Depression – A Disease or A Choice?

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When you hear the word depression, the first thing that strikes your mind is that it is a mental illness. That’s true. However, if you thought of depression as a disease, then there are doubts among mental health experts. Why? What’s the difference there anyway?

Well, let’s go through a brief explanation:

Some theorists disagree on the interchangeable use of ‘illness’ and ‘disease’. A disease is used strictly for a biological malfunction – an abnormal deviation from the normal functioning, while illness is a term used for an unhealthy feeling, with or without the presence of a disease.

So What’s the Issue Here?

The issue is the second thing you do, looking for a treatment. Most of the time, depression is dealt with the sense of a disease. Patients are given anti-depressants, that boost the serotonin level (a neurotransmitter related to mood, sleep, memory, and learning) in their body. However, for years now scientists have been disagreeing with this theory because there is no clear evidence. depression a diseases or a choice?

Many conducted experiments and observations show that while some depressed patients have low levels of serotonin, others have no difference compared to the normal population. What’s even more surprising is that some of these depressed patients have abnormally high levels of serotonin in them.

The theories are held on to not only because there is nothing else to take their place, but also because they are useful in promoting drug treatment. The perpetrators are, of course, feeding at the public trough.

— Dr. Elliott Valenstein Ph.D., author of Blaming the Brain

What should be the Treatment?

To answer this question, it’s important to know the nature of the problem, hence the nature of depression.

What Depression really is?

According to Dr. Gregg Henriques (professor of psychology at James Madison University), depression and anxiety are symptoms of a mental imbalance rather than diseases themselves.

As mentioned in his article “Anxiety and Depression Are Symptoms, Not Diseases:

Depression and anxiety are signs that one is not getting key needs met.

What are the key requirements for a human being?

Human beings are social animals that have reached the peak of social complexity. Apart from the basic survival need of air, water, and food, we crucially need a constant interaction with other people to sustain ourselves.

That is why we form families, friendships, acquaintances, and romantic relationships. These relationships are the key to a person’s mental health. When these relationships deteriorate, the brain generates depression as a sign that the person is on the verge of a mental breakdown.
causes of depression

Relationships with other people are not all there is to our mental stability.

Another key interaction is your relationship with yourself!

How you perceive yourself and what kind of opinions you have about your social, familial, individual, and occupational identity determine your outlook on life and your surroundings. If you feel good about yourself you’ll perceive everything positively, and if you have negative thoughts about your existence, then you’ll be targeted by depression.

This is the reason why during a psychological counseling session, psychologists start by questioning the patient’s relational values, and almost always, the reason for depression (or anxiety) emerges. To find and consult with the Best Psychologist in Karachi, Best Psychologists In LahoreBest Psychologists In Islamabad or other main cities of Pakistan visit

Possible Reasons for Depression:

As complex and diverse human relations are, depression can be caused by numerous reasons including:

  • death of a loved one
  • betrayal of a loved one
  • sabotaged familial, marital, and romantic relations, and friendships
  • physical and/or emotional abuse
  • society’s pressures like high grades in studies, a successful career, and a constant need to be perfect
  • fear of failure in literally everything
  • lack of self-esteem and self-motivation – bad views about oneself
  • lack of social interaction

Sometimes, depression is also caused by diseases like thyroid disorders and hormonal imbalance. can help you find the best endocrinologist in Karachi, Lahore or any other main city of Pakistan.

Almost all of the depressed people behave similar, including detachment from activities that were previously loved, loss of appetite, pessimism, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, either suffering from insomnia or sleeping a lot, self-loathing, and consistently avoiding social interactions that lead to isolation.

Given the present structure of our society, it’s heart-breaking to see that it doesn’t offer the motivational and social support a depressed person needs, rather it tries to treat depression with pills.

Depression isn’t some physical pain that can be treated with a pain-killer, it‘s a symptom of psychosocial needs and threats that can’t be stifled with drugs. What it really needs is acceptance by our family and friends, and that we have our own unique ways to contribute to the society. And it is crucial that we respect, trust, and have compassion for ourselves.

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Noorul Huda
She Attained a Masters in Zoology from the University of Punjab, She has been an active researcher and learner regarding today's health issues. One of her major interests lies in studying and discovering medical break-throughs and their application in the society. Also, she likes to share her interests via her writings to spread mass-awareness.

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