Social Question

j0ey's avatar

What is your opinion on the opinion depression is "just an excuse for being lazy and weak-willed"?

Asked by j0ey (2419 points ) April 21st, 2010

I find that people that haven’t experienced depression often comment as if it is just an excuse people use for laziness and lack of will power, OR they compare depression to “sadness”. Personally this REALLY frustrates me, and it takes a lot of self control to stop my open palm making contact with their face.

What do you think of this opinion?

And do you think people are actually more depressed now than ever, or is it just more socially acceptable to seek help than it was 20 years ago?

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114 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

I think that opinion is really fucking offensive. And ignorant.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It is my opinion that a person who says this is misinformed and has never been there.

kevbo's avatar

My opinion is “go fuck yourself.”

edit:: But I would say it like this.

cockswain's avatar

I used to feel that way. Now I think it is as deadly as cancer, sometimes curable, frequently terminal. Either way it is a disease that brings misery upon the afflicted.

evandad's avatar

Ridiculous

anartist's avatar

Whoever said that ought to suffer a major depression.

j0ey's avatar

@EVERYONE…....Do you think I run in to these morons more often because I am in my early 20s?....Or do some older people still hold on to this opinion?

And what about the second part of the question? What do you all think about that?

anartist's avatar

depends on the older people. Some might have it even more strongly than 20somethings. Some Calvinist bullshit.

j0ey's avatar

@kevbo great video :)

Silence04's avatar

20 years ago the anwser to depression was an appointment with Jack daniels.

kevbo's avatar

@j0ey, most people in their 20s know jack shit about any mental/behavioral dysfunction unless they’ve experienced it vis a vis a relative or other close person (or watched a lot of psycho/medical shows on tv). Older people who hold that kind of opinion are the kinds that haven’t ventured too far or too curiously in the world, but probably more older people have a sense of its realness. That, however, doesn’t guarantee any extra tolerance.

All that aside, if you have depression, be aggressive about getting it treated. There’s evidence that it actually changes your brain over time in unhelpful ways. See Episode 2 of “This Emotional Life” on PBS. You might have to buy, rent or check out the video, but here’s the relevant Web page.

ninjacolin's avatar

i think it’s exactly true. i don’t think there is a difference between being what can be described as lazy and/or weak willed, and what can be described as being depressed.

rather than offensive, however, i consider this realization pertinent to any good solution.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

It is entirely ignorant and inaccurate. Depression is a psychological disorder, but laziness and being weak-willed is just a state of mind.

VohuManah's avatar

I would say that those people are lazy and weak-willed; otherwise, they might actually have to care about depression.

Arisztid's avatar

@ninjacolin Are all poor people also lazy?

wundayatta's avatar

The statistics say that there are more diagnoses of depression now that ever before. Whether that is because there actually is more depression, or physicians and psychiatrists are creating more work for themselves (and not from some deliberate plan—just a form of bias towards justifying one’s work). Oh—another reason—perhaps there is the same amount of depression as always; it’s just that it’s being detected more often.

My opinion is that there actually is more depression than before. Depression is affected by environmental conditions; especially stress. Stress can trigger it. I think that in our highly technology-dependent world, and our industrial techniques of production (even for intellectual labor), the amount of stress around is skyrocketing. I would expect this to trigger more incidence of depression.

In any case, I hate to say it, but until you have experienced depression, it is next to impossible to understand. I was one of those people who wondered if depressed people were kind of letting themselves go. I thought that if they really tried, they could pull themselves out of it.

Then I got depressed. Now I’d whack that former me upside the head if I caught me saying that. I actually have bipolar disorder. Here’s a scary statistic: 20% of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder die of suicide. Twenty percent! One in five! Is that something that can be explained by being lazy? Christ on a cross!

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Total nonsense. I’ve been a high achiever my entire life. Even under attack from the depression, I force myself to produce a quota of activity each day. Hard physical labor seems to have a temporary effect of lessening the depression, even though I must still take large doses of antidepressant drugs. The depression seems to hang there, regardless of what I do. The drugs and physical activity only seem to take away the worst of it. I don’t even hope for a “cure” any more, only to be able to function from day to day. This has nothing to do with weakness or lack of trying. I set goals and force myself to achieve them regardless of my mental state. I’m just not a happy or optimistic person while functioning.

ninjacolin's avatar

@Arisztid at the very least, they must be. they can’t not be.

Arisztid's avatar

@ninjacolin A little birdie told me that you would think that.

kevbo's avatar

@wundayatta, a relevant book although perhaps with a thesis contradictory to the prevailing opinion here.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

I think people who say that just don’t understand that depression has a physiological basis and it’s not just “in their head”.

ninjacolin's avatar

anyway, there’s a lot of ignorance to the standard opinion as presented by the OP. it’s more complicated than they think, but i don’t think they’re wrong.

YARNLADY's avatar

Unfortunately, this is another one of those self-defined words that actually has no specific definition. As a clinical diagnosis, depression is a real, debilitating condition, but when it means I feel somewhat down today, it is an excuse.

Cruiser's avatar

It’s another stereotype and I hate stereotypes. Stereotypes are just “an excuse for being lazy and weak-willed”!

cockswain's avatar

Do you think I run in to these morons more often because I am in my early 20s?

I thought like that in my 20s, so I’d say forming the ignorant opinion is a product of lack of life experience. I’ve learned much more about the devastating effects of the disease since then and no longer think it is a simple act of will to move oneself out of that mindset. In some cases it may work, but that doesn’t appear to be the norm. Like what @Captain_Fantasy said, there is a chemical, physiological basis to it and the afflicted are affected like someone who was born without an arm or cerebral palsy, or some other debilitation.

Ria777's avatar

@j0ey: What do you think of this opinion?

you clearly know what you think. you want other people to back up your opinions.

And do you think people are actually more depressed now than ever, or is it just more socially acceptable to seek help than it was 20 years ago?

the depression industry has influenced a lot of people to think of themselves as messed up. I think that the current climate has tipped beyond making it socially acceptable to making it so that peer pressure makes it what you should do.

everyone who knows me more than a little knows what I feel about psychiatry and I can’t tell you how often I have had that pressure laid on me.

j0ey's avatar

@Ria777….Yes I already know what I think….. I AM interested in the opinions of others even if they dont match my own.

….That is why I asked the question after all.

gemiwing's avatar

I do think one tends to run into more childish, selfish and ignorant behavior among the younger set. By and large, they haven’t had enough time to get a smack in the face from Life yet. Once it starts settling in that they don’t know absolutely everything about everything- then the opinions become more refined and open. Lord knows, I thought I had it all figured out back then. whoops.

Ria777's avatar

@j0ey: good.

you phrased the question in a very prejudicial way, though. you have to either despise people who buy into the depression myth or accept the myth.

I think that this thing called “depression” describes lots of things. (one reason why I loathe the label.) it could mean simple lack of skill with people and with yourself. in that case you could benefit from honing your emotional intelligence and social skills. you learn it like you would learn a language.

it could mean your life does not satisfy you or make you happy. (this could happen because of the reason given above… lack of ability.) except that you can learn it.

it could come from overwork. it could come from the unproductive nature of most work nowadays.

it could come from the pervasive influence of the advertising and social pressure to interpret common emotions as pathology.

Ria777's avatar

@YARNLADY: Unfortunately, this is another one of those self-defined words that actually has no specific definition. As a clinical diagnosis, depression is a real, debilitating condition, but when it means I feel somewhat down today, it is an excuse.

of course the definition has broadened. it had no scientific value anyway. shrinks didn’t even talk about “depression” until the last forty years. Manufacturing Depression by Gary Greenberg says that they came up with it as a marketing ploy. they had developed new drugs so they created a target audience for them. then the definition got more and more diffuse in terms of its meaning as more and more people began to identify with it. viva psychiatry!

Ria777's avatar

@kevbo: All that aside, if you have depression, be aggressive about getting it treated. There’s evidence that it actually changes your brain over time in unhelpful ways.

if you “have depression”, you have problems to solve. if you can apply aggression to others to help you you can apply aggression to help yourself. it will come down to you anyway.

“it” doesn’t actually change your brain. you change your brain by what thoughts you think and what you do.

j0ey's avatar

@Ria777 Yes I did phrase it in a way that made my personal opinion clear. I don’t think that really had an affect on the way other people answered the question though.

I understand what you are saying, and I do believe the term “depression” is thrown around very loosely these days. I think that these misconceptions have come about BECAUSE of a lack of understanding about the actual condition that is clinical depression.

I feel like slapping people in the face when they make statements suggesting depression is an “excuse” because of the first hand experience I have had with how debilitating “depression” can be.

As for your view of psychiatry….The brain, much like any other organ in the body can either function at an optimal level, or it doesn’t function at an optimal level. A chemical imbalance in the brain can be devastating to an individual’s overall well being, just as heart disease can be devastating.

But I do agree with you in some respects, drugs are often prescribed when simply exercise and nutritional advice would be sufficient…. a pharmaceutical company is out to make money, just like any other company.

p.s. depression, real depression, when experienced over a long period of time CAN physically change your brain….Think about it, thoughts and emotions ARE a product of the physical brain, we just don’t fully understand exactly how these experiences are produced yet

holden's avatar

@Ria777 I’m sure all of your statements are based on quantifiable evidence and thorough review of years’ worth of double-blind case studies, not your opinion.

DominicX's avatar

People have already adequately answered the first question, but I wanted to address the second question a little bit:

Yes, I do believe that there is more of it than ever before. The world is not the same as it was in previous times. It is very different. Life is more complex than it has ever been in the past and I believe that leads to more stress and more depression.

Ria777's avatar

@holden: okay, then. tell me how you could scientifically disprove the existence of “depression”. or elves. one or the other.

Zaku's avatar

I think that opinion is actually responsible for a lot of people being depressed and staying depressed, compared to what would happen if that opinion were replaced by love, understanding, attention, acceptance, counseling, etc…

talljasperman's avatar

Actually I see depression coming from the strong willed people who care… It’s why they are depressed…. a person who doesn’t care would not be depressed

holden's avatar

@Ria777 I’m not the one making claims here.

Ria777's avatar

@Zaku: what opinion?

Ria777's avatar

@holden: ah. so the burden of proof rests on the disbeliever.

j0ey's avatar

@Ria777 well there are these areas of research called Bio-psychology and Neuroscience (don’t know if you have heard of them)…they often over lap onto each other. I’m sure @holden could acquire a few journal articles from these fields to support the existence of depression.

holden's avatar

Drawing from personal experience with depression or whatever the hell you want to call it I found that my quality of life greatly improved after I began medicating with Prozac. But I guess its comforting to know that my condition never existed to begin with, and all along all I really needed to do was grow a pair.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

The medical community seems to believe that depression is a very real condition.
I’m going to to have to side with the crew specializing in that area of expertise versus the occasional social networking naysayer.

So unless @Ria777 can produce a psychology degree I’m going to have to classify these opinions as “layman speculation”.

holden's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy didn’t you read his profile page? His area of expertise is anti-psychology.

filmfann's avatar

People who have never had kids have all the answers to problems you have with your kids.
The same thing applys to people who have never suffered from depression. It’s something you cannot, or should not comment on unless you have gone through it.

j0ey's avatar

@Ria777 Re: anti-psychology…are you saying that what I am wasting 6 years of my life and thousands of dollars studying this nonsense?

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

So is Tom Cruise, Holden and I dont agree with him either.

Ria777's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy: unless you can produce a theology degree, I pronounce your religious opinions invalid.

@j0ey: I do my best to not take a patronizing, sarcastic or condescending “tone of voice”. suffice it to say that I do take neurology and behavioral biology seriously.

think about something, though. how many advances have happened in neurology over the last decade.

now think, how many advances have happened in psychiatry over the last decade.

Ria777's avatar

@j0ey: what nonsense? seriously, do you study neuroscience of psychology or what?

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Are you depressed? You show classic symptoms.
Defensiveness, irritability, anti social behavior.
They’re all there.

holden's avatar

@Ria777 “unless you can produce a theology degree, I pronounce your religious opinions invalid.”

Straw man. You are confusing stated opinions, with opinions stated as facts. Nice try though.

Ria777's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy: yeah. I do feel a little defensive and irritable. understandably, defending my views against people who disagree with me. as far as anti-social behavior, disagreeing with the majority doesn’t make me so.

j0ey's avatar

@Ria777 psychology…. what are you studying?

I am sorry I am being slightly sarcastic, I just take great offence to you comparing the existence of depression with the existence of mythical creatures.

I did agree with you to some extent, until you pulled out that little pearler.

Ria777's avatar

@holden, @j0ey: psychiatry deals with a lot of unfalsifiables. and it calls itself science. some things you can’t prove. I have no problem with that, in and of itself. I do have a problem with people assertions up as science that science can’t deny. or prove.

j0ey's avatar

This is about the time I walk away from the conversation….......

Neuroscience IS a SCIENCE…......I don’t know what else to say. Go read some journal articles….there is SO MUCH empirical evidence to support the “existence” of mental illnesses.

That is all I have to say….....

Ria777's avatar

@j0ey: please don’t assume my ignorance.

let me make an analogy. instead of “mental illness” imagine a world in which we believe in spirits. though you can’t physically measure the existence of the spirits, they do influence human thoughts and actions.

neurologists publish papers which talk about the effect of this or that spirit in the brains of the possessed people. none of this means the spirits have any objective existence.

cockswain's avatar

@Ria777 Do you believe in Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia? How about MS?

YARNLADY's avatar

@Ria777 I tend to take the debunkers with a grain of salt. I’ve heard the same thing said about RLS and yet, as a person who has experienced it for years, I’m glad there is finally some medical relief. A one-time husband of mine actually kicked me once because of my uncontrollable twitching legs.

I heard doctors call my various symptoms of Thyroid Malfunction “women’s problems” for so many years, untreated, that when the true diagnosis came along, it felt like vindication of all my years of suffering.

So, I do not believe in “It’s all a fake marketing ploy”.

Ria777's avatar

@cockswain: sure I believe in them.

Ria777's avatar

@YARNLADY: actually, I have RLS. (not as badly as your ex-husband, though, from what it sounds like.) though in my case it has less to do with uncontrollable twitch then a signal going up to my brain to twitch. it never happens just by itself. I get a warning.

cockswain's avatar

So why do you believe those neurological disorders but not depression? Because a physical cause has been discovered?

YARNLADY's avatar

@Ria777 I meant he kicked me on purpose because of my RLS, which was unrecognized at the time

If you have experienced one of the so-called ‘fake’ disorders, then you should be more tolerant of other people’s suffering.

Jibbah_Jabbah's avatar

I think it is difficult for judgmental people who have never experienced depression to understand what happens to others when they are depressed.

Ria777's avatar

@cockswain: I don’t have a problem with this “mental disorder”. I have a problem with the “mental disorder” model generally, not only in this instance. what causes “depression”? and what causes “depression”. a chemical imbalance. and what caused that? blank stare. I think that people feel a particular way (or have a “chemical imbalance” for a reason. know what I mean?

YARNLADY's avatar

@Ria777 Exactly what do you mean? If you have the answer to what causes the Chemical Imbalance, enlighten us – you will be eligible for the Nobel Prize in medicine.

Ria777's avatar

hey, @YARNLADY, this reminds me of the people who go “support our troops” to anti-war protestors, as if the people with the protestors hated the soldiers. psychiatry promotes myths which keep miserable people miserable.

cockswain's avatar

@Ria777 I don’t know exactly what you mean. I don’t get why you believe in Alzheimer’s but not depression. Are you saying because we’ve been unable to pinpoint the physical root of depression so far, it unlikely exists? That isn’t logical.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Ria777 I don’t want to de-rail this question, but _. psychiatry promotes myths which keep miserable people _ is just a stereotype with zero basis in reality.

nikipedia's avatar

@Ria777: now think, how many advances have happened in psychiatry over the last decade.

A decade is not a lot of time for a major scientific breakthrough to happen. But since that is your threshold, here are some major advances in psychiatry since 2000 that I was able to find:

1. In 2003, scientists showed that the antidepressant effects of fluoxetine (generic prozac) depend on the growth of new brain cells. (Science.)

2. A series of research studies led to a review in 2006 describing the ways in which genes and the environment interact to cause mental illnesses. (Nature Reviews Neuroscience.)

3. In 2007, scientists showed that the connections between some brain regions are different in people with depression than in healthy people. (Biological Psychiatry.)

4. In 2008, scientists showed that deep brain stimulation may be an effective treatment for some people with depression (Journal of Affective Disorders.)

5. In 2008, scientists found that people with schizophrenia have many more tiny genetic mutations than healthy people (Science.) Another paper in the same year showed that one gene in particular seemed to be associated with schizophrenia (Nature.)

6. A 2008 paper summed up the changes that have been found to date in the brains of people with bipolar disorder. (Bipolar Disorders.)

While I didn’t set out to show this, it seems that coincidentally, most of these studies do point to biological sources (genes, changes in brain structures) for mental illnesses. Are you sure that psychiatry is unable to demonstrate a biological basis for them, or is it that you are simply unaware of the current research justifying a biological model of mental illness?

Ria777's avatar

@cockswain: “depression” will never have a “physical root” because “depression” could refer to many things. my problem with such labels rests with this. if neurologists found a specific physical cause, let’s say a vitamin defiency (spelled wrong, I know) causing people to feel bad, they’d call it Someone-Or-Other’s Syndrome and annex it into empirical science, versus the pseudoscience of “mental disorder”.

Ria777's avatar

@nikipedia: as to points 3 and 6, the way you use your brain changes it. if you use your brain enough in one particular way, then you’ll alter its structure.

point 2, 4: how does that disprove what I said?

point 5: what about when one identical twin goes crazy and the other doesn’t? that has to have an environmental cause.

nikipedia's avatar

@Ria777: I can address those arguments if you’re interested, but I think you missed my whole point. You implied no major advances had been made in psychiatry in the past decade. I believe I have demonstrated otherwise.

Ria777's avatar

@YARNLADY: Exactly what do you mean? If you have the answer to what causes the Chemical Imbalance, enlighten us – you will be eligible for the Nobel Prize in medicine.

you don’t win a Nobel for explaining what neurologists already know. you train and shape your brain with your thoughts and feelings. that can go into a feedback loop which can destroy you or enlighten you.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Ria777 I think that people feel a particular way (or have a “chemical imbalance” for a reason. know what I mean? is the exact opposite of you train and shape your brain with your thoughts and feelings. that can go into a feedback loop It is one of the other. “chemical imbalance” and “train and shape your brain” are mutually exclusive.

Ria777's avatar

@nikipedia: I can address those arguments if you’re interested

sure.

You implied no major advances had been made in psychiatry in the past decade. I believe I have demonstrated otherwise.

now I get ya. I mean, how, in any measurable way would any of these affect a person going in to get help (poor bastard!) from the shrinks. only point 4 and 5. and none of these would affect the way therapists practice, at all.

even with point 5, it would result in the same old routine. take your drugs. tell your therapist if you hear voices, etc.

Ria777's avatar

@YARNLADY: so meditation and yoga don’t work? or the power of positive thinking?

nikipedia's avatar

@Ria777: Okay, but this is kind of a bait and switch. You asked if any advances had been made and I showed you that they have. Now you’re saying the advances only count if they specifically address treatment of mental illness. I can find you more articles specifically showing advances in treatment if that’s the only thing that matters to you. Or you can find them yourself.

But it sounds like what you’re saying to me is “show me evidence that psychiatry has cured mental illnesses in the last ten years or else I won’t believe it has any worth.” That’s a heavy burden of proof, no?

kevbo's avatar

@Ria777, how exactly am I applying aggression to others to help me?

In my experience, not only do you have problems to solve, but no apparent tools with which to solve them and sometimes no ability to imagine the possibility of solutions. I don’t know how you can bootstrap with boots you can’t see or feel.

You have a point that depression is sort of incentivized these days, but that doesn’t necessarily make it unreal. If the game board is tilted in an unhealthy way as you describe, then why wouldn’t a percentage of the population manifest as depressives? You imply that the context is real. Why would you not expect the consequence for some people to be real? Similarly, we have all the nutritional information in the world and obesity is, in reality, at an all time high. Right… put down the fork. Go outside.

I suppose, though, your main fault is lumping your disaffection for “victims” in with your disdain for the snake oil salesman. Perhaps you can change your tone a bit to indicate a little educative compassion for the weak-minded delusionals as you give us your tour of the man behind the curtain.

Your basic message (of thoughts producing good or bad), by the way, is not something I don’t already know and haven’t applied or attempted to apply in so many ways. (I’ve read plenty on that methodology as well, and I even keep checklists of that kind of stuff by my bed.) But, even at that, it’s sometimes just not accessible.

Ria777's avatar

@kevbo:You have a point that depression is sort of incentivized these days, but that doesn’t necessarily make it unreal. If the game board is tilted in an unhealthy way as you describe, then why wouldn’t a percentage of the population manifest as depressives? You imply that the context is real. Why would you not expect the consequence for some people to be real?

then in that case they need to hear the message even more.

Your basic message (of thoughts producing good or bad), by the way, is not something I don’t already know and haven’t applied or attempted to apply in so many ways. [...] But, even at that, it’s sometimes just not accessible.

I don’t know what mean by “just not accessible”. if the prevailing message says you have no hope of helping yourself other than therapists and pills, I want to say otherwise.

jerv's avatar

I feel it is quite ignorant. Being the “example” type I am, I feel that these people should be kicked square in the nuts with steel-toed boots and then belittled for showing pain.

Then again, it is easy to underestimate what you never experience. For instance, my wife cannot understand my short attention span,general restlessness, impatience, and occasional jumpiness simply because she isn’t me and never experiences those things. My teachers in school barely understood that it was something more than merely me having a bad attitude.
As it turns out, Aspergers often manifests at least some of the traits of ADD/ADHD, .but since >99% of the population does not have any form of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). it’s really hard for most people to understand what it’s like. The same is true of depression, arthritis, and just about any other abnormality.

Those types of people can claim that I am weak-willed and undisciplined; I will rest securely in the knowledge that they are ignorant, unsympathetic fuckwads.

mattbrowne's avatar

Ignorant opinions create stigmas whether it’s about alleged “superior human races” or the “laziness of sad people”. We have to fight this with all the power of our words instead of slaps into the face. The question is why is there this blatant ignorance? Lack of education is one reason, but there must be other factors as well. Only when we know the reasons we can develop good strategies to eliminate stigma and ignorance. Calling them names won’t solve the problem.

Some forms of depression are a life-threatening condition. But fortunately many cases can be treated quite effectively.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I think some people use depression as an excuse to get attention and it makes me really upset. I’ve have crap happen like everyone else and I’m hesitant to call it depression when I get upset. It’s a matter of personal will power and, sometimes, medication that will help someone. Not so much sympathy, as it could cause you to become a crutch for that person.

jerv's avatar

@py_sue Many people don’t know real depression though. ANd medication doesn’t always work. Hell, in most cases, it screws things up worse, possibly making a person suicidal! See, the human brain is a tricky thing and not wwell understood. Doctors will try this, that, and the other for a “one cure fits all” approach, and that is dangerous.

While you are correct that some people do that, that is like saying that all poor people are lazy drug addicts. Those people give the truly depressed a bad rep the same way that kiddy-diddlers are besmirching the name of Catholicism.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

@jerv Thanks. That’s the other point I had in my head. There’s also anxiety medication that’s used for depression. I don’t personally like using medication when I feel like crap. I feel weird taking something sometimes and finding out that it’s used for other things. the mind is a tricky thing, as you said. I do believe that one has to want to not be depressed and it is a matter of will power.

kevbo's avatar

@Ria777, if you literally can’t imagine or remember something, even if temporarily, then it is not accessible as an option, possibility or tool. If you personally can’t imagine how it’s possible for someone to “forget” the basic process for ameliorating depression, then you don’t understand the experience.

I have a good understanding (although a weak practice) of the concept of “changing your brain by what thoughts you think and what you do.” In fact, cognitive behavioral therapy is basically learning about how that works and methods to make it happen (and happens to be the most helpful therapy I have received, although I have other sources for that basic understanding as well). So, to me it seems that therapy in particular is congruent with your ideas about solving one’s problems. I don’t see how you can be against that kind of aggressive treatment. I don’t see how you can be against throwing your effort into learning how to handle with your problems instead of having them handle you.

I don’t know… do depressives have more hope than therapists and pills? What is a typical depressive doing in the time leading up to seeking a therapist? I’m sure some see the commercial on the evening news and make an appointment for the next day, but I bet most spend a few days or weeks being miserable and/or immobilized. It’s not even depression, clinically speaking, unless you’ve been under for two weeks or more. If you’ve been reduced to shitting where you eat for two weeks (figuratively speaking), what’s the likelihood that you’re going to be cognizant of the fact that it all comes down to you and you simply have problems to solve and seeing what those problems might be?

I don’t know about pills. I’ve taken them in the past, but they aren’t for me.

jerv's avatar

@py_sue As a person that is in a demographic that is barely understood even by the medical profession, is often over-medicated (us Aspies react oddly to meds, and are often prescribed a horse-dose), I personally avoid meds altogether. I tried a few meds for a short time, but the side-effects were worse than the affliction. If you got a quarter-sized glob of molten metal splashed on your forearm, would you care? I didn’t, thanks to Paxil. I was so un-anxious that I was a danger to myself… not that I had any real concept of “self” any more.
But willpower only goes so far. And just as not all people can bench-press 750 pounds, not all of us can overcome our particular issues. Personally, I consider myself lucky that I an merely quirky when unmedicated… so long as I can smoke (Dopamine is a good thing!), drink soda (caffeine and sugar; poor-man’s Ritalin) and alcohol (to slam on the brakes when I overdo the stimulants), and basically use my own experience to balance things out in the same way that a diabetic balanced insulin injections and sugary snacks.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

@jerv Thank you for the personal insight. I understand depression as much a child of an ugly divorce can. It’s left me with a pretty constant anxiety problem and I’ve had different medications that just didn’t work. The one I do have is only used to get myself calm enough so that I can get myself to sleep. That’s usually the only time I need it. My doctor knows this, btw I’m really sorry about the Paxil episode.

kevbo's avatar

@Ria777, then in that case they need to hear the message even more.

Now that I understand better where you are coming from, I agree with you. Many messages need to be changed and repeated ad infinitum instead of the unhelpful ones that we hear every day. The sheer magnitude of that disconnect and the seeming futility to overcome that deficit is one of the bigger contributors to my depression. As I’ve said elsewhere, someday I will flip that switch, but that impetus is still incubating.

thriftymaid's avatar

Real clinical depression is certainly not an excuse to be lazy or weak. That handful of whiners on this site that I’ve mentioned before could fall into the category of people who say they are depressed to get attention or fail to engage in life and society.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

For anyone who does not understand what depression really is and who really wants to know what it is and what it is not I suggest they visit this web site . If after learning about depression from a reliable source, they still equate depression with laziness and being weak-willed, then they are ignorant and determined to remain so.

meagan's avatar

Lots of people do it for attention, and thats where this stereotype comes from.

JeffVader's avatar

To me that viewpoint falls into exactly the same category as racism, sexism, homophobia or any other prejudice you care to mention. As with all prejudice it seems to be fuelled by a combination of ignorance & fear. As a mental health worker I get to see the upshot of views such as this on a regular basis. People with severe & enduring problems, being verbally abused & even beaten up on the streets, yet it doesn’t really get any attention from the press, I wonder why….?
I’m not really sure if there are more cases now, or if it’s just better reported, & correctly diagnosed now. Certainly in the past people would have been depressed. I mean, being homosexual before the 60’s was a criminal offence & would have led to incarceration in a Mental Hospital. Not exactly the type of environment that’s conducive to a healthy frame of mind. Also when you consider the role of women throughout history, it’s hard to imagine they were blissfully happy with their circumstances.
To me depression is simply a normal reaction to the events of your life. If horrible things happen, especially if they’re over a prolonged time frame then it will take it’s toll, that’s common sense. I feel the pharmaceuticals companies & psychiatric profession have blurred this issue in a very cynical way by presenting the argument that depression is due to a biological change in the brain. This is a view that suits their profession very well…. but has no evidence to back it up.

Sophief's avatar

People who say that are just ignorant. I hope they never have to go through this terrible illness.

wundayatta's avatar

I just wanted to say that all these hypotheses about whether there is such a thing as “depression” and whether various treatments treat it effectively or at all are testable. It sounds to me that people here are basically discussing theory or personal experience. These things are all well and good, but when you get down to it, there is no resolution of differences without testing all the hypotheses.

I’m sure many of the hypotheses have already been tested—particularly the medical models for depression. @Ria777 has been arguing based on theory, as far as I can tell, and has not provided any evidence to support his theory. Until he does so, I suggest that any further discussion is pointless, unless you happen to enjoy saying the same thing over and over.

Just saying.

cockswain's avatar

@wundayatta Agreed. So many threads seem to get maybe 20–30 comments, until one person takes a “controversial” stance (to put it nicely) and then the next 80 comments are people debating with that person. Once that happens, the discussion generally never fully recovers.

Ria777's avatar

I can’t force anyone to debate with me, @cockswain. the original poster asked a question and I answered it.

Ria777's avatar

@wundayatta: I’m sure many of the hypotheses have already been tested—particularly the medical models for depression.

tell me how you could test it. as I said above, you can’t disprove the mental disorder model any more than you can the evil spirits model.

Ria777's avatar

“fucking depression. how does it work?”

wundayatta's avatar

@Ria777 It’s not my field, but I provided an overall description of the scientific method, which is how you test it.

The issue is not one of disproving a model. It is one of providing evidence in support of a model. It is theoretically possible to have two models for the same behavior that are both supported by all the evidence so far gathered. But researchers will soon design studies that will enable them to compare each model’s ability to predict various behaviors. Eventually, they will be able to differentiate between them using the scientific method.

Anyway, you can be sure that if I were in the field, I would quickly give you a dozen testable hypotheses that would distinguish your mental health model from other mental health models. You can also be sure that if you do a minimal lit review, you’ll find a lot of research that has already answered the question you are asking.

Ria777's avatar

@wundayatta: The issue is not one of disproving a model. It is It is one of providing evidence in support of a model.

well, you can’t prove it or disprove it.

the central myth says that a “mental disorder” causes and a “chemical imbalance” and that a “mental disorder” causes a “chemical imbalance”. it comes down to a tautology. tell me how you can weigh or measure the existence of a disorder that exists in the mind. you can’t. you only measure activity in the brain. I have a different idea of what causes that activity that doesn’t rely on a tautology.

you can’t refer to the evidence (even in broad and general terms the way you could about a field about which you can’t honestly call yourself an expert) because it doesn’t and can’t exist.

Zaku's avatar

@Ria777 I was answering the question, giving my opinion about ”the opinion depression is “just an excuse for being lazy and weak-willed”?

Siren's avatar

I think people who make those comments are extremely selfish and self-centered in life, not looking around them at the ails of their fellow human beings, and hence having no sympathy whatsoever for anyone but themselves in their crude race to success. These people will most likely experience depression in the most inconvenient time of their life themselves, and have that epiphany they truly didn’t wish for.

wundayatta's avatar

@Ria777 I don’t think that you understand the scientific method. I also have great difficulty understanding your logic. The things you said were a tautology, but had nothing to do with mental health research. Science is about measurable things. You are right that you can’t measure internal states, but you can surely measure behavior and genetic makeup and physical activity inside the brain.

If the levels of various neurotransmitters in a brain are significantly different when comparing normal people with people who exhibit behaviors we call mental illness, they there is a correlation between those things. If, when one compares the changes in the various neurotransmitters when using chemicals, mental techniques or doing nothing, and there is a significant difference in the levels of neurotransmitters and the associated behavior, and there is a significant difference between the various interventions, then you can say that each intervention is correlated with this amount of change in a mentally ill person’s behavior.

I also don’t think you have a very nuanced understanding of the way genes and environment work together. It is a mistake to say that any particular behavior is a result of only one or the other. Genes have the potential to program the body in specific ways that respond to the specific stresses of different environments. Genes contain the programming to respond in a way that makes it more likely the individual will succeed in many different environments.

Some genes seem to be more likely to express as bipolar disorder given the same stress than other genes do. Those genes don’t always result in bipolar disorder because those individuals don’t all experience the stresses that lead to the disorder. It is interesting to speculate on how bipolar disorder can give people a survival advantage in some environments.

It appears to be true that one can manipulate one’s brain chemistry using mental techniques, too. Some people are better at this than others. I liken the choice to use mental techniques or medical interventions to the choice between using a handsaw or a chain saw to cut down a tree. Either tool will do the trick, but one is much slower than the other. The advantage of the slow one is that it works in the absence of fuel.

My preference is to use the easier technique as long as I have fuel, and then revert to the slower and more difficult technique. I think that some people value slower techniques simply because they are natural. I have no problem with that. I do have a problem when people insist that everyone would be better off if they used the hard technique.

Ria777's avatar

@wundayatta: If the levels of various neurotransmitters in a brain are significantly different when comparing normal people with people who exhibit behaviors we call mental illness, they there is a correlation between those things.

go upthread. I did not deny this. I only cast doubt on the existence of “mental illness”. you could equally say ”[compare] normal people with people possessed by spirits”. my point: you cannot prove the existence of “mental illness” in of itself any more than you could the existence of spirits.

wundayatta's avatar

@Ria777 Ok, so you’re not denying the phenomenon, just it’s label? I’m outta here. What a waste of time.

Ria777's avatar

@wundayatta: paragraphs two through four: yes, sure. aware of this.

this, too, undermines the simplistic (non-)explanation of the “chemical imbalance”. something triggers off the chemical changes. so… that has something to do with the social or physical environment and/or the person’s own actions and thoughts.

Ria777's avatar

@wundayatta: Ok, so you’re not denying the phenomenon, just it’s [sic] label? I’m outta here.

why should I deny the findings of neurology? I don’t believe in denying science. anyway, yes, I deny the label. it encourages people to think of the problems as outside ourselves and not ourselves. it allows people who perpetuate suffering in others to get off the hook. (this happened in my own family.)

j0ey's avatar

OMG….I can’t believe this is STILL going.

jerv's avatar

@j0ey I can’t believe that people have sex with horses either. Just goes to show that reality is too strange to believe :P

Theby's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy Defensiveness, irritability and anti-social behavior are not classic signs of depression. Classic signs of major depression are:
– Lack of motivation
– Too much or not enough sleep
– Memory loss
– Confusion
– Feeling of isolation
– Excessive worry

There are a couple I have left out but my memory is not too good – I suffer from major depression.
There is and always has been a stigma attached to any “mental disorder” including depression. 20 years ago most people who suffered from depression were loathe to admit to their disorder for fear of being ridiculed and/or misunderstood. I don’t think there is more depression these days. I think people with depression are being more open. Of course, one still gets the odd jerk who spews out ignorant and uneducated rubbish!

bags's avatar

I know about depression. It’s an old friend, one I’d like to get rid of. I’m hardly lazy, worked 3 jobs for a number of years. And I know of no one that would ever call me ‘weak willed’. without medication to aid my body and mind to function correctly. Willpower has nothing to do with it. It’s a black cloud that follows you, weighs you down, numbs your heart and prevents you from truly living. And no one wants a ‘living death’.

likipie's avatar

That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. True, people who don’t really have depression can fake it to get a free ride once in a while but the true disease is hell. I’ve experienced real depression and you don’t choose to be lazy or “weak-willed” it just happens. There’s nothing you can do to control your feelings or your energy level short of medication. So whoever thinks it’s an excuse for the previously stated reasons, has never experienced true depression. Take it from someone who has.

ninjacolin's avatar

Looking back over this thread, I don’t think I made my point very clearly.

I was suggesting that depression and laziness were essentially the same thing in a lot of cases. Debilitation by laziness is the same as debilitation by depression. In either case, the person is debilitated.

It’s generally assumed that “lazy” implies some sort of ability to overcome it but.. that isn’t necessarily the case. Why would someone be lazy and, say, miss work that they need to make money to survive? No one would do that on purpose.

Laziness and Depression are similar and/or the same in that they disable the victim in some way. Physical laziness could be a symptom of depression. Depression could be a symptom of physical laziness, for example, in the case of someone who is dissatisfied with their health as a result of years of physical laziness.

Anyway, it’s tricky. But I agree with the OP’s sentiment that it’s not so simple that you can rectify one or the other simply by admonishing the vicitm to “stop being lazy!”

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