When I first started writing my book – this ‘depression’ one, I mean – a few years ago, I started out knowing just how naïve it would be to expect that everyone on the planet who suffers depression would actually want to do anything about changing it. After all, in my clinical work, I had seen countless people who came to therapy thinking that depression was something they could not do anything about (only to discover that they most certainly could).
So, why did I title this book, Beat Depression the Drug Free Way? Does that not imply that I say it can be beaten and ended? That there’s a cure for depression? Well, yes, it implies that, but the extended, unworkable version of the title would be unpublishable. It would be “Beat the Locked-in Emotional State of Your Belief Systems by Understanding the Role that External Information Plays in Making You Construct a Set Habitual Skill of Allowing Natural-occurring Depressed Mood States to Take Over Your Life – No Drugs Necessary.” If you’ve been a past reader of this post, you can see what I mean by that.
You’ve probably already firmly got that I say that depression and ‘being depressed’ is a natural state of being in life. I’ve had plenty to say about how it is essential and useful to allow ourselves to be depressed or sad or grieving about certain circumstances in our lives that warrant those natural reactions. So, let’s address the oft-heard cry of “but my depression is not a naturally experienced depression: it’s gone further than that. I now have developed the disease of depression and it has taken over my life!”
In a future post, I’ll devote a whole post to address the first part of such a comment in terms of the “disease” aspect. Enough to say here that in medical or psychological terms, a ‘disease’ is defined only in strict biological marker terms – that is, that there exists some physical or biological cause that results in cellular and-or tissue damage or maladaption. Mood states and mental-emotional states are unable to do that.
Recently I was made aware of something rather alarming, but I couldn’t think of any way to use the information. In Australia, the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is used by every clinician (almost) to diagnose what our culture are calling diseases and disorders. The DSM, although a couch-side assistant manual that is constructed out of opinion and ‘vote’, seems to be divine instruction for doctors, psychiatrists and a host of other people here.
But what if the public discovered that the DSM is not legal here in Australia? The correct and legal classification source here is the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases version 10.
OK, so why is this significant?
On examining the DSM, it clearly states that Depression (and a lot of other problems) is a categorized disorder. The difference between this and the WHO ICD may appear small and subtle, but to me, it is significant. While the DSM categorizes depression as a disorder and leads readers to assume that it’s a disease – an illness, the ICD categorization calls the same ‘problem’ “Depressive Episode” and “Recurrent Depressive Disorder.” The saving grace is in the words, “episode” which quite correctly implies that depression ‘comes and goes” as a natural variant experience, and “Recurrent”, a word that signifies that episodes of depression have become an “iterative development” – in other words automatically and unconsciously repeated until the “episode” becomes the “attributional style” of experience.
Unfortunately, we’ll never see the WHO ICD be as popular as the disease-mongering DSM. The professions would not allow that to happen because the DSM is a goose that continually lays golden eggs. The public as a whole would not allow that to happen because it would mean that a greater degree of self-awareness and awareness of cultural systems is necessary and responsibility must be taken for mood states.
But if the ICD did become more widely recognized, we could shuffle a little closer to my fantasy book title I stated earlier: – “Beat the Locked-in Emotional State of Your Belief Systems by Understanding the Role that External Information Plays in Making You Construct a Set Habitual Skill of Allowing Natural-occurring Depressed Mood States to Take Over Your Life – No Drugs Necessary.”