Monday, March 03, 2008


Some time ago I wrote about depression. The common treatment for depression is pills, amongst other things, and, as I am sure you are aware, these have been under fire recently in our press. The sad thing is that over the last few years I have seen depression rise from something for middle-class housewives who have nothing better to do than howl into their handkerchief to an illness. It is no longer a neurosis for the weak, but an illness that can strike anyone at any time. It has finally been regarded as a real entity, and people who have been of the pull your socks up brigade have seen it as a 'disease' something that eats away at the very thing that makes us human. See here for a brief encounter with Lewis Wolpert of 'pull your socks up' fame, until it happened to him.

I think the latest news about depression is dangerous. The Times newspaper (London) summed it up beautifully when they said (and I paraphrase and interpret) that people don't need drugs, they need a chat. Indeed, a lot of people need to be listened to, but I wonder how much it would cost the NHS to employ people to listen, not to patronise but to really listen - Probably more than the cost of the drugs?

Listening isn't always enough, sometimes it helps to be heard, and to have someone help process those random thoughts into construction into 'how do we go from here'. This takes time, talent and money.

The danger of news articles dissing medications is that people decide not to take them any more. This can be disastrous. Some time ago, a friend of mine who was on antidepressants decided she didn't need them any more and stopped taking them. One week later, I went to visit and found her in her room having taken an overdose, drunk a bottle of brandy and cut her wrists open. That is what happens when people stop taking medication. Regardless of what people think, these medications do have some effect, and not taking them, once prescribed can be a disaster.

Sadly the news recently will be one hundred steps backwards for those who have been fighting for the cause. The saddest thing is that there are millions of people out there who have fought for help, and the paper belittles it, there are millions who want help for their partners and the paper belittles it, and millions who think depression is an excuse for malingering and mopping ones brow, the paper will condone it. I loathe to write about such things, but in light of the papers I can only hope to raise the issue.


Anonymous kh said...

On the button, Lady! On the button!

12:36 PM  
Blogger MortimerBones said...

Thank you. I am always wary about posting about such sensitive matters so I am pleased at least one reader hasn't stoned me at dawn! Thank you.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Miss T said...

Hi Bones - I've thought long and hard about responding on the blog.

I get very angry about such nespaper articles as you quote, as the 'talking cures' advocted by research a lot more than a 'chat'.

Counselling to be effective, needs time and someone trained to more than listen. CBT and similar behaviour modification therapies need a considerable investment of time and commitment by the patient.

In my country - the NHS waiting list for either (and you have to be refered by a consultant psychiatrist) is over a year, and then you have only 10 sessions.

As you rightly say, this type of article only encourages to throw pills into the bin, which is very dangerous.

Depression is a serious and life threatening condition - which still defies the efforts of medical science. And still carries a huge social stigma.

I am very lucky - I have a very enlightened employer, who values me enough and can afford to work with me to make sure I can continue to earn a living. Very few other people who have had depressive episodes as severe as mine are so lucky.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last time I got depressed, I paid someone to listen, a psychiatrist in fact (it was a bad depression). Within an hour I walked out diagnosed with Aspergers and a handy explanation as to why I get depressed. Now I wander in the woods, collect firewood for the stove back home, pick mushrooms, and take photos of anything I like. I also work for myself, which is handy. I was offered drugs but refused them. I wanted to work out why I got depressed and pills ain't going to help with that. Yes, talking is good. Understanding the causes is great. Being able to change my life to suit the diagnosis is (hopefully) the best thing I've ever had.

9:57 PM  
Anonymous kh said...

Different strokes for different folks. Individuals ARE just that and what works for one may not work for someone else. It may not even work twice for any individual.
That is the for the professionals to work out.

The only common factor that I can see is that people need support from friends, some close some more distant. Friends near and far can listen but they are NOT always in the best position to advise (Training, skills, knowledge etc) BUT they can provide a large measure of support purely by listening.

There is one rather large set of ears over here, Lady, whenever you wish to use or abuse them.

2:45 PM  

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