Depression is personal to this physician

Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain. Two celebrity icons splashed the headlines recently as both figures committed the unthinkable act of suicide. Both left behind young daughters and significant others reeling in the background wondering what had just happened. Kate Spade was the colorful fashionista of purses and dresses. Anthony Bourdain was the connoisseur of delectable eats traveling the world. How could such successful personas mask the pain hidden within? Even Robin Williams, the funniest man on earth, couldn’t escape the depths of despair.

As a physician who treats depression regularly, I know depression is ugly, and it’s a disease of the mind. Symptoms of sadness, hopelessness, and fatigue typically accompany depression. It can be situational with a lost job, lost loved one or be more permanent and consume one’s being to the point that he or she cannot move on with life.

Depression, to me, is personal. I first met with depression way before I was trained as a fully fledged physician. I was a medical student at the time, and my brother fled grad school, unable to sleep and cope with its academic rigors and social hardships. He became lackadaisical with his studies and made trips to the ER for panic attacks. He went to psychologist after psychologist who tried to delve into our childhood and place blame on his upbringing. OK, what kind of insanity is that? Having been raised in the same environment, I, myself, never developed depression. Depression is not caused by someone. It just is.

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