When are you depressed and require treatment and when are you just sad?

The quick and easy answer for me is: if it lasts more than a few hours or a couple of days, it is worth finding out what is going on.

According to Professor Gordon Parker of the Black Dog Institute (an Australian Institute dedicated to the treatment of depression) people who are just sad are being treated as if they were depressed.

That people experiencing a perfectly normal time of sadness, or ‘a bit of a downer’, are being medicated.

However, a quite opposite view is that of Ian Hickie from the University of Sydney Brain and Mind Research Institute. According to Professor the use of anti-depressants has led to a decrease in suicide.


Treating those who are sad means that people are treated before they become depressed – which is very desirable, and potentially life-saving.

From my point of view drugs are good – they help us feel better and make us healthier. However, neither of these gentlemen mention the side-effects, nor the difficulties of withdrawal from them. I was living with someone who went through the initial two weeks of going on to an anti-depressant and the several weeks of withdrawal coming off it: neither of these times was something you would want to go through.

Neither is it pointed out that there are other possibilities – for those with only mild depression, things like going for a walk.

Neither are the causes looked at: a country where something one third of mental health complaints are for depression (as is the case in Australia) could try looking at its social organisation. Surely the appalling numbers of people being treated for depression says something about our lifestyles!

Have you ever felt seriously depressed? Have drugs been helpful to you? Have you had to handle the side-effects and withdrawal?

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