What is Depression (and what is it not)?

17 Feb 2013

depression3“People who don’t know, who say it’s self-indulgence, sound callous, but it’s not callousness born of indifference; I think it’s callousness born of ignorance. That kind of ignorance we’ve got to get rid of, and little by little I suppose, we will. You say to them, ‘It’s a pity you don’t know. I’m sure that if you knew, I’m sure that if you knew, not only wouldn’t you say that, you’d try to help in one way or another.‘” – Mike Wallace, On the Edge of Darkness

Note: I wrote this a few years ago, and it has made its way around the Net uncredited. If you want to reprint it, please make sure you credit Wing of Madness.

What Depression Is:

  • Depression is an illness, in the same way that diabetes or heart disease are illnesses.
  • Depression is an illness that affects the entire body, not just the mind.
  • Depression is an illness that one in five people will suffer during their lifetime.
  • Depression is the leading cause of alcoholism, drug abuse and other addictions.
  • Depression is an illness that can be successfully treated in more than eighty percent of the people who have it.
  • Depression is an equal-opportunity illness – it affects all ages, all races, all economic groups and both genders. Women, however, suffer from depression almost twice as much as men do.
  • At least half of the people suffering from depression do not get proper treatment.
  • Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide.
  • Depression is second only to heart disease in causing lost work days in America.
  • Unipolar major depression is the leading cause of disability.

What Depression Is Not:

  • Depression is not something to be ashamed of.
  • Depression is not the same thing as feeling “blue” or “down.”
  • Depression is not a character flaw or the sign of a weak personality.
  • Depression is not a “mood” someone can “snap out of.” (Would you ask someone to “snap out of” diabetes or high blood pressure?)

Depression is not fully recognized as an illness by most health care insurance providers. Most will only pay 50% of treatment costs for out-patient care, as well as limiting the number of visits.       

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