This article originally appeared on the Guardian Science Website on the 18th of August 2014 and is reproduced here with permission.
Anne Cooke, Angela Gilchrist and John McGowan
|Photo: Eva Rinaldi|
Most of the coverage has encouraged us to see his anguish as a symptom of a sickness as real and biologically based as measles or a broken leg. Just like those afflictions, we’re told, depression can strike anyone out of the blue. A piece by Guardian science blogger Dean Burnett offered a variation on this theme, asserting that depression is an illness and attacking any suggestion that suicidal acts might involve anything but desperation and a wish to escape. While we’re sure that the piece was written with the intention of defending someone in pain, we worry that it contains ways of thinking about mental health that oversimplify complex issues and can be unhelpful.