Depression myths deal with women, stress and lifestyles
A psychology professor, concerned about women's preoccupation with negative thoughts, calls them "the four Ds": defeated, defective, deserted and deprived.
Bonnie Strickland, president of the American Psychological Association in 1987 and professor at the University of Massachusetts, established the association's Task Force on Women and Depression. She recently gave an important presentation exposing some myths.
Everyone gets depressed. You can count on it. It is so widespread - 4 to 6 per cent of the population suffers from it at any one time - that it has been called the "common cold of mental disorders."
In that sense, then, depression is quite normal and should not necessarily be cause for alarm. There is no way to prevent some disappointments in life, such as a loved one passing away, a child failing to meet your expectations or an investment going sour.
Francine can't say why her son started to feel the way he did, or when, but last year she finally realized there was something very wrong with 11-year-old Paul.
"He always had a vivid imagination, was a gregarious open child with lots of self-confidence," she recalls. "He was bright but never worked to his full potential."
But in Grade 6, Paul started having serious problems with a couple of subjects, and by Grade 7 he was floundering. He started to miss school, was withdrawn, upset and felt no one liked him.
Francine suggested he seek treatment but he refused.
DEAR DR. MacINNIS: I recall that some years ago you printed a questionnaire on mental depression. If the answer was "yes" to most of them, the chances were you were severely depressed and required treatment. I was one of those who answered "yes" to all of them. I received anti-depression treatment from my doctor and in a month felt fine and "chucked" the pills for good over a year ago.
I believe many readers would benefit from that questionnaire again as well as an article on depression in later life. Many thanks.
-MRS. M.E. (65)