What happens if you think of depression as a chronic disease?

Discussion in 'Opinions, Beliefs, & Points of View' started by plshelpme, Dec 23, 2010.

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  1. plshelpme

    plshelpme Well-Known Member

    Random thought process in my head lately...(i know it's long, but the argument is summed up in the second to last paragraph, and explained everywhere else)...not looking to upset anyone...just looking for your thoughts!!!

    depression is recognized by SOME people (definitely not ALL) as a disease, a mental illness...so why shouldn't it be perceived as all other diseases are perceived...

    For example, let's use cancer and compare it to depression.
    Both cancer and depression are treatable, somewhat in a very similar way:
    Cancer = meds + chemoTHERAPY
    Depression = meds + psychoTHERAPY.

    Depressed patients (or clients as psychologists prefer to call us) can refuse treatment by not going to therapy or not taking meds (or both). This is dangerous, but not necessarily fatal. It becomes a problem when the client is suicidal, and acts on his/her thoughts.

    Cancer patients reserve the right to refuse treatment as well. They stop going to chemo. Cancer patients refusing chemo INEVITABLY leads to death. Is this not, in some way, suicide??? However, it is completely accepted by society.

    You can argue that chemo makes you physically sick and it's torture every time. Yes, this is true. I do not wish to diminish that AT ALL. But, depression is torture as well, and personally (i know the self-harmers will agree), I would prefer physical pain to mental/emotional pain any day. It's much more bearable, and much more accepted. With mental/emotional pain, you are suffering alone. Nobody really knows what's going on, or how to deal with it. And nobody really wants to talk about it. But with physical pain, you have the support of everyone. People will take care of you and help you with daily activities. Everybody will constantly ask how you're feeling today. If i'm being tortured by the depression so much that i don't want to feed myself cuz that would require me to get out of bed, i starve. If I had just had chemo, somebody would feed me iN BED!

    Again, I do not take chemo lightly. I know it is an awful experience. But for the purpose of my argument, the torture of chemo can be compared to the mental pain suffered by suicidal people.

    Therefore, refusing chemo is a way of saying "I don't want to fight the disease anymore." ..."can't take the pain anymore", or "it's not worth it", or "what's the point". Those four quotes are the EXACT thoughts that run through my head when I want to die.

    But, giving up on fighting cancer is acceptable, although difficult. Giving up on fighting depression is not acceptable. It's a tragedy. It's awful. The death by depressed suicide is perceived as much worse than the death by refusing chemo (both are tragic and both are death...i'm not saying one is worse than the other...i'm saying that people are more upset by suicide than cancer causing death...and i'm honestly not an exception to that rule). I think society looks at it this way because they believe that suicide was a choice, and it could've been prevented; while they think cancer was not a choice, and it was inevitable, so refusing chemo made little difference.
    But what if it's not a choice? What if there is no other choice? (When I read about somebody committing suicide, it upsets me, and HONESTLY, i always think, "what a shame. that could've been prevented"...so i guess i'm questioning my own thought process as well)

    So anyways, what if we looked at depression as a chronic disease? And at some point, we're refusing chemo - aka committing suicide - b/c the pain is too much and we're done fighting the damn disease. So it's not really suicide, but instead it's the disease winning the fight.

    (again, i am not downplaying cancer. i know it is an awful thing...just using it as an example. if anybody has a better disease for this example, please let me know)
  2. bluegrey

    bluegrey Antiquities Friend

    People can and do endure a full human lifespan in the mental torture of intractable depression but cancer, even with chemotherapy usually doesn't give the sufferer much choice between life and death.
  3. aoeu

    aoeu Well-Known Member

    Depression is universally considered to be a disease by medical professionals. Anyone who would deny it is retarded.
  4. damage.case

    damage.case Well-Known Member

    Refusing treatment for a life threating illness is passive suicide. Society is more accepting of passive suicides.
  5. Lovecraft

    Lovecraft Well-Known Member

    The reason you'd get out a of a doctor/lawyer duo is that one has the right to deny medical treatments as long, and ONLY so long, as they are of sound mind to make their own decisions. I can deny that blood transfusions because I'm of sound mind, but if I'm in a coma my decisions will be made for me by my spouse or whomever else I might have given the right to do so on paper.

    However even if I have a representative of sound mind a doctor can quarantine me indefinitely against my and/or my representatives will if the doctor has good reason to believe I'm carrying a communicable illness.

    Similarly I can deny pills and/or therapy as a patient if I wish and if I'm deemed not of sound mind I can have a representative make treatment decisions, but even my representative cannot stop the doctor holding me if he thinks I'll pose a risk to others - a perfect analogue to the quarantine.

    The problem is, I think, simply that society and the law thinks that suicidal ideation is de facto a sign one is not of sound mind.

    To not be 'of sound mind' means that you have been deemed unable to choose for yourself because it is believed by the doctors that you are sufficiently deluded and/or incapable of understanding the repercussions of actions that you need someone else to care for you, and I think that that state of mind is not per se part of suicidal ideation.

    Really I think the mental health system needs that one key reform - a generalized test for deeming a person of sound mind or not; of course the law could easily delegate the responsibilities onto the guardians of persons under the age of majority but at least in the adult wards it'd be nice for them to not ab initio assume that a patient is incapable of deciding for themselves because they've stated their suicidal.
  6. Mortal Moon

    Mortal Moon Well-Known Member

    Well, glad we've got THAT one cleared up once and for all. :dry:

    You know that homosexuality was classified as a "mental illness" for most of the 20th century? I'm just saying there's room for debate, is all. That the current medical establishment accepts something as fact just doesn't make it so.

    (EDIT: Just to be perfectly clear, I do personally believe that depression is a real disease. But to simply dismiss anyone who disagrees with anything the medical profession claims as "retarded" is itself pretty retarded, and not at all conducive to actually discussing these issues in a rational way. The professionals have been dead wrong many times before, and I guarantee they'll be dead wrong again.)
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 24, 2010
  7. plshelpme

    plshelpme Well-Known Member

    good point about cancer not giving an option between life and death...i agree...

    but that's just SOME cancers...and some cancers, you can live your entire life with treatment...

    similarly, i agree that you can live your entire life suffering the mental torture of depression...but, if we think about depression as a disease in the same way we think about cancer, some depression is worse than others...some depression is more aggressive, more painful...many MANY depressed ppl are not suicidal, while others are...similar to cancer, there's a wide range of severity of depression...so with some depression, just like with some cancers, you can live your ENTIRE life with treatment...but other depressions, like other cancers, even with treatment, the disease will win and you will die because of it...

    and MAYBE, just like with cancer, some depressions don't really give you a choice between life and death...

    and yes, the medical world considers depression a disease...but, most of the population is not a member of the medical world...much of the world does not consider it a legitimate disease...i can tell you that the MAJORITY of India does not believe in mental illnesses...India values the medical profession more than any country I have ever seen...to them, "Doctors are gods" (a quote which SEVERAL indian people have said to me)...but, if you become a psychiatrist, they do not respect you AT ALL...it is a VERY NEGATIVE thing to become a psychiatrist ("or a doctor for crazy people" - the English translation of their description of psychiatrists)...to India, depression is not a disease..."happiness is a state of mind, which you have control over"..."it is your fault if you are not happy"...

    my family is indian...they don't know about my depression, but i often test the waters with them...i'll bring up these topics and listen to them talk about what they think...i want to tell them i'm depressed and suicidal so i can get the help i need, but they don't accept it...so i can't...
    in addition, they are FORCING me to be a doctor...so i am in my first year of medical school...and when they ask what speciality i want to enter, i will mention wanting to be a psychiatrist, and my parents immediately shoot it down (i have no desire to be a psychiatrist...i just enjoy fucking with them)...

    and yes, i agree with the mental health reform of determining if suicidal people are sound of mind...but that's probably not going to happen in our lifetimes...it's not gonna happen until depression is thought of as a disease in the same way as cancer and other diseases, and it's not going to happen until suicide is accepted as unpreventable...
  8. Lovecraft

    Lovecraft Well-Known Member

    Honestly I think that homosexuality should still be in the DSM seeing as premature ejaculation, having very small or no sexual desires, fetishism, sexual sadism, sexual masochism, being a transvestite and wanting to be the opposite sex are still classified as disorders (Not mental illness, a disorder is a separate idea.) if they cause mental problems to the person.

    Homosexuality occurs in significantly less than half the population and, although it doesn't have to, it can also cause personal problems (Mainly in people that can't admit to themselves that other dudes or chicks look hot) so really I don't think homosexuality was removed for any reason other than getting people to stop sending angry letters.

    To date I've heard nothing of the BDSM community trying to get fetishism or sadomasochism out of the sexual disorder section.
  9. Mortal Moon

    Mortal Moon Well-Known Member

    To me, that says a lot more about the legitimacy of the DSM than anything else, but YMMV.
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