“Telling someone with depression to pull themselves together is about as useful as telling someone with cancer to stop having cancer.” – Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais might be a controversial guy, but I like this quote. At least someone with some influence is speaking out! Society’s negative attitude towards any form of mental illness means that so many people never feel comfortable talking about it. It is such a lonely road for many people and at times I also count myself in. Actually, just about all of us living with these illnesses are still very selective about who we tell.
Yet, if depression were cancer it would be entirely different story. Sad, isn’t it? In this article which talks about research into mental health, the author says that depression has struggled, while studies of cancer have thrived.
Here’s a few highlights from the article:
If the extent of human suffering were used to decide which diseases deserve the most medical attention, then depression would be near the top of the list. More than 350 million people are affected by depression, making it one of the most common disorders in the world. It is the biggest cause of disability, and as many as two-thirds of those who commit suicide have the condition.
In research…depression has failed to keep up with cancer. Cancer research today is a thriving field…Research into depression, meanwhile, seems to have floundered: once-hopeful therapies have failed in clinical trials, genetic studies have come up empty-handed. The field is still struggling to even define the disease — and overcome the stigma associated with it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Cancer research funding is very important and I’m glad that so many advances have been made towards treating so many cancers. But, can you imagine if research into mental health got the same kind of funding and attention? What if we had the same kind of advances in treating mental health?
…Another major factor is the long-standing stigma associated with depression. Many people still do not acknowledge that it is a legitimate condition, says Nelson Freimer, a psychiatric geneticist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “A large proportion of people believe depression is just something that we all feel,” he says. “They think you should pull your socks up and get back to work.”
The article goes on to tell more about advances into genetic research to understand and treat mental illness, but I agree with article – stigma is still a major problem. Depression isn’t just a case of “having the blues”. These are serious things. Those of us who live with it know.