Is depression a character flaw?

    This story from Vhi healthcare
doesn’t state any new information that a person suffering from
depression wouldn’t know but simply recommends that people suffering
from a mild form of depression are better off with therapy than

    David Axelrod, a political consultant in Chicago, has written a moving piece on his father’s suicide in the Chicago Tribune. A choice quote: “…my dad still was impacted by the sense, so prevalent in our society, that depression is somehow a character flaw rather than an illness.”
A quote like that warrants a standout because I often fall prey to this
belief myself. Mental illness runs in my family (more of the
schizophrenia and paranoia) and I often beat myself up because I think
depression is a fault. Some of the things that I do emerges as a
character flaw – selfishness for one – but depression in and of itself
is not a flaw and I need to stop beating myself up about it and work to
get the treatment I need.

    According to the Contra Costa Times,
Eminem has been dealing with a bout of depression. No doubt: he lost a
close friend, Proof, from his band D-12 and divorced his wife, Kim
Mathers, for a second time. If I lost my best friend and my husband in
the span of two months, I’d be depressed too. Sources say that he is
fighting through his depression without antidepressants. I say Eminem’s
bout of depression is normal – the kind that most people experience
when they lose a loved one. He’s simply grieving; it doesn’t sound like
a mental illness to me.

    According to the Times of India,
scientists at the Central Drug Research Institute have developed a
landmark drug to control and cure depression. The drug, ‘sent
propezene,’ was tested on more than 250 patients who were said to have
shown “remarkable results.” A senior CDRI scientist said the new drug
is safer than existing anti-depressants and is free of side effects.
The CDRI has obtained an international patent for sent propezene, which
is expected to hit the market soon. (This could be one to watch out

    Novelist Ned Vizzini, who struggles with depression, is featured in this AP article.
Thankfully though, he says he’s not longer suicidal and that option has
been “crossed out” for him. He’s written a book, “It’s Kind of a Funny
Story” about a young man who goes from being exceptional in an average
high school to being average at an exceptional high school. It seems
like a read worth checking out: “That’s really what this book is about,
making that decision to live,” Vizzini says.

    The San Francisco Bay Times has an opinion column that addresses depression in the gay and lesbian community
(LGBT). According to the writer, gays are four to five times likely to
get severe depression than heterosexuals. A 2000 survey found that gay
men cited depression as their number one health concern after HIV and
lesbians cited depression and mental health as their number one concern
overall. Another study found that gays and lesbians were two to three
times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexuals. Why the stark
trend? It seems that a “homophobic environment, suppressed anger, a
self-imposed limitation on awareness of feelings and a lack of
emotional nurturing” for their homosexual identities puts the LGBT
community at a greater risk for depression. This revelation seems to
make it possible that depression can be caused not only from a genetics
or a hormonal imbalance, but also as a result of external factors. has an article
that suggests depression and chronic pain can cause disability in
women. Maybe it’s just me, but I think this finding is sort of “duh.”
If people have chronic pain, there must be something wrong. The “aha!”
finding here seems to be that pain-related emotions can produce
pain-related behaviors. So apparently, if doctors can tackle a female’s
mental health then her physical well-being is expected to improve. If
you didn’t know, now you know. I think this finding is pretty much
common sense, however.

    Recently, more light has been shed on postpartum depression because of Brooke Shield’s admission. According to the Exeter News-Letter,
postpartum blues affects 50 to 85 percent of new moms. Dr. Patricia
Kincare writes, “Common symptoms include rapid shifts in mood, anxiety,
irritability, tearfulness and poor sleep and appetite.” The blues
typically is viewed as depression after two weeks of the same symptoms.
About 10 percent of new mothers experience PPD. Women with PPD are
extremely worried about their infants, are unable to be reassured that
their child is okay and can even feel suicidal. Postpartum OCD seems to
be somewhat more severe – with the mother thinking of their child being
harmed in some way. To treat this mental illness, Kincare recommends
counseling and/or antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication. My fear
of developing either PPD or PPOCD is often what keeps me from wanting
to have children. I’m already afraid of dropping my child down a flight
of stairs or tumbling down them myself so the possibility of developing
either one of those illnesses is probably very high for me. Women who
are thinking about becoming mothers should discuss with their doctor
how to approach treatment should they have an onset of postpartum
depression or disorder.

    And the debate over pregnant women using Seroxat continues to rage.
Sophie Corlett, policy director of mental health charity Mind, said:
“The science on Seroxat and pregnancy isn’t conclusive either way.”


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