Dear Readers: A great many of you wrote to say that I suggested that yoga and diet can cure depression. In no way, shape or form do I believe that. Depression is a disease like any other and requires medical attention, love and support. I suggested medical counseling in a previous column, but I wish I had been clearer in stating my belief that seeing a doctor for depression is absolutely essential. Here is a sampling of the feedback:
Dear Annie: I am writing to comment on the letter from "Blessed and Happy Woman," who lectured us all in an extremely superior manner about how she overcame depression with yoga and dietary changes and some other claptrap. Sounds to me like she was less depressed and more sad.
She needs to understand that chemical depression is a very real and harmful thing that cannot be overcome by eating broccoli and doing your platitudes about how amazing you are in the mirror every morning. In fact, treatment for actual major depressive disorder has about a 65% effective rate, and the remaining 35% just suffer through life until their depression kills them by suicide or disease brought on by the stress and anxiety of depression.
Please inform your readers that to implement the "cures" that Blessed and Happy Woman suggested for people actually suffering from depression will end in misery and disaster. I suggest Blessed and Happy Woman study depression and its effects on individuals and families, and perhaps turn her smug condescension into learning how to shut up and listen and understand the perspectives of other people. It's not all about her. -- Educated and Fuming
Dear Annie: As one who has suffered from clinical depression my whole life, I feel your response was lacking. What "Blessed" is describing is not much different from the advice of some well-intentioned but mistaken folks that all depressed ones can pull themselves up by their bootstraps. There are different kinds of depression and depressive episodes.
Blessed seems to have entered into her depressed state after her divorce. I applaud her for doing everything she could to help her own mental state. However, for the clinically depressed and those with mood disorders, their depression was not caused by a life event. This depression is not one that goes away with a simple improvement in personal habits.
The necessary treatment for one suffering from clinical depression is many times psychological counseling along with antidepressant medications, along with many of the "tips" those trying to be helpful offer. Even with all this, it is still a struggle.
I am sad that your response missed the chance to clear this up for those with the mindset of "Blessed." The clinically depressed deserve the dignity of understanding. -- Misunderstood by Many
Dear Misunderstood: Thank you for your honest and kind email. I hope it helps others who are suffering.