When depression is not depression – Diagnosis or misdiagnosis of mental illnesses
Depression is one of the fastest growing mental illnesses in the world today and amongst the most expensive medical conditions and within the next 20 years, more people will be impacted by depression than any other health problem.
So what is depression? While it is often seen as ‘mental illness’, clinical depression is often accompanied by many physical symptoms and even disease. The symptoms of depression include:-
• Feeling sad. • Feeling exhausted and fatigued. • Inability to complete even small tasks. • Feeling minor to severe anxiety. • Feeling isolated and isolating oneself. • Confusion and lack of mental clarity. • Feelings of inadequacy. • Suicidal • Pessimistic unable to see a future. • Hopelessness • Irritable or angry. • Lack of sleep. • Self-absorbed and ruminating • Feel victimised • Physical aches, pains and rashes.
Traditional biomedical diagnosis is based on the mind body separation and considers the symptoms as the illness “depression”, and thus provide treatment for “depression”. Therefore depression is effectively a label given to a set of symptoms and not actually addressing the cause of the symptoms.
In contrast, diagnosis based on the mind-body connection and recognising that the mind, in particular the ego-complex, as the root cause which give rise to psychological symptoms, which then manifest as physical symptoms. In this approach all these symptoms can be classified as “suffering”, mental and emotional states which are experienced as uncomfortable and unpleasant.
So what is the root cause of these symptoms? When we feel threatened, the body activates its flight-fright or stress response system. Feeling threatened physically or psychologically motivates the need to change the situation, either by running away or fighting. The nature of suffering is the need for things to be different than they are. Suffering is experienced when we feel threatened either physically or psychologically. These symptoms are all associated with a particular type of mental state which is one of unpleasantness and discomfort, in contrast to comfort and pleasantness. The root cause is aversion, wanting things to be different than they are, a non-acceptable of present circumstances.
Consider what happens when we experience any form of threat. The body’s flight fight