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DEPRESSION: THE TRAGIC FACTS 1

Depression: The Tragic Facts About the Disease that Society Would Rather Hide

and the Connections of Depression and Suicide

Introduction

Depression, clinically known as Major Depressive Disorder, is defined as being a

severely depressed mood and/or inability to experience pleasure that lasts two or more weeks and

is accompanied by feelings of worthlessness, lethargy, and sleep and appetite disturbance.

(Schacter, Gilbert, Wegner and Nock 2014). While this is a perfect definition for clinical

psychologists, the ordinary citizen diagnosed with depression can paint a much more emotional

picture of the disorder for any person willing to listen.

However, even with an increasing portion of the population not only being diagnosed

with this mental illness but also coming forward about their experiences, society continues to

lean towards a continuing stigma that has long been a defining factor in how we perceive

depression itself. We will look at the hard numbers and the studies regarding not just the

connected between depression, hopelessness, and suicide, but a study on the treatment of

depression before dipping into the reality of the many issues the mentally ill face outside of their

own heads.

Literature Review

The first study researched for this paper was a study conducted to understand the attitudes

and situational precursors to suicide. The participating scientists used something they had

developed, called the Trinity Inventory of Precursors to Suicide, or TIPS. The conductors of the

study felt as though the question of Is suicide an understandable or fitting act generally? was a

limited question at best. Instead, they opted to ask, When is suicide understandable? (Smyth
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2005). They hoped that by focusing on the situational aspects of suicide programs focusing on

problem-specific intervention might be created.

The study focused on adolescents, as well as being able to give them the necessary tools

to respond to, and more effectively cope with, specific challenges and life events. Prevention

programs that present factual knowledgeon how to respond to specific stressorsin favor of

problem-centered materials. (Smyth 2005). The scientists made it clear that they wished to find

the cultural and societal contexts in which suicide was seen a viable option, and to create

programs that target attitudes toward such situations.

Results showed that each of the TIPS subscales, including role status, physical

limitations, nurturing bonds, and death, were positively and significantly correlated with

depression, suicidality, and hopelessness. (Smyth 2005). These correlations remained

unchanged among all four subscales for females, while males showed depression as related only

to the nurturing bonds scale. (Smyth 2005). This study successfully showed a correlation

between depression, suicide, and hopelessness among adolescents.

The second study researched for this paper focused on the attitudes of those diagnosed

with depression towards treatment for their mental illness. Research shows that more than

half of all patients, including those from Western countries with well-developed medical

infrastructures, either have no direct access to treatment or do not actively seek help. (Moritz

2013). The treatment gap was estimated at 43 to 56.3%. The barriers to depression treatment

were listed as: shortage of skilled therapists, long waiting lists, fear of stigma associated with

mental illness and/or psychiatric treatment, lack of treatment motivation, and negative appraisals

concerning psychotherapy and/or psychopharmacotherapy, pessimistic expectancies, difficulties


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identifying depression symptoms as such, and time as well as financial constraints. (Moritz

2013).

Results showed that the more severe the symptoms, the less likely a person was to find

treatment. They also showed that one of five patients would rather seek self-help online than

with face to face treatment. They concluded that an early intervention of psychiatric care would

be an excellent step to treatment.

Application

I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder in November of 2014. Depression, its

correlation with suicide, and its stigmas in society are something I am intimately familiar with.

On March 11, 2015, I attempted suicide. I was in the hospital, and inpatient care, for five days

before I returned to work a week later, with stitches still in my wrists. I have since continuously

struggled with suicidal ideation, and my depression symptoms stay as severe as when I was first

diagnosed.

I cannot say I was surprised by the findings of the first study. Had I not been depressed, I

never would have considered suicide. The black hole that is depression has a way of putting little

ideas in a persons mind that wouldnt have crossed them in the first place if they were a healthy

individual. The pure hopelessness that come with lifes problems become something far too big

for someone to handle.

The second studys findings were especially riveting as the stigma against depression

grows. Society would much rather ignore the problem of depression than face the ugly truth.

People do not want the stigma associated with seeing a therapist, nonetheless seeing a therapist

for a diagnosed mental illness like depression. I believe most of this problem lies in societys

inability to accept that depression is like a physical disease. My own father still does not believe
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that my mental illnesses are valid, and scoffs at scientific findings like the ones listed above. If

people seemed fine for so long, why in the world are mental illnesses suddenly so prevalent in

our society now, he asks. He blames it on the young generation being weak, not on the facts and

findings of renowned scientists around the world. How are people meant to seek treatment for

something that society continuously throws in their face as not being valid?

Conclusion

I learned from researching depression on websites like Psychology Today that depression

is not only getting worse, it is the 10 th leading cause of death in the United States as of 2014.

Despite the evidence that depression is not only a neurological disease, that it effects the body as

severely as it effects the mind, stigma against the mental illness and the disease itself continues

to remain as strongly as it did years ago. In the future I want to stay up to date on new scientific

findings, especially regarding high school and college students and the reason why depression

rates are rising so quickly among them.

I would love for education about depression and its effects to be spread in the community.

This is a topic that society pushes under a rug too often. I have 36 scars that line my forearms,

scars that I leave open and visible to the world as a reminder that this is not something to be

swept under the rug. I can only hope that society manages to open its eyes and read studies like

the ones listed above in order to begin to treat the mental illness that is eroding away the minds

and souls of millions of people in the United States.

Citation

Moritz, S., Schrder, J., Meyer, B., & Hauschildt, M. (2012). The More It Is Needed, The Less It
Is Wanted: Attitudes Toward Face-To-Face Intervention Among Depressed Patients Undergoing
Online Treatment. Depression and Anxiety, 30(2), 157-167. doi:10.1002/da.21988

Schacter, D. L., Gilbert, D. T., & Wegner, D. M. (2014). Psychology. New York, NY: Worth Publ.
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Smyth, C. L., & Maclachlan, M. (2005). Confirmatory Factor Analysis Of The Trinity Inventory
Of Precursors To Suicide (Tips) And Its Relationship To Hopelessness And Depression. Death
Studies, 29(4), 333-350. doi:10.1080/07481180590923724