In beginning a new month, I thought we would begin a new topical series on psychological disorders beginning with the one that affects more North Americans than the others…Depression.
In my professional opinion depression is a term over-used and over-diagnosed in numerous cases where it is clearly not applicable. We have become a society whereby sadness is often stated to be depression, which prevents some from a normal life experience. Experiencing sadness is not a bad thing; it should be part of every human beings emotional repertoire. Without sadness, we cannot fully comprehend joy. As psychologists and psychiatrists, I believe we have over-diagnosed normality of experience at times. There are numerous events in life that will create the emotion of sadness—these events do not require psychotherapeutic interventions, medications, and/or disability leaves from the workplace.
These sorrowful events require…
- good support from family and friends,
- our willingness to not always feel good,
- and our initiatives to experience, press beyond, and come out the other side having conquered and overcome.
Similar to the use of the word “stressed” in the 80’s we are now a society that is “depressed”. Through the 80’s and 90’s everyone was “stressed” and needing a break. Many used this term to take weeks if not months off from work. What became evident through research was that stress is not a bad thing; we all need some degree of stress in our lives to function at optimal levels—we simply need to know how to manage stressful events and situations to ensure this does not become a greater concern. Additionally, insurance carriers and others stopped accepting the term “stress” as a rationale for a leave from work, which initiated the diagnosis of depression as this, is a qualified diagnostic that allows for a leave from work. The problem with this…it filtered beyond the medical and psychological offices into day-to-day linguistics and has become the new “stressed”.
Depression is a reality for many…I clearly believe that this disorder exists and it is devastating for those experiencing it and for their friends and family members. However, it needs to be properly diagnosed and properly treated through either psychopharmaceuticals and/or psychotherapeutic interventions. However, the rate of depressive diagnostics has skyrocketed over the past 15 years and albeit that there are some rationales for an increase in the number of cases this does not account for the numbers we are seeing as a society.
This week we will explore the many faucets of depression from what it “really” is, how it is diagnosed, what are the different treatment options (including specific methods and suggestions for healing oneself), to when should you seek professional supports.
Before I end today’s blog, I will describe one of my favorite “stress/depression” episodes. An individual came to see me to provide me with a medical note indicating a leave from work for “stress/depressive” symptomologies. Everything about this looked to be normal for this type of case except that there was no treatment plan whatsoever which in and of itself is not that unusual either (unfortunately) but this person seemed “scripted” in their description of symptoms. In any event, they were also surprised and actually appalled that I was going to be giving them a prescribed course of psychotherapy. Most individuals that are depressed are happy to finally be shown a light at the end of the tunnel; this person saw it only as a train getting in their way. At the time, I was proving EAP services to organizations, which meant that I worked with all the employees of specific companies… so if colleagues needed supports they would come to me too. Well in short order another employee from this same company came to see me with the same set of symptoms (almost the same script) and the same disdain for the prescribed course of treatment. Then another came into my offices. This was beginning to look very unusual to the point that I was curious as to the working environment these individuals were being exposed to that all would have the same symptoms of stresses. I then received a call from the insurance carrier that was handling all of these “disability” claims to discover that the notes were also all written from the same physician. The insurance carrier decided to investigate only to find that these individuals were all looking to take extra time off as a means of having extended vacations. Apparently, they even spoke to their co-workers about this new found scam and all of them ended up getting sort of what they wanted—unlimited time off from work; for them it was no longer disability though, it was termination.
TODAY HAS STARTED—HAVE A GREAT ONE!