapy. We could correct this a bit; but unfortunately, we don’t do enough of that one thing it is possible for us to do – and that is, to care.

  11. 11 Ann
    September 2, 2009 at 15:02

    Given that there are funding limitations with providing psychological and drug therapies, it seems to me that continuing to raise awareness of mental health problems can be of help. If we can talk openly and honestly about the range of mental health conditions and reach out to each other in our times of need, maybe we can help to save a few lives and bring a little ray of hope in times of despair.

    One little simple inexpensive thing we can all do to help each other…..

    and more listening….

    It can have amazing effects.

    And if anyone is interested, here is a link to a website that gives good info on mental health problems… http://www.mind.org.uk/

  12. 12 Anthony
    September 2, 2009 at 15:28

    In the US, we’ve done quiet enough for depression. I hate this media induced garbage. Oh, you’re tired, you feel sad, you feel awkward in social settings? You MUST have something wrong with you, and here’s the cure, PILLS!!! Now they have Abilify which are pills to help the other pills work. It’s sad, and it makes things worse. People should be taking these issues head on. But people make tons of money off of it.

    Oh, and shrinks…. what incentive do you have to “fix” someone. NONE, you make money off of the repeat customer. That’s why I know people who have had the same shrink for 10 years!!! They DONT EVEN WANT to fix you!!!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    • 13 Amy in Oregon
      September 2, 2009 at 17:20


      I was in therapy, worked through the issues and came out the other side better. While there are some shrinks out there that do want to loose their revenue stream, most really do want to help and get the patient better. You want people to take their issues head on – great. But most problems aren’t fixed after one appointment. Depending on the issue, it might take a year or it might take years. I was quite skeptical until I had to go. Once I realized that it was helping and that I was getting better I was able to understand why therapy can help and why it can take a long time to work through issues. I wasn’t being treated for depression (although at the time I thought it was postpartum depression) but the therapy helped just the same.

      I don’t think we have done enough to treat depression here in the US. The drug companies do want to push their pills but understanding the causes and looking at all options for treatment hasn’t been looked at fully. What’s the answer to that problem? If I knew that, I’d be ruling the universe!

  13. 14 helen in usa
    September 2, 2009 at 15:42

    Has anyone who responded so far,these nine comments,has any one of these people been “treated”,I wonder. The biggest problem is that they work from a loose set of symptoms and decide to call it a disease,or match up what they think is wrong with you to whatever condition comes closest. And base their”treatments”on that. Just like any physical problem that insurance covers,a psychiatrist also has to work off a list of what conditions he can charge for and be paid for by insurance. And like anyone who fixes your car or who comes into your house to do plumbing or repair work,psychiatrists are also just as motivated to find something so you will become a paying customer. And they don’t really know what they’re doing. But that doesn’t stop them from doing what they were taught in school and prescribing for someone. A child can be having screaming fits because another child does something to provoke this reaction;the problem is the abusive child;what psychiatry does is designate the screaming fits as the problem and prescribes a drug to effectively gag the child so the screaming fits are silenced.;ust like a doctor might help with pain by numbing it,but Never addresses the Cause of the pain.Peole who have Faith in doctors have blind faith and misplaced trust.

    • 15 patti in cape coral
      September 2, 2009 at 16:14

      @ Helen – I have been treated for depression which was largely situational, so drugs didn’t help me. It actually would have been a bad sign if I wasn’t feeling some depression, the situation really warranted it, and it did eventually resolve. My mother, however, has been treated for depression with a combination of medications and therapy, which worked very well for her. There had to be some adjustment in medications and dosages before she and her doctor got it right, which I expected, but once that hurdle was passed, my mother was much happier. I wouldn’t want people not to seek help for a psychiatric problem simply because it didn’t work for me, but I agree that people need to be aware that it is not exact, it takes patience, and it doesn’t work for everyone. Like Ann and Gary said, I think wonders could be achieved simply by listening and caring.

  14. 16 Dora
    September 2, 2009 at 16:55

    Helen, you obviously have had a bad personal experience which is deplorable but I don’t really understand your point in answer to ‘why aren’t we doing more about depression?’
    Is it that there is no such thing as depression and all doctors are liars?

    In my opinion the reason why we aren’t doing more about depression is simply because we don’t know enough about it and there are too many contributing factors.

  15. 17 helen in usa
    September 2, 2009 at 16:58

    Well gosh Patti.I’m not so sure an absence of happiness or not having as much happiness as one thinks one should have is really a sickness.I’m not so sure I would want my tax dollars or out-of-country aid funding to pay for people to be happy;if our society wants people to be happy and if the government insists on paying for it,I see it as oscene and hypocritical that marijuana is illegal. If people need to be happy. And society tells us we are supposed to be happy. If anyone is actually conscious and literate and ever picked up a newspaper or walked through a city and seen homeless people or know how elderly people and children are abused and neglected in America and Brittain,…how can anyone be happy?Or even want to be happy? Happiness is extremely selfish desire and is a false desire that commercialism and the media has shoved down our throats in a saturation campaign. And it worked. Because most people think they Need To Be Happy;and that Something is Wrong if they aren’t. What a crock!

    • 18 patti in cape coral
      September 2, 2009 at 20:23

      @ Helen – Well I guess then we just disagree. If I could choose where my tax dollars go, I wouldn’t mind a big piece of it going toward people being happy. Of course, people need to have the basics before we can work on happiness, you know, three meals a day, a place to sleep, feeling safe, healthy bowels, etc. I don’t see wanting to be happy as an extreme or selfish desire as you do. It’s better than wanting to be miserable, and wanting others to be miserable as well. Now that is what I call a crock!

  16. 19 steve
    September 2, 2009 at 17:00

    I’m kind of shocked that there are high rates of depression and suicide in poorer countries. I always though like anorexia, it’s an illness of privilege. I think many people are miserable because humans weren’t meant to live the way we do, sitting in offices, or if very poor, working all day long just to get enough food. We were meant to be hunter/gatherers, struggling to just survive, and not worry about perfect relationships, retirement, mortgages, car repairs, etc… They say the happiest people are those who want what they have, rather than having what they want.

    • 20 Half-Not
      September 2, 2009 at 18:26


      Unless you know the meaning of life, or that there is one, or even should be one—it is impossible to suggest what we were ‘meant’ to be doing.

      • 21 Tom K in Mpls
        September 2, 2009 at 22:43

        Life has no meaning until each of us gives it a meaning. Until we come along there is no right or wrong. We choose what we think is right, knowing full well that some will agree with us, and other won’t.

        I know two people that agree that after more than two years, their life is better thanks to psychopharmacology. I know several that find it frustrating and even harmful. Mental health is subjective, suicide is often irrational. But who gets to write the law on who is rational?

        I like Shakespeare: ‘to thine own self be true.’

  17. 22 nora
    September 2, 2009 at 17:14

    One country in Asia has a ‘happiness index.’ We need one. I think we have socially structured in the creation of mental disorders from an overly stressful lifestyle. We have given the drug companies too much of the pie. Mediterranean meals for the poor might make for less depression than multi-colored pills and cost no more.

    Pills are an over priced crap shoot for most conditions but a god-send to some, so how to sort it?

  18. 23 Rosalie
    September 2, 2009 at 17:17

    I have lived with depression since childhood, now 33. I have always strived to be my best and fair well in life; however depression has this way of tearing you down. It can over come you and before you know it little things like day to day tasks are impossible: brushing your teeth, getting out of bed. You know there are consequences but the depression inside is stronger, and regardless of the consequences depression seems to always win. So you might loose your job, you may go broke, you may be late on your bills, your car may be repossessed, you may even be on the brink of eviction.

    As a single woman with a job I have found myself in this situation many times as I go in and out of depression. On one occassion I was on unemployment after loosing my job, but still not having enough support to pay my rent or my car payment. I lost my vehicle. I received an eviction notice and for the first time in my life felt closer than I had EVER been to the unthinkable: homeless. I went to the Department of Human Services, Social Security office and other local departments, but unless you were actually homeless with no job there was no help.

    I have been depression free for a year and after rebuilding my life and filling for bankruptcy I’m back on track. I have a nice home, vehicle, a wonderful job, and am in a relationship. Always in the back of my mind I wonder when will my depression come back, when will come to destroy me and my life? I have struggled my whole life and other than medication and therapy (which I could rarely afford) there is ZERO assistance for me. People expect you to reach the ultimate rock bottom before there is hope, and when you get to that point of homelessness I hardly feel like there is anything to live for. I can’t imagine having to reach that point just for someone to recognize I need assistance.

    When you have door after door slammed in your face (DHS, SSD, etc) and than you watch the television and see ad’s talking about how devastating depression can be, or you see your mayor or governor publically speaking about how tragic this can be, it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating because here you have people admitting and acknowledging how horrible the effects on one’s life depression can be from people who can make a change, yet there is nothing.

    Life is tough enough try life with depression: that is not a life at all!

    • 24 Tara Ballance, Montreal Canada
      September 2, 2009 at 18:10

      I hear ya, Rosalie, I hear ya!

      I’ve lived with depression for most of my adult life, and so I know in my bones how you feel. I am so glad you’ve managed to claw your way out of the pit, and I’m cheering your accomplishment in staying depression-free for a year. You go, girl!

      Thing is, it’s really only been in the past 10-15 years that depression has started being treated as a “real” disease instead of as a moral weakness on the part of the sufferer.

      I believe that one reason you failed to get the support you needed is that people in general still have the mindset that “you should just snap out of it, it’s all in your head, you’re just lazy, there’s nothing wrong with you, you’re just a weak person”.

      Well, none of that is true, people. It takes more strength and courage to live with depression than to live without it.

      You’re my hero of the day, Rosalie. May the black dogs stay out of your life from now on.

  19. 25 helen in usa
    September 2, 2009 at 17:19

    Dora,many people have bad treatment from psychiatric drugging that is deplorable. People who overdose on their psychiatric drugs to commit suicide are IN treatment. Maybe people with some common sense can see that the “treatments”often aren’t. Effective,and maybe,juuussst maaayybeee,what makes people depressed cannot be fixed by drugging them.And maybe the real solution or the real way to fix what’s wrong is to address the real problem. Not drug someone into a drooling vegetative state,which,by the way,is also a side effect of long term “drug therapy”. A pill didn’t cause the problem,so how can a pill fix the problem?btw fyi,pills only caused the problem AFTER you started treatment and the treatment is ineffective and destructive.I’ve seen the people Dora. I’ve seen the suicides.I know adult suicides who wish the suicide was successful. I answered your question. Can you answer mine?Doing more about depression doesn’t have to mean,”why aren’t we drugging more people”,does it?Have you seen any teen suicides,from kids already seeing a shrink?

  20. 26 Keith- Ohio
    September 2, 2009 at 17:28

    I think one problem with our treatment of depression is that we are too quick to diagnose and prescribe some sort of treatment. People are eager to match their symptoms to a condition, and then will become complacent in accepting their symptoms as an inevitability.

    Almost (if not) EVERYBODY encounters depression at some point in their life. I think that it is most often a personal battle that can only be completely won on the personal level. It’s part of what makes us human.

    It seems unlikely that the only way to cope with a problem that is apparently so common in humans is to indefinitely take a medication that is not naturally produced by the body. Some people, obviously need to be treated for this problem. I think the endless influx of people that think they need indefinite treatment take attention away from the people with a severe problem.

  21. 27 Barbara Hine
    September 2, 2009 at 17:48

    It is time we considered mental distress as part of living. The pace of life and expectations can be unbearable. Mental distress cannot be ‘cured’ with medication (although the drug companies want us to believe it can be cured that way)Drugs keep the lid on emotions that people are too busy to consider. Supportive friends and families and most of all talking about feelings and discovering that we are not ‘odd’ or peculiar to sometimes find ourselves unable to cope. For example lack of sleep over consecutive nights can lead to psychotic experiences. To deprive someone of sleep was afterall used as a method of torture!! A person needs sleep not long term label and medication. A short course of medication may be a good thing to help them get that sleep but the side effects of many drugs work there own distruction on the human body. Side effects that are not spelt out to patients.
    Time to take care of each other not exclude and marginalise people with unhelpful labels and long term medication

  22. 28 Anthony
    September 2, 2009 at 17:48

    @ Amy

    I’ve gone to 3 shrinks. I’ve been on different medication. I didn’t get better until I took care of it myself.

    My brother was going to a shrink (and they wanted to put him on meds) until my mom asked me to talk to him about pulling out his hair until he would bleed. I talked to him for a bout 2 hours, and (with me using using logic) he NEVER DID IT AGAIN. He’s much better off now, and I’m glad he didn’t have to go through therapy and pills.

    I have friends who turned to these drugs because it would “fix” them. If they had never heard about depression, and watched all these shows/commercials about depression, I know in my heart that 90% of them would not be depressed or whatever.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  23. 29 Jennifer
    September 2, 2009 at 18:00

    I think Anthony has the right concept about how we deal with depression these days. Always a pill solution. However, pills are not the answer. Noone is happy all the time and it seems to me that making it as if that’s the “norm” is putting pressure on people to live up to those expectations. I think that people must deal with issues that they have instead of trying to fix people.

    We all have needs that influence overall health including physical, emotional, social, spiritual; all of these come together to make up our general health; even how we feel. When we have issues in one area it throws everything out of balance. It would be good to address those issues instead of trying to simply take pills and expect them to be the cure all.

  24. 30 patti in cape coral
    September 2, 2009 at 18:02

    I do believe that some doctors are too quick to grab their prescription pad, but I also believe that SOME (not all) depression is biochemical in nature and medication may help. Maybe we need better diagnostics so we can determine the cause, so we don’t just have a blanket treatment for everyone.

    • 31 Tom K in Mpls
      September 2, 2009 at 22:48

      I agree it’s nice to help people. I have enjoyed this myself at times. But if you believe Darwin’s Theory, you would see that what you are promoting a weaker future. The question I don’t have an answer to is:’Where do you draw the line?’.

  25. 32 helen in usa
    September 2, 2009 at 18:06

    What Barbara Hine said is true;you can never discover what is really wrong when a person is drugged and becomes unable to be in touch with their thoughts and emotions;often what the drugs do is make people so jelly-brained or mentally numb that they just don’t care about anything anymore. And no longer react. No longer respond to the world around them or the people in it. I don’t know how this can be considered treatment. Or THERAPY. Often the family who no longer hears the complaints or sees the suffering gets the most benefit;it helps them when someone just mentally and emotionally shuts down. It seems the one in treatment is the one who is least considered;to me it amounts to nothing short of fraud and victimization.

  26. 33 Luz Ma from Mexico
    September 2, 2009 at 18:08

    I suffered from post-partum depression after giving birth to my first child. Back then, I was living in Canada, so I got very high quality treatment and care.

    If I were living in Mexico, I would have had access to appropriate care because my father in-law is a psychiatrist; however, I am one of the privileged few in my country. Since we don´t have access to universal heath care and there are lot of gaps in the health care system, I can guess many people don´t know they have depression until very devastating consequences happen.

    It is a serious condition. Even with proper care and medication, it took me one and half year to get out of it.

  27. 34 steve
    September 2, 2009 at 18:09

    I think the only real cases of depression that science and medicine can help are genuine chemical imbalances, not just people unhappy becaues they don’t have their dream job or perfect relationship.

  28. 35 Half-Not
    September 2, 2009 at 18:22

    Depression exists. Not up for dispute. People kill themselves. That is enough evidence. It is a disease.

    This isn’t about the trendy and terribly bourgeois “personal responsibility.” People don’t choose to be depressed, they become that way or are that way, for a complex assortment of reasons. If it was a simple as choosing not to be, they would.

    Even if you can self-treat depression—so what? Not everyone can. It doesn’t always work. Everyone is different. People make the claim at having cured themselves—sometimes by their actions and lack of intellectual clarity—one wonders if they actually succeeded.

    Depression is not only itself a problem, but it leads to many other illnesses, or makes there likely-hood probable.

  29. 36 Toad Toed Princess
    September 2, 2009 at 18:24

    From Oregon:I think we need more education to bring this issue into the light. Many people feel depression is a weakness, not an illness with real consequences. And those who are depressed often fear their illness, if found out, will hinder work or personal relationships. We need to take this seriously. Although help is available to those with insurance others cannot access assistance easily.

  30. September 2, 2009 at 18:24

    How can depression possibly be said to be a wealthy countries’ disease like anorexia, when depression is an illness of the brain?

    Anorexia requires food, mirrors, and exercise equipment, along with mental health issues. Depression simply requires a person and a brain, and I believe that when we solve some of the major health problems like malaria, we will still have depression problems among these groups.

  31. 38 helen in usa
    September 2, 2009 at 18:25

    With society becoming violent the way violence in the media is shown,violent behavior rising after so much exposure to media violence;an increased exposure to the concept of depression and its existence could also be another focal point that people choose to imitate. There are hormone factors,dietary factors,you have a young lady on who just said her depression was caused by”being pressed to do things beyond her abilities” Sophia said that. The trouble is a too demanding schedule. I’d be depressed if I had to function in a situation I could not possibly deal with,like if I had to slaughter pigs or work in a butcher shop,but how is this “my depression”?And not attributable to my environment?Because if my family had to starve unless I worked in a butcher shop,I’d be depressed alright. If I had to starve alone I would choose that,and be happy to starve over working in a butcher shop.

  32. 39 mers in Oregon
    September 2, 2009 at 18:27

    It bothers me that people cannot relate physical illness to mental illnesses. What’s the point of keeping people alive who feel like they don’t want to be alive? I think that much of the depression I have experienced in the US is due to unbearable pressure and stress, which can trigger depression. (which is known to run in families) Schools, businesses, etc. have no interest in the happiness of their employees these days. The type of rush-rush society we live in today (and that we even impose on our private lives) has become the norm. We are brought up to think that getting ahead and having the most is what brings ultimate happiness. I think, however, we are seeing proof that this is just not so.

  33. 40 nora
    September 2, 2009 at 18:28

    re: Helen

    Happiness and materialism should not be confused. As US folks, the ‘pursuit of happiness’ is the word from the founding fathers about national mental health.

    • 41 Keith- Ohio
      September 2, 2009 at 18:44

      Neither should unhappiness and depression be confused. People realize that they aren’t particularly happy in their current circumstances, and instead of figuring out what changes they could make to their life to obtain happiness, they medicate.

      Also, on a different note, people should be concerned with their hormones. Women on birth control often take anti-depression pills as well, when the actual problem is that their hormones, your body’s natural means of regulating mood, are being thrown completely out of whack.

  34. 42 Carolyn
    September 2, 2009 at 18:29

    Anthony apparently has never suffered from depression. If so, he would have never made his statement.

    It is important to understand that medications are used to TREAT depression, not CURE it. Many forms of depression are a result of chemical imbalances. Meds will not cure them, they only take the “edge” off and in many situations make it possible to function at a basic level. Any practitioner who would immediately prescribe a med after only one or two sessions and not suggesting alternative treatments should be viewed as qestionable.

  35. 43 Tom D Ford
    September 2, 2009 at 18:30

    I think that some cases of depression arise from people who live in a situation of fear.

    I was thinking about the versions of religion that uses the parenting attitude that “you have to put the fear in them early”, regarding children, which comes from the idea that King Solomon promoted of “Spare the rod and spoil the child”. Children and other people who live under such a regime of fear develop mental and behavioral strategies to cope with that fear, and my hypothesis is that one of those strategies is depression.

    One kind of depression is a kind of giving up on the world and oneself, of feeling powerless and sad about it all.

  36. 44 Maria
    September 2, 2009 at 18:31

    More research is needed, since depression is a serious issue. However, money spent on treatment may be wasted now.

    My opinion is based on experience with my parents. My mother received extentive treatment – hospitalization and, presumably, all categories of drugs, and ECT. She was diagnosed as “major clinical depression” with symptoms of leghargy and anxiety (no sadness). She had these symptoms, despite treatment, for 13 years until her death.

    My father was sucessfully treated witn medication, but the overmedication limited his life to eating and sleeping (and occasionally driving) for several years. He was later told he should never have been on the drugs and is now off drugs and fine at the age of 89.

    Pyschiatric doctors are still working in the dark.

  37. 45 Amy
    September 2, 2009 at 18:31

    Having had diagnosed depression as a result of an underlying medical condition, I agree strongly that medication can be very helpful. By nature, I am a happy person but as a result of diabetes, I developed depression that manifests itself with feelings of being overwhelmed, hopeless and extreme fatigue. I would love to not be able to take medication, but when I stop taking it, the difference is so severe that I can’t imagine what would happen if I didn’t take it. I’ve wanted to go off many times, but my doctor claims that if you don’t suffer any side effects (dizzyness, or lightheadedness and feel more like “yourself”) then you need the medication to balance out the lack of seratonin in your brain. I’ve come to accept that I will likely be on medication for the rest of my life and view most cases of depression as much more than just “sadness”.

  38. 46 Tom D Ford
    September 2, 2009 at 18:35

    Tolstoy or Dostoevsky wrote words something like “Happy families are all alike but unhappy families are all different”, and I think that families that use fear on children create many and various different dysfunctional mental strategies and so are all different.

    The mental strategies that people develop to cope with fear seem to be unpredictable but very widely variable and include depression.

    I think that my hypothesis about this also applies to nations that rule through fear, and there are many examples of that.

  39. 47 Anthony
    September 2, 2009 at 18:36

    @ Elata Foundation

    Who says it’s an illness of the brain. Then you can also say that homosexuality is an illness of the brain, and being a jerk is an illness of the brain. It’s thinking like that which spreads depression like a wild fire.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    • 48 Half-Not
      September 2, 2009 at 19:17

      So what is depression? If not a disease of the mind? You contradict yourself, by suggesting it isn’t an illness of the mind, but then suggesting you can at the same time spread it.

      • 49 Tom K in Mpls
        September 2, 2009 at 22:57

        For once, I want to defend Anthony. As he indirectly posted further above, mental illness is a condition of whatever type that can be spread by the media in the forms of advertising, science TV and other means. There is no rule on at what level we become open to suggestion or how strong the hold will be. But there is no doubt that some can be lead to almost any state, accidentally and with the best of intentions. When you try to ‘fix’ someone, how do you know that you know best?

      • 50 Half-Not
        September 3, 2009 at 17:21

        Tom K in Mpls,

        Regardless of what you or anyone attributes the cause to, it is always a disease of the mind. If torture causes it, if too many reality shows cause it—it is still a disease of the mind. If you are abused as a child and it could be said that you developed depression, partly because of this, it is not any less of a disease of the mind. People hold these views, because they want to invalidate what people experience, and say ‘if you could only be like me, big and strong, lots of will power,’ you could fix yourself—and that is a load of nonsense. Things are not that simple, however simple the cause might seem.

    • 51 Peter Cornish
      September 2, 2009 at 19:18

      Virtually everyone in the medical industry agrees that depression is an illness of the brain. You are living in the dark ages if you don’t recognize it as a disease.

  40. 52 helen in usa
    September 2, 2009 at 18:46

    Nora,I was not ininuating materialism at all. Television shows stress people being happy as important. People in commercials to sell a product are exuberant. Are you happy. Are you unhappy. These things,these concepts,these images and scenarios are surrounding everyone once they are exposed to media. I am not confusing materialism with happiness at all. And the pursuit of happiness means exactly what? Because there are things that make some people happy that affects other people with a direct impact,like a garage band next door makes some people happy,other people it makes unhappy. This is like telling someone or your twelve year old they can do whatever they want to do. Both are ambiguous concepts,and the reality is that there are severe and distinct boundaries. It really defines court reconcilliation. People need to come to terms so the satisfaction of all parties concerned is mediated and met;if the founding fathers meant “mental health”they would have written”mental health”. The ideas are not the same at all.

  41. 53 Peter Cornish
    September 2, 2009 at 19:04

    I was diagnosed with major depression over 20+ years ago. I have been treated with medications since I was diagnosed and over the last 5 years I have taken three 3-6 month medical leaves from work due to this illness. Over the last few years medications have failed to keep me in remission and in May of this year I chose to have Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT or shock treatment). I am pleased to say this was extremely successful and am fortunate that I have good medical insurance and could afford the treatment. In the current US health care reform debate there is a huge concern about the potential of “rationing” health care with a public option. In the current system we have the worst “rationing” possible as 45 million people do not have or can’t afford insurance and do not have a reasonable chance of getting effective treatment for mental illness.

    In the US suicide is the 3rd leading cause for death for ages 10 to 24. 90% of those who die from suicide have mental illness. This is a national and international epidemic and can’t research is not commensurate with the devastating impact on society.

  42. 54 Tom D Ford
    September 2, 2009 at 19:08

    @ Maria
    September 2, 2009 at 18:31

    “… Pyschiatric doctors are still working in the dark.”

    I think you’re right about that. The brain has been described as the most complex thing in the universe and I think that we are still in the very early stages of understanding it.

    In ways it is like poking a black box to see how it responds and then making up a story to explain the response, and Freud was one of the most influential who still affects our time, even though he was very wrong about a lot.

    And if anyone wants the ultimate challenge, studying the human brain fits the bill really nicely.

  43. 55 helen in usa
    September 2, 2009 at 20:45

    Half Not and Peter Cornish are pro-treatment. And somehow the opnion of someone who will not understand that Anthony in LA meant spreads the need to treat depression or the fact of its”reality”as it is presented by doctors and in the media is the opinion of someone who is not very perceptive nor understanding of what a person means when they express themselves. He seems to want to whack someone over the head to accept mental illness or depression as a reality. Often a life change,an environment change,or a diet change will make intolerable or severe depression go away. Pets have brought older people out of a funk by providing a focus and a purpose in their otherwise pretty empty and lonely lives;pets need care,they listen when you talk to them,even if talking to them only gives a placebo effect,they give someone affection and they love attention and affection. And P. Cornish echoes the similar whacking over the head the medical industry gives to justify treatment;and also selling their drugs and services. The mind is very subtle,fragile at times,and intangible;a very perceptive,observant and sensitive person might heal the mind.A psychiatrist who insists on drugging you and cannot recognize your problems cannot be addressed by a drug is not that person;a psychitrist is never in that role,they treat with drugs and never offer support or counseling. Their prime role is as an M.D.,that is what they are are.

  44. 56 helen in usa
    September 3, 2009 at 00:06

    It’s sad that someone has to respond to something I wrote by completely twisting the words into a reverse meaning;but I know how kind and understanding people can be so it’s not like it’s a surprise. I only wrote that people do think they have to be happy as if it’s a normal or entitled state. And it isn’t either. If people can’t cope during a difficult time using pills is just another crutch the way they always say drinking is. I never said I wanted someone to be miserable or that I was miserable. But people absorb a constant stream of media images and ideas at a young age and it continues all through life and creates unrealistic expectations. But I see anyone who has had any problems here,like myself and Anthony,have become targets to be attacked,just because we’ve had the experience and it turned out to be very destructive. Maybe the reality is that psychiatry treats too many people who don’t need the treatment and are harmed by it and this is not acknowledged or made public. And the people who are helped by it have basically minor adjustments that the drugs do affect,and those people are back to being fine and dandy again;or else how could it ever be assumed they were helped.Some things don’t change though,like attacking anyone that ppeople,insensitive people,perceive as weaker.Certain comments here have restored my faith in humanity,I’d almost forgotten what thoughtless people are like.

  45. 57 helen in usa
    September 3, 2009 at 00:36

    To WHY’S I have to say I don’t mind if people relate their own experiences. But it should remaint intact as their personal experiences. I have seen where people write things and it’s obvious they aren’t very clear thinkers or are indecisive or other things that you don’t want to point out publicly(or privately)because there’s really no point in going into that territory here or anywhere else. I assume your rules don’t include snide remarks directed toward someone who has commented here. Because I didn’t state my experiences here to be personally criticized or denigrated or have someone tell me I am miserable and I want other people to be miserable. What I experienced is the direct fault and responsiblity(or the blatant Lack Of Responsibilty)that is Very Common in psychiatry. Yet somehow the experience I had that really amounts to malpractice(but is common in psychiatry)is somehow my fault and I am responsible for it and I am attacked for it because my experience(and the many others who have been damaged by psychiatry)was not to report that it was good and very helpful.When it was not.People don’t like ideas or people,apparently,who don’t fit inn with their idea of the way the world and the people in iy should be.But it is typical.

  46. September 3, 2009 at 00:38

    Being depressed and suicidal is the single most consistent trait among the over 250 school shooters that I have researched for a decade for my book *SCHOOL SHOOTINGS – What Every Parent and Educator Needs to Know to Protect Our Children*. Psychologists describe people whose actions involve engaging in extreme self-destruction as exhibiting “extinction behavior.” This is a subject I would like to see further explored on World Have Your Say with your (the bloggers) support.

    Europe now is becoming what America was in the 90s. The last 3 major school shootings (Germany, Finland, Greece) took place in Europe. I see European countries engaging in the same disastrous form of denial that was universal in America before Columbine (for high schools) and Virginia Tech (for colleges). Time after time following a massacre, you’d hear classmates, police & authorities here say “I thought he was only joking.” or, “I couldn’t imagine that in reality he would do anything like this.” These too often repeated phrases, now heard in Europe, are especially bitter to me.

    Suicidal ideation, i.e., the glorification of one’s own annihilation, is the means by which an individual faces down his fear of mortality by embracing it. Most school shooters dread dying as just another obscure teen who has achieved nothing of significance in his life. By including others in his lethal plans, he tries to avoid the sad, lonely anonymity of a silent, uneventful suicidal death. Thus, depression can be lethal to others as well as oneself.

  47. 59 Jack
    September 3, 2009 at 01:36

    Being depressed is like being angry: it’s an emotion, and you’ll feel that way until you decide not to. And, like anger, it’s also a pattern of behavior. We learn it as children and some of us practice it into adulthood. People around us react to it. Some feel that they’re being nice by trying to offer comfort, others denounce it. Neither one works to modify the behavior.

    I would argue that too much effort has been put into depression. We’ve known the cure for a long time: force yourself to quit wallowing in self-pity and do something–ANYTHING. The problem is, no one believes that will work when they’re depressed, and it’s not the sort of thing anyone can do for you or even help you with.

    That may sound heartless, but I question that people throughout human history, traumatized by raids, ethnic cleansing, slavery and famine, had the luxury of taking time out to be psychoanalyzed. It is especially telling that psychoanalysis as a practice began with the Vienna elite, rather than in the veterans hospitals, following the horror of mechanized and chemical warfare. Analysts and psychologists sell depression like traveling salesmen sell snake oil and politicians sell change–and with exactly the same results.

  48. 60 Tan Boon Tee
    September 3, 2009 at 03:13

    Everyone has a mental health problem. It is a matter of degree, most are less severe and thus appearing normal to one another, others in chronically advanced stage would reside in asylum or treated in hospitals. Rich countries could afford much better care for them, poor nations have no choice but to ignore their existence.

    In this complex and ridiculous world, one would wonder how not to get mentally sick.

  49. 61 Elina
    September 3, 2009 at 08:54

    I was deeply moved by Rosalie’s and some others’ posts here; I believe I can, at least to certain extent, understand what they are talking about as I’ve seen both a close relative and a good friend of mine struggling for years with depression, which is one of the cruellest illnesses that I know. In my work I also meet people who suffer from various kind of depressions, and I’ve seen that clinical depression really is not the same as mental distress or feeling sad or unhappy. Feeling sad or slightly depressed is often quite a normal reaction to life’s hardships and sorrows, but a severe depression is indeed very different, it often causes unimaginable suffering for the patient. Clinically depressed people just can’t “pull themselves together”, it’s not a matter of willpower or simply “snapping out of it”. It affects people’s lives – their physical, emotional and behavioral functioning in many, profound ways. And it doesn’t affect just the depressed person but also their families and friends as well. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that you can’t reach out to your friend or loved one any more; you can’t cure his or hers depression, no matter how much you’d want or try to do so. As for medication, I wouldn’t reject pills used to treat depression, at least they often seem to help in acute situations and over the worst periods of the illness. I’d suppose that the best long-term effects in many cases would be achieved by combining medication with some appropriate form of psychosocial therapy.

    • 62 Tara Ballance, Montreal Canada
      September 3, 2009 at 19:16

      Elina, you’ve hit the nail right on the head.

      The most effective way that I found to deal with my clinical depression was the right medication combined with the right counselling therapy. That has been true for many of my depressive friends, as well. The real challenge is finding the right meds and the right therapist in the right proportions!

      Now, about those friends… I was fortunate enough to find some depression support groups on the Internet. (Thank you so very much, Sir Tim Berners-Lee!) By sharing our stories, our depression experiences, and our coping strategies online, we’ve helped one another get through the dark times.

      Thank you for your compassionate understanding, Elina. I think you are a blessing to the people around you.

  50. 63 Jennifer
    September 3, 2009 at 15:02

    Re: I always though like anorexia, it’s an illness of privilege.

    Anorexia is depriving oneself of needed food. It only requires a distorted self image ie “mental health issues”.

    I don’t understand this concept seeing as it’s about depriving onesself of food. It’s really about mental health issues and it manifests with poor physical health. Not vanity….

  51. 64 T
    September 3, 2009 at 22:03

    We’re not doing more for two reasons. One is the refusal to talk about mental health in an open and honest way. Society tells you just shut up and get on with it. Nobody wants to listen to you complaining all the time.

    Second, the enormous profit factor for doctors and the drug companies. Why won’t they talk about/use more holistic methods? Because that won’t pay for their enourmous office overheads, that’s why. Other approaches are a threat to their profit and power.

  52. 65 Lisette
    September 5, 2009 at 03:58

    To all of you suffering or questioning the validity of depression, I highly recommend reading Against Depression by Peter Kramer. He explains the physiology of depression, how you can see it. It helped me more than the grief books when my son committed suicide.

  53. 66 rick united kingdom
    November 2, 2009 at 22:12

    ive suffered with depression now for the last 17 years and what i found when i was put on anti depressents was they made me feel worse. just awful after effects that i never want to feel again so basically i stopped taking them it was as simple as that. ok my depression didn’t go overnight but i learned to cope with it by meditating. the depression also made me agraphobic for a long time. i think helen has alot of valid points and it is a shame we have to rely on chemicals to makes us feel better or normal.

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