Dare to Ask: Who suffers from depression?
By Phillip Milano
I read the book "I Can't Believe You Asked That!" and was especially
intrigued by the entry on depression by 14-year-old Katie. I was wondering, who
else suffers from depression?
David, Los Angeles
Note to readers: Katie posted a message to our site, Yforum.com, some time
back, alluding to possible plans for suicide. She was in our book. We advised
local authorities, who talked with her and her parents.
I do, as does everyone in my family. It's insidious and can ruin your life.
Talk therapy is supposed to be best. Medications can keep you functioning, and I
disagree with those who criticize people for using them.
Margaret, 52, Belmont, Calif.
I read the book, too, and was also intrigued by that entry. I suffer from
depression, though it is not as bad as it was. I was put into therapy and given
medication after my mom found a journal entry that expressed my plans for
suicide. When not depressed, I am upbeat, friendly and comical. When I don't
know how to feel, depression is my default.
A.E., female, Ohio
I did, because I thought the world would hate me for being gay. I'm still not
sure how people will react, but I am no longer suicidal.
Jacob, 17, Minnesota
Tens of millions suffer from depression in the U.S. Prozac is one of the most
prescribed drugs. I've been on medication for decades. It's not an exact science
... but it's worth it when you find the right combination of meds. If you can't
afford certain meds, some drug companies have special programs for low-income
S., 50, female, St. Louis
Anyone can get depressed, but women are twice as likely to be diagnosed as
men, said Richard O'Connor, a psychotherapist and author of Undoing Depression.
Men are four times as likely to commit suicide, he said.
"Men tend not to mess around and choose lethal means, whereas women often
survive," said O'Connor, whose mother committed suicide.
Nearly 7 percent of Americans will experience a major depression in their
lifetime, but add in subtler forms and it can affect up to 25 percent, he said.
Often, O'Connor's patients don't complain of depression but of all the
problems in their lives - bad marriage, work stress, alcohol, etc. But
undiagnosed depression, which causes lethargy, a sense of hopelessness and more,
may have led to the troubles in the first place.
"Everybody has emotionally rough times, but people prone to depression have a
special reaction to tough news, and it starts a vicious circle," he said.
Medication can help, but therapy and reaching out to friends and loved ones
can offer more long-term solutions.
"I hear lots of sad stories from my post office clerk, for example," O'Connor
said. "She's always cheerful, but feels lonely and desperate inside. Lots of
people pass things off. It doesn't do your depression any good."
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
column comments to email@example.com. You can also hear his
podcasts or watch his