Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Can depression be cured by smiling and positivity?

This week, on return from our holiday I have encountered some derogatory comments on Facebook with regards to my depression and indeed the depressive illness that so many others now suffer from. For those of you that were unable to read it, it was along the lines of 'the smile and the whole world will change for you' or worse, 'Think positive thoughts and your depression will diminish.' As we now know that the depression I suffered was down to a critical imbalance in my hormones and not a reaction to a life event ,these comments were particularly hurtful especially when that person doesn't know me personally. They even asked me to drop 'the belief' the my problems were down to my hormones despite the fact that my hormones had been tested in a scientific blood test and were shown to be dangerously low which had caused my previous 25 years of misery and almost ended my life.

Just for the record, and yes I am hurt and angry by these comments, you can no more smile through the misery of mental illness than you could laugh through the diagnoses of diabetes. It is not something that you can 'over-ride' by the power of subjective thought, and it is not the fault of the sufferer for not smiling enough or having enough positive energy. In fact anyone that knows me personally knows that I am always smiling and have a contagious laugh which is indeed why so many are often surprised to learn of my illness.

The reason I am so disturbed by these comments is because there are thousands of scientists, DRs and medical professionals working tirelessly around the clock to help people with depressive illness regardless of its origin. Secondly, there are also thousands of people  each year who commit suicide because of the brutal and diabolical affliction that is depression. The reason for this is because they are sick, just as if they have tonsillitis or appendicitis and this is not something that can merely be helped by a smile and positive attitude (if only). To say so is deeply offensive and ill informed and could even be dangerous if it stops someone seeking help.

Depression is a bio-chemical abnormality and in my experience the ones that say that depression can be altered by smiling more or thinking positive thoughts, are firstly deluded, and secondly are lucky enough to not be a sufferer of this clinical illness (they may think they have but I can assure you they haven't).I am concerned that derogatory comments of this nature can lead to further demoralize the already fragile sufferer and lead to further isolation of the illness, being that we should just smile our way through it. I also worry that the sufferer will blame themselves and see themselves as a failure which can exacerbate the condition itself. For further clarity and help regarding this all too important issue I have just read the most amazing book which shows you how rather than being an illness of 'the weak' or 'unsmiling' it is actually the opposite which causes the illness we know as depression. It is more often than not those that have continuously smiled for far too long and have carried the most immense of burdens in their lives which has caused their illness and the subsequent mental crisis. Once the sufferer learns of this it can free you from the guilt and stigma of your own battle with this illness.

For further help and support I would read 'Depressive Illness' The Curse of the Strong by DR Tim Cantopher which explains everything you need to know about why depression is in fact a physical illness which requires treatment, just as any other.
Sorry for the rant, Suzi x

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