Is Depression Always a Disease?

Therese J. Borchard

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALike most mental health writers, I have compared depression to other illnesses like diabetes in the past, and stressed the biochemical aspect of mood disorders in my efforts at reducing stigma. Somehow talking about the gene G72/G30 located on chromosome 13q (that may predispose individuals to depression and bipolar disorder) makes it more legitimate, as if the gene proves we aren’t making it up. However, the more I read about how abuse, trauma, and chronic stress—unresolved issues of all kinds–can cause and aggravate depression, the less I want to compare it to diabetes.

Taking insulin really isn’t the same thing as taking an antidepressant.

It’s not that simple.

As I wrote about in my recent blog about SSRIs, the theory that depressed people suffer from a lack of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, which are replenished by antidepressants, sounds good, but isn’t totally accurate. SSRIs aren’t like insulin in that they…

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