With the passing of Robin Williams this week and the pronouncement that he was battling severe depression, many people have been talking out the stigma that is often associated with depression and anxiety.
It is so sad that there is still a certain “perception” regarding cognitive and mental issues that causes people to withdraw instead of reach out. These are scientifically-diagnosed conditions caused by brain chemical imbalances. So why, in a world where other stigmas have been so triumphantly challenged and overcome, are these conditions still viewed so differently from other diseases with the same underlying cause? What is the difference between a brain chemical imbalance that causes seizures or one that causes depression?
I have been personally affected by postpartum depression and know others who have battled depression and anxiety. These disorders can be so debilitating that it makes it difficult for people to function and even get out of bed. Thankfully not all people who battle depression are suicidal. What may be less understood, however, and perhaps in the case of Robin is that people with depression can’t just “snap out of it” or that thoughts of suicide are rational decisions. While diseases like these and many others are difficult to understand at times, it is for this very reason that we could all benefit from more interest and understanding.
My hope is that someday we can accept these diseases for the medical conditions that they are and reject the people that continue to further ignorant stigmas, for they are the ones that are truly irrational.