Cancer and Depression are different…


Recently a very articulate blogger/author/speaker wrote an article about depression. I assume it was written mostly because of the Robin Williams suicide. You can find it here.  The post start with the phrase

Dear Church, Cancer can be deadly and so can depression…

This phrase stuck with me for several reasons. I work weekly with people who suffer with depression and I have a 3 year old daughter currently in remission from Leukemia. I thought this woman who is gifted with words could have or should have chosen a different analogy. Really?? Comparing cancer and depression?

I don’t disagree with the idea that depression is a serious issue, but depression is deadly because it leads to a choice. This choice, suicide, is a choice that is often made when there seems to be no other options. Depression tends to be a psychological condition that is often times helped with psychotropic medication and talk therapy. Depression is an illness, but not necessarily a disease. While there is some debate on that topic, I view a disease as something that will be with you for life. You can heal from depression as I have seen and heard numerous times in my practice.

Let’s juxtapose that with cancer.

Cancer can become deadly regardless of choice. If one dies from cancer there usually were desperate attempts of all kinds to not have the outcome of death. Families and individuals suffer despite choices made to help someone survive cancer. Using chemotherapy may or may not heal one of cancer. A body goes through traumatic injury when being treated with chemo or radiation.

Finally, depression can come from having cancer, but you can’t get cancer from being depressed. They are two totally different things that should never be attached as one being like the other.

I understand in writing you want to grab the reader’s attention and one does that by comparing horrific things. While this author may have experienced depression in her life I would question whether she has experienced cancer in her life as directly as I have. I don’t know her, but I imagine if she had almost lost a daughter to cancer and had no choice or power in the matter she maybe would choose a different analogy.

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