Depression is No Laughing Matter

robin-williams-Peggy-Sirota-Characters-on-the-Couch

photo credit: Peggy Sirota

AUGUST 11 — I was shocked and saddened to hear of Robin Williams’ untimely death and tragic suicide. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones in this time of excruciating loss. The rest of us, who loved him in our own ways, have lost a brilliant talent, a comedic master, and a deeply moving dramatic actor whose roles in Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting, Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poet’s Society and one of my personal favorites for sentimental reasons – Flubber – will live on and never be forgotten. Right now, though, it’s hard to get farther than feeling terrible sadness that this man who made us laugh was suffering enough to take his life.

Suicide is one of the most difficult deaths to deal with. It leaves those left behind with questions that will never be answered.  Why?  What did I miss? Was there anything I could have done? Sometimes there’s not – if someone can’t let those closest know he desperately needs help.

Yet, serious depression is treatable. If you are depressed, it’s important to remember that. It’s especially important not to allow a hopeless voice in your mind to take you over. That voice might tell you many things. Like – “There’s no way out. These feelings will never change. You’re weak if you need help and can’t get out of this on your own. There’s no one who can help you or understand you.  See – you’ve already tried.  You’ve failed.”

This voice can drum up many convincing reasons that your depression will never end. Take it from me, though – a certified psychoanalyst who has treated many cases of deep depression: that voice is wrong. Turn to a loved one and tell them what you feel. That’s not weakness. That’s human. Ask them to help you find a professional who treats depression. Choose talk therapy in addition to any medication that might be prescribed. If you’ve been in therapy already and that therapy failed to help you, keep trying. Interview different therapists. Don’t stop until you find one who says things you haven’t thought of before – someone who can get to the root of your depression. Most of all, remember:  that hopeless voice is not the voice of truth.

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