Sunday, December 9, 2012

Depression vs. Cancer: An Investigation

By Glenn Campbell (in Fayetteville, NC)

I saw this sign (above) at the Newark airport yesterday, and it pissed me off.
"You'd never say, 'It's just cancer, get over it.' So why do some say that about depression?"
I say cancer and depression are completely different. Furthermore, equating the two may be doing a great disservice to depression sufferers.

Cancer has very little to do with your attitude—at least after you already have it. It is a physical disease that is likely to kill most people without aggressive medical intervention. The implication here is that depression is also a disease you have no control over that requires outside medical intervention.

Depression, in fact, is all about attitude! Unlike cancer, only you can cure your own depression. Modern medicine is limited to two options: drugs and counseling. Every addict knows that drugs can make you happy, but the problem with all kinds of drugs—legal or otherwise—is they don't solve the underlying problem, whatever it may be, so you'll probably revert back to depression after you go off them. The claim that antidepressants are non-addictive is nonsense. If something makes you feel good, who wouldn't want to keep doing it?

The aim of counseling, on the other hand, is to change your attitude, to get you to take responsibility for controlling your own mood. This is essentially the opposite of the "Depression is something you have no control over" message.

In either case, someone is making a lot of money. Either it's the drug companies selling you their drugs or the medical establishment making big hourly rates on counseling. No one makes any money if you take control and solve the problem yourself.

Ultimately, the only way to cure depression is for the sufferer himself find some way to manage and assimilate it. Far more than cancer, your personal attitude and willingness to change have a huge impact on your depression. Yes, you must "Get over it" one way or another!

So who is sponsoring this sign? I suspect it is the drug industry, which has a big financial stake in making you think you have no control so they can sell you their patented antidepressants. Or maybe it is the people who make money from counseling. Unfortunately, it is hard to read the fine print on the ad in my photo, so I don't know for sure.

To find out more, I went to the website given,, and it doesn't exist! Click for yourself. "Domain Name Not Found." Change the suffix, however, and we do better: does exist. This seems to be the correct site, offering not-for-profit tips on depression. The site is professionally produced but says remarkably little: Just four articles of bland and useless advice ("Be sure to discuss your depression with your partner.") and links to Wikipedia and HeathGuide. You'd get a more useful and relevant information by simply Googling "depression".

Nowhere on this website does it say who the sponsor is. There's no foundation name or anything else. I could try to track down who owns the domain name, but why should I have to? Why the big mystery?

An observation: .ORG is suppose to refer to an non-commercial organization while .COM is a commercial one. This may or may not mean anything, but it is funny that someone would put all the effort into these signs and not even bother to register the website the sign is directing people to. It seems to me the main reason for the sign is not to direct people to any website but to perpetuate the message: "Depression = Cancer". The website just seems like a pro-forma requirement for the one person out of a thousand who will actually look it up.

This ad is probably an unpaid public service message, provided free by the ad company when signs are unsold. That doesn't prove it is "good" however. A lot of legally "nonprofit" organizations have dubious pedigrees, set up by people who have a lot to gain by spreading a certain message.

Depression is a part of life. Anyone who hasn't suffered from it hasn't lived. You feel depressed when things go wrong, and sometimes you feel depressed for no good reason. All of us must learn to deal with it. The only people who don't deal with it are those who don't accept it that it is their own problem, who insist that somebody else must solve it for them. These people are happy to seek out medical help because it helps them avoid making any changes in their own life.

This ad plays right into their hands. Depression is like cancer, so you don't have to face it yourself. Take it to qualified medical practitioner who will bill your insurance company.

Everybody makes money, but is the patient really cured?