Depression and diabetes

There’s a new hashtag on the block #StigmaFighter. It’s a good idea. We should all be stigma fighters. One of its campaigns uses the following:

Depression is a serious illness, just like diabetes or heart disease. Expecting positive thinking to cure depression is like expecting a person with diabetes to lower their blood sugar levels by thinking happy thoughts.


Well, the sentiment is good. Depression is serious. And, it is difficult to treat. There is an important point to be made. However, after decades of self-help books and allusions to the power of positive thinking, battling against other diseases with the power of our minds etc, is it actually any surprise that people might assume that someone with depression could be treated by suggesting positive thinking? The whole “chin up, old chap” approach…

It’s not like trying to treat diabetes by suggesting that the patient think happy thoughts. It’s more like treating the disease by telling the patient not to think about cakes and sweets when their blood sugar is too high and conversely to think about cakes and sweets more when it is too low.

Whereas diabetes is all about the chemistry of pancreatic activity and insulin, depression in contrast is a mental illness, there is a psychological component, even if the underyling chemistry is that of the brain and its neutrotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine.

Of course, the “chin up” technique doesn’t work, nor does “stiff upper lip” self-therapy. But, the point is that it’s really no surprise that people, including general practitioners, think it might…

Author: bob投注平台

Award-winning freelance science writer, author of Deceived Wisdom. Sharp-shooting photographer and wannabe rockstar.