Misunderstood Epidemic: Depression

Video made available by Ironzeal

This video is a short preview of one of the best films on depression I’ve seen. Broadcast originally on PBS last fall, The Misunderstood Epidemic is being shown again on a varying schedule around the country. If you miss it, you can get a copy of the DVD at a reasonable price.

In one well-edited hour, the film presents the stories of a dozen people afflicted with this illness – men, women, couples, children, teenagers. It’s a remarkably complete portrait of the intensity of symptoms and the life crises depression causes. A parent describes the painful experience of learning to take her daughter’s depression seriously and intervening in her suicide attempt. A couple tells of the impact of their depressed daughter’s suicide. A young boy of 9 or 10 speaks about his illness like a man of thirty. A woman describes how she nearly wrecked her marriage in a fantasy of escape to a new life she was convinced would end her depression.

There is also a good discussion of the use of medication from several points of view, by a woman whose daily meds cover a multi-column page to a man who rejects taking any form of drug. Some accept the biological model, others reject it. Each person in the film has achieved recovery in his or her own way, and no editorial point of view intrudes on their stories.

Susan Polis Schutz, director of the film, has told her own story about depression at this Huffington Post article and in her book, Depression and Back: A Poetic Journey Through Depression and Recovery.

Watching the film is a powerful and difficult experience for those of us who’ve lived with depression. Hopefully it will help change the attitudes of many who continue to dismiss the illness as a weakness of character.

2 Responses to “Misunderstood Epidemic: Depression”

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  1. Jane Chin says:

    I found myself doing what the mom described – I was nodding when I listened to what the patients said about depression – I knew exactly what they meant and I had experienced what they’d experienced. It was as if living in that suffocating darkness was a natural part of life and until I sought help, I didn’t know any differently. I am grateful that I got help and got better… but forever since, I keep one eye open for any signs of it returning.

    • john says:

      Hi, Jane –

      It’s great to hear from you. That film hit home for me in the same way. It was hard to stay dry-eyed through much of it, and I’m so glad to have broken out of that darkness. It seems impossible that I could go back there again – but you never know, so like you I keep checking up on myself.

      I hope all is well.


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