The sadness

OK so i’m on a roll with my BMJ RSS feed.

I find this aspect of medicine one of the most interesting and complicated boundaries of medicine and the emotional and the spiritual and the just plain old “life”.

I am completely unclear as to what to make of psychiatric illness in the context of the human experience. I have a few psychiatrist friends who i’m sure could make much more sense of all this.

I do sick people – and pretend that that just means abnormal physiology. I avoid psychiatry, leaving it as someone else’s problem, just as i do with many of the difficult ethical medical debates.


One guy puts it this way:

In truth, “depression” is a very difficult thing to define and any doctor who says that they can reliably differentiate it from sadness is deluding themselves.

Another takes issue and puts it this way:

Depression is not the same as ordinary unhappiness. It is a state unlike any other I have experienced. Ideas about being vulnerable neither made me ill nor ameliorated my distress: in truth like many twenty-year olds, before it hit me I had thought myself invulnerable. Defining suffering away does not diminish it. It insults it. Be wary what you mean when you say to patients, as Ginn does: you do not need anti-depressants, you’re a lot tougher than you think. It could be the cruellest form of paternalism yet.

Any thoughts?


2 Responses to “The sadness”

  1. 1 Ashley Craig July 3, 2009 at 12:22 am

    hey Andy: if you like Dave Bazan you should really check out Doug Burr on itunes, really cool stuff: start with Graniteville.
    How’s Craigavon? see you saw my mum a while back!
    where are you going next year?

  2. 2 Nelly And I July 3, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    hope your mum’s ok and i didn’t do anything too stupid!

    am in craigavon for ever and ever and ever. well i’ll be there all next year at least and go from there. what about yourself?

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