Demystifying Depression/Facing the Prejudice

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Facing the Prejudice


Most of the advice contained in both instalments of this document is based on one very important assumption: society will give you the means to recover. Unfortunately, this is still far from being the case. A seriously depressed person cannot constantly go over their limits if their brains are to be given any chance of recovering. Take the practical example of restarting work: one has to build up the activity slowly, in accordance with the increase of the maximum capacity of the brain (remember Figure 6 from The Recovery Process). Obviously, this requires some sort of official recognition of the particularities of depression. In theory, this is part of the law and recognised in most civilised countries. In practise, things can be very different.

Do not assume that because you live in an otherwise tolerant and socially-minded society, depression will also be well understood. Bear in mind that other factors come into play, most importantly the fact that cure takes a long time, which means it is also very expensive for an employer. Also, the overall stance towards mental illness might be biased by the prevailing religious substrate, influencing attitudes even of non-religious people: take the example of Calvinism here in the Netherlands. All in all, when depression is the subject, do not be surprised when society shows its ugly side. The good old advice of stashing away some six-months worth of salary for a rainy day is very much applicable in the case of depression: you will need it.

Interestingly enough, I see no reason—other than prejudice and bad will—why the state of affairs should remain like this. Take again a look at the section on Quantifying Depression: it is well within our means to devise reliable objective tests to assess the seriousness of a depression and/or to determine when a person is again fit enough to work. Depression itself provides more than enough misery. It is inhumane and cruel that the problem should be compounded by lack of recognition.

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