Clinical Depression is a horrible, nasty, bit that can ruin people and destroy families.  So many people are living in the gloom of depression without realizing they are so far into the depths that they cannot see there is a way out.

Now we have scientific research pointing us in a frightening, new, direction:  Depression Can Lead to Alzheimer’s:

As if depression wasn’t bad enough on its own, new research suggests older adults with depressive symptoms are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s is a fatal brain disorder marked by memory loss and an inability to function in daily life. Researchers have long known that depression and Alzheimer’s disease are linked, but it wasn’t clear whether depression was a risk factor for Alzheimer’s or a symptom of the disease.

Now, two studies published in the July 6 issue of the journal Neurology conclude that depression is indeed separate from Alzheimer’s and that depressive symptoms can raise the risk of dementia by 50 percent.

If depression increases the risk of acquiring Alzheimer’s was not rotten enough news, the New York Times now reports there is an impending “radicalization of the natural grieving process” afoot in the forthcoming D.S.M. 5:

A startling suggestion is buried in the fine print describing proposed changes for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — perhaps better known as the D.S.M. 5, the book that will set the new boundary between mental disorder and normality. If this suggestion is adopted, many people who experience completely normal grief could be mislabeled as having a psychiatric problem.

Suppose your spouse or child died two weeks ago and now you feel sad, take less interest and pleasure in things, have little appetite or energy, can’t sleep well and don’t feel like going to work. In the proposal for the D.S.M. 5, your condition would be diagnosed as a major depressive disorder.

This would be a wholesale medicalization of normal emotion, and it would result in the overdiagnosis and overtreatment of people who would do just fine if left alone to grieve with family and friends, as people always have. It is also a safe bet that the drug companies would quickly and greedily pounce on the opportunity to mount a marketing blitz targeted to the bereaved and a campaign to “teach” physicians how to treat mourning with a magic pill.

I wonder why we, as a society, are so hard on those with clinical depression?

Few realize the ravages of the chemical disorder and fewer still are willing to work with — or even feebly tolerate — a depressed person in their presence to help them manage a perpetual state of being that ravages and bends and scrapes and flays from within on a daily basis.

Depression is the original shaming — “It’s their fault; they need to cheer up!” — pointed finger label of blame that always does more harm than help.

Now the pseudo-criminalization of the natural process of grieving in the forthcoming D.S.M. 5 appears to demonstrate even more so that we — as a collective mind in a dying economy — prefer to punish any perceived depression around us, not with light, but with demonization, because the greater of us fear, more than anything, falling into the same hole with no way out of the darkness.

5 Comments

    1. The clinically depressed live in a difficult, misunderstood, world. They can be their own worst enemy, so demonizing them only makes the accuser feel better — because there’s no real effect on the indicted that can change the behavior.

  1. How sad David; I agree with Gordon. My dad, prior to his death a year ago, was starting to suffer from early symptoms of Alzheimer’s; I now wonder if he ever had boughts of depression that perhaps went undiagnosed? My mother, who is still living, was recently taken to the ER (near the anniversary if you will call it that, of my father’s passing) and she was mildly depressed and also dehydrated as well; she is fine now after a quick trip to her Dr., but I have consulted with her Dr. regarding possible mild depression in the hopes to stave off anything further down the line.

    It is also sad that we, as a society, tend to look down upon anything & anyone who might be different in any way, including the whole Ra Ra cheer up theory when dealing with those who might actually suffer from depression and we tend to tell them to snap out of it and cheer up. It’s rather like victimizing the victim all over again.

    1. Right on target, Jamie! Your thoughts about your father are touching. Thanks for sharing that information with us.

      Depression is ugly and invisible. People who are depressive, but still sort of able to move about in the world, are pretty good at hiding the symptoms — because they know few people will really understand — even though the condition oftentimes affects their behavior.

      One indicator of depression is over-sleeping in healthy adults. We really only need 7 hours of sleep a day — and if someone you know is sleeping 10 hours, or taking 3-4 hour naps a day — you might want to help them and see if they’ve seen a doctor to get some help and analysis.