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Depressed?

 
unsmoked
 
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unsmoked
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26 July 2018 12:48
 

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/03/01/head-case-2

quotes from this article:

“The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than fourteen million Americans suffer from major depression every year, and more than three million suffer from minor depression (whose symptoms are milder but last longer than two years). Greenberg thinks that numbers like these are ridiculous—not because people aren’t depressed but because, in most cases, their depression is not a mental illness. It’s a sane response to a crazy world.”

continue quote: 

“Greenberg basically regards the pathologizing of melancholy and despair, and the invention of pills designed to relieve people of those feelings, as a vast capitalist conspiracy to paste a big smiley face over a world that we have good reason to feel sick about. The aim of the conspiracy is to convince us that it’s all in our heads, or, specifically, in our brains—that our unhappiness is a chemical problem, not an existential one. Greenberg is critical of psychopharmacology, but he is even more critical of cognitive-behavioral therapy, or C.B.T., a form of talk therapy that helps patients build coping strategies, and does not rely on medication. He calls C.B.T. “a method of indoctrination into the pieties of American optimism, an ideology as much as a medical treatment.”

In fact, Greenberg seems to believe that contemporary psychiatry in most of its forms except existential-humanistic talk therapy, which is an actual school of psychotherapy, and which appears to be what he practices, is mainly about getting people to accept current arrangements. And it’s not even that drug companies and the psychiatric establishment have some kind of moral or political stake in these arrangements—that they’re in the game in order to protect the status quo. They just see, in the world’s unhappiness, a chance to make money. They invented a disease so that they could sell the cure.”  (read more in article)

Comments?

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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26 July 2018 13:31
 

He may right in many cases. There is such a thing as actual depression - it’s debilitating and not the same as being unhappy or melancholy or blue. But sometimes shit happens, and feeling down can be a “rational response”, in his words. Depression may be over-diagnosed, but the danger is in blowing it off and just assuming nothing deeper is wrong.

 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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26 July 2018 14:07
 
EN - 26 July 2018 01:31 PM

He may right in many cases. There is such a thing as actual depression - it’s debilitating and not the same as being unhappy or melancholy or blue. But sometimes shit happens, and feeling down can be a “rational response”, in his words. Depression may be over-diagnosed, but the danger is in blowing it off and just assuming nothing deeper is wrong.

My thoughts too.  I think there’s a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about the differences between intense sadness due to life’s hardships, which for most people will ‘heal’ in a certain amount of time, and serious clinical depression where despair is overwhelming to the point where the person cannot cope without help and it becomes dangerous to both health and life.  There must be cases where it is difficult for physicians to determine which applies and would rather err on the side of caution.  Perhaps better psychological/psychiatric training is needed for some (e.g. family) physicians who have been treating depression?

 
 
Jb8989
 
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Jb8989
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26 July 2018 16:06
 

Tough one. CBT is about changing the way people perceive things by altering how they feel when they see stuff - starting by trying to change negative thoughts to more positive ones when confronting something that makes you feel shitty. Or mad or frustrated or whatever. Since I’m a fan of positivism, I’m fine with CBT. Existential therapy is about embracing your limitations in order to hopefully increase how you rationalize. There’s a large humanistic component to it. It can seem abrasive for people who are subconsciously caught up in trying to avoid all the shitty things that go along with living, which is literally most people. Lumping it all in with the failings of pill-economy seems maybe a bit swooping, but he has some points.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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26 July 2018 16:09
 

I’d like a better grasp of how to objectively evaluate mental illness in general… if that’s possible. When a condition is defined solely by symptoms and those symptoms are evaluated mainly by reports of the subject and the subjects acquaintances how much confidence can we possibly have in diagnoses and trends? I don’t ask rhetorically or with any kind of contempt. I just don’t know. How stable is the consensus among professionals about what particular disorder and individual has? Or how common a particular disorder is in the community?

 
Jb8989
 
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26 July 2018 17:48
 

Of course the theme of existentialism can accompany any form of psychotherapy.  But an actual existentialist therapist might call you out. It’s not exactly strengths focused.

 
 
unsmoked
 
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27 July 2018 11:39
 
Jb8989 - 26 July 2018 04:06 PM

Tough one. CBT is about changing the way people perceive things by altering how they feel when they see stuff - starting by trying to change negative thoughts to more positive ones when confronting something that makes you feel shitty. Or mad or frustrated or whatever. Since I’m a fan of positivism, I’m fine with CBT. Existential therapy is about embracing your limitations in order to hopefully increase how you rationalize. There’s a large humanistic component to it. It can seem abrasive for people who are subconsciously caught up in trying to avoid all the shitty things that go along with living, which is literally most people. Lumping it all in with the failings of pill-economy seems maybe a bit swooping, but he has some points.

I highlighted one of your sentences.

In Zen literature - “Like a snowflake on a red-hot stove.”

Here in the West are we encouraged to use mental activity to solve all the shitty things that go along with living?  Krishnamurti used to point out that if we knew the answer we’d solve it (the problem, the shitty thing that is depressing us etc.)  He suggested that if the mind is quiet and relaxed (instead of buzzing around being depressed, looking for an answer that isn’t there), then something new and creative might come to us - a door might open that we didn’t know was there.

The ‘Zen therapy’ in this case, is to know that the answer isn’t there so the fretting or depression (thoughts about it) don’t land in our consciousness -  “Like a snowflake on a red hot stove.”

Another Zen line in this vein, “One thought about it and you fly into hell like an arrow.”

I think most people see this as escapism, not an intelligent response, not a creative response.  Again, are we taught that fretting and worry are ways to solve the shitty things?  Prozac? 

EN will be familiar with the Christian reference to this:  http://biblehub.com/matthew/6-27.htm  (I think I saw Saralyn and Mario start to touch on it a few days ago).

Appreciate all your comments.

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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27 July 2018 11:46
 
unsmoked - 27 July 2018 11:39 AM

EN will be familiar with the Christian reference to this:  http://biblehub.com/matthew/6-27.htm

That’s Jesus’ version of “live in the moment.” Regret over the past and worry about the future can send you into a very dark place.

 
unsmoked
 
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27 July 2018 12:12
 
EN - 27 July 2018 11:46 AM
unsmoked - 27 July 2018 11:39 AM

EN will be familiar with the Christian reference to this:  http://biblehub.com/matthew/6-27.htm

That’s Jesus’ version of “live in the moment.” Regret over the past and worry about the future can send you into a very dark place.

Mother Nature/evolution are probably working on this . . . the best medicine the Reader’s Digest used to talk about.  In another topic, Lady Jane posted this a few days ago.  I thought its effect would wear off after several viewings, but I’m still susceptible to the ‘contagion’ (an influence that spreads rapidly).

Posted: 24 July 2018 13:59 (by Lady Jane)

It’s no mystery that laughter is contagious…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fM45JMTpkBU

 

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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27 July 2018 13:18
 

Some of what’s being discussed here seems to be about what people can do to reduce stress, lead a happier life, avoid undue sadness – which is all good but does little for actual depression.

Serious depression makes much of this impossible.  Once in the depths of despair (brain chemistry changes?), one can become completely unable to quiet the mind, creativity is impossible, decisiveness is impossible, genuine laughter is impossible, living in such a moment is awful and a better future cannot be envisioned.  Sometimes life’s tragedies, or one’s brain chemistry, can lead to a complete inability to cope, no matter how much effort is made.  It may seem like a cop-out, but sometimes antidepressants really are the answer.

 
 
nonverbal
 
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27 July 2018 13:22
 
EN - 27 July 2018 11:46 AM
unsmoked - 27 July 2018 11:39 AM

EN will be familiar with the Christian reference to this:  http://biblehub.com/matthew/6-27.htm

That’s Jesus’ version of “live in the moment.” Regret over the past and worry about the future can send you into a very dark place.

But couldn’t the same be said about ignoring the past as well as future inevitabilities?

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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27 July 2018 14:53
 

Obviously there are many types of depression, and there are many ways to deal with it.  The idea that bad moods are merely some sort of chemical imbalance is over-simplified.  Who is to say that some clinical depression isn’t a brain wiring issue?  Or a habit of negative thought patterns?  Or a learned response?  Or a sign that it’s time for a life change?  Or a combo? 

I thought one of the most interesting sentences in the article was this: 
What a load of evidence does seem to suggest is that care works for some of the people some of the time, and it doesn’t much matter what sort of care it is.

I’m reminded of the thread I started about the Thai soccer team boys who were trapped in the cave.  They have all become Buddhist acolytes (except for one who wasn’t Buddhist).  This is described as more a rite of passage than a permanent commitment.  Their families recognize their mental trauma and attempt to give them a way to be embraced by a calm guiding hand.  I hope it works for them. 

It would be an interesting study to compare the mental health of the Thai young men in the years to come with the health of the Chilean miners who were trapped in 2010.  Several of the miners stated that they believed it was important to return to a normal routine of work as soon as possible.  But I wonder if this rush to move on could have contributed to depression and PTSD reported by some miners.  Maybe the Thai response of treating the episode as a major turning point shows more wisdom?

 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
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28 July 2018 04:38
 

I am now!

Psychology and psychiatry are difficult enough without a humanities professor confusing it for the none-the-wiser readers of a literary magazine.  Correcting the misdirection and outright error in that article would take a rewrite twice as long as the article itself.  And most likely, readers of The New Yorker would still be none the wiser…

[ Edited: 28 July 2018 04:58 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
MARTIN_UK
 
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28 July 2018 05:53
 
Brick Bungalow - 26 July 2018 04:09 PM

I’d like a better grasp of how to objectively evaluate mental illness in general… if that’s possible. When a condition is defined solely by symptoms and those symptoms are evaluated mainly by reports of the subject and the subjects acquaintances how much confidence can we possibly have in diagnoses and trends? I don’t ask rhetorically or with any kind of contempt. I just don’t know. How stable is the consensus among professionals about what particular disorder and individual has? Or how common a particular disorder is in the community?

I too see the difficulty in evaluation and diagnosis Brick, disorders are identified mostly by a bunch of similar symptoms that fit under a particular umbrella that fit the description of a certain disorder. Quite often those disorders are overlapping too.
Luckily using a person centred approach you can usually find treatment to suit a person’s particular condition.

 
Jb8989
 
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28 July 2018 07:02
 
unsmoked - 27 July 2018 11:39 AM
Jb8989 - 26 July 2018 04:06 PM

Tough one. CBT is about changing the way people perceive things by altering how they feel when they see stuff - starting by trying to change negative thoughts to more positive ones when confronting something that makes you feel shitty. Or mad or frustrated or whatever. Since I’m a fan of positivism, I’m fine with CBT. Existential therapy is about embracing your limitations in order to hopefully increase how you rationalize. There’s a large humanistic component to it. It can seem abrasive for people who are subconsciously caught up in trying to avoid all the shitty things that go along with living, which is literally most people. Lumping it all in with the failings of pill-economy seems maybe a bit swooping, but he has some points.

I highlighted one of your sentences.

In Zen literature - “Like a snowflake on a red-hot stove.”

Here in the West are we encouraged to use mental activity to solve all the shitty things that go along with living?  Krishnamurti used to point out that if we knew the answer we’d solve it (the problem, the shitty thing that is depressing us etc.)  He suggested that if the mind is quiet and relaxed (instead of buzzing around being depressed, looking for an answer that isn’t there), then something new and creative might come to us - a door might open that we didn’t know was there.

The ‘Zen therapy’ in this case, is to know that the answer isn’t there so the fretting or depression (thoughts about it) don’t land in our consciousness -  “Like a snowflake on a red hot stove.”

Another Zen line in this vein, “One thought about it and you fly into hell like an arrow.”

I think most people see this as escapism, not an intelligent response, not a creative response.  Again, are we taught that fretting and worry are ways to solve the shitty things?  Prozac? 

EN will be familiar with the Christian reference to this:  http://biblehub.com/matthew/6-27.htm  (I think I saw Saralyn and Mario start to touch on it a few days ago).

Appreciate all your comments.

As a one stop shop, there’s no universal answer. Decoupling (1) the thought, from (2) the worry, could be achieved from many different angles. I love existentialism. Pepper in some zen and you have a solid modern approach.

 
 
EN
 
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28 July 2018 14:19
 
nonverbal - 27 July 2018 01:22 PM
EN - 27 July 2018 11:46 AM
unsmoked - 27 July 2018 11:39 AM

EN will be familiar with the Christian reference to this:  http://biblehub.com/matthew/6-27.htm

That’s Jesus’ version of “live in the moment.” Regret over the past and worry about the future can send you into a very dark place.

But couldn’t the same be said about ignoring the past as well as future inevitabilities?

Yes, but if you let those things rule you, it leads to darkness.  Learn your lessons and move on. To many people are stuck on things they can’t change:

 
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