Is Depression a Mis-diagnosis of itself?
There has been a great deal written in the press recently around depression and how it affects people, followed by defensive responses from mental health support charities.
Perhaps none of this is particularly helpful to the person who has depression and it certainly can't be for their families.
Depression isn't just depression, which in itself is symptom of a much larger picture. In a society where everything has to have a name, a diagnosis and a solution we have found a way of neatly categorising a complex and debilitating situation that many people find themselves in. Someone, somewhere decided that we will call it depression.
The reality is, it's not that simple. Depression falls into three different categories; clinical depression (an imbalance of chemicals in the brain that can be effectively treated with medications), life event depression (an expectable response to tragic life event; bereavement, loss of health or wealth etc) and lastly the inability to hold on to enough good feelings about most things in our lives.
It isn't that people with depression don't have any good feelings at all, it is that their good feelings evaporate rapidly and are just as quickly replaced by unhappy ones. The evidence of bad things, painful experiences and therefore the forecast of a doom laden future make most things seem pointless. When everything we touch feels as though it will turn to hurtful dust, there's not much to look forward to when getting in the morning. That in itself is sad making.
If this seems as though anything we look at turns into another problem, then that is what depression is. The feeling of stuckness in hopeless state - it's just too long to write on a sick note and it doesn't exist in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders that psychiatry evaluates the human race by.
It's what I call swedes and turnips choices, anyone can choose champagne, caviar, holidays in the Bahamas etc, no problem. But who wants to have to decide between choices they don't want in the first place? And that's where life becomes really hard.
Hypothesis; you have a job which causes stress and worry, you can't sleep at night and develop anxiety from the responsibilities, during the day you have headaches and start to develop unexplained body pain. You go to the doctors and get a prescription for anxiety but you still can't sleep so you start having a few drinks in the evening to help you "relax and go to sleep". You feel guilt about your alcohol consumption.
You would really like to leave your job and go back to doing a job you had earlier on in your working life that was much more fun but didn't pay so much, you can't because there's the mortgage to consider and your family.
Waking up in the morning is becoming harder and the family feel like they always need more than you have inside you and the money you have in the bank, so you start to avoid them. Your friends seem like they have everything worked out and you feel shame or don't want to burden them with your troubles.
By the time we get to this point, all avenues are starting to close down and the world begins to look like a dark place. Allow it to go on much further and we can see how paranoid thoughts and other troubling issues may begin to come in to the equation.
If this seems a little long winded, it's because I don't think "depression" is adequately long. We need more words to sufficiently address this painful problem, not diagnosis and prescriptions.