Robin Williams’ story brings many of the misconceptions about depression to light.
With the sad death of Robin Williams yesterday, by apparent suicide, the focus has been on the pain of severe depression and the need to treat it like an illness.
In Canada, as in other developed countries, depression is on target to become the leading cause of disease and disability by 2020. Eight percent of Canadians will experience a major depression in their lifetime with women twice as likely to become depressed as men. At any given moment, 4 – 5% of the population is experiencing depression.
Canadian Depression Research & Intervention Network (CDRIN)
These are sad statistics and we can only hope for a long term solution to this mental health concern. I’m fortunate that my world includes many compassionate and informed people who recognize that a person with depression is not at fault and needs medical treatment and support. It doesn’t take much of a search through the internet to see that many people are not so supportive.
“Suicide is selfish. How could he do that to his family and friends?”
“He had so much money. What did he have to be depressed about?”
“Just another spoiled celebrity…”
Those statements are the height of ignorance with regards to depression and mental health. Major depressive disorder is a mental health disorder resulting from chemical imbalances in the brain.
According to Stanford University, about 50% of the cause of depression is genetic, with the rest being physical or psychological factors. Although there are drugs that can reduce symptoms, usually a multi-pronged approach including psychological counselling (generally cognitive behavioural therapy) and nutrition changes is most beneficial.
Many in the general public still perceive suicide as a choice and don’t realize that severe depression takes away the ability to make logical choices. If you or someone you care about suffers from depression, get the support you need as soon as you can.
It’s not your fault.