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DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows
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Watching: DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows

Chapter 6: Common Depression [6:50]

Terrie describes the denial of depression among African- Americans, while Philip sees the stigma in the corporate world.

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Transcript: Chapter 6 - Common Depression

NARRATION: (TERRIE WILLIAMS IN OFFICE) Terrie Williams started out as a social worker and

NARRATION: (PHOTOS WITH EDDIE MURPHY AND MILES DAVIS) Later became public relations agent to some of Hollywood's top celebrities, including Eddie Murphy and Miles Davis.

A few years after launching her public relations business, Terrie's energy and drive began to fade. She was suffering from a mild but chronic form of depression called dsythymia.

TERRIE WILLIAMS: (OC) Here you are landing another major name, and you really just don't feel it anymore. And it was having to pretend that I was excited about signing them, and I really wasn't. Because I was really-- "I was dying inside."

NARRATION: (TERRIE WILLIAMS AT RESPECT EVENT) dysthymia afflicts millions of Americans and often goes unrecognized, as was the case for Terrie.

DR. CHARLES NEMEROFF: (VO, TERRIE WILLIAMS AT RESPECT EVENT) Oftentimes when we talk about depression, we're talking about very severe depression, I've had patients say to me, "I'm so depressed I can't answer the phone because the phone, seems like it weighs 100 pounds." On the other end of the extreme,

DR. CHARLES NEMEROFF: (OC) but still pathological, is a low-grade smoldering bad depression. It's not so severe that you can't work or go to school. But it's there.

NARRATION: (TERRIE WILLIAMS AT RESPECT EVENT)An estimated ten to fifteen million Americans live with dysythmia, a condition that is characterized by symptoms that persist for two years or more.

Terrie's symptoms included fatigue, trouble concentrating and compulsive overeating.

TERRIE WILLIAMS: (VO, TERRIE WILLIAMS AT RESPECT EVENT) I would come home, eat junk food, all times of the night. At some point, the food wasn't enough and I would just weep. And it was-- it was frightening to me

TERRIE WILLIAMS: (OC) because during those moments, I just felt that this was the end of the world and I was having what I understood to be a nervous breakdown

NARRATION: (PHOTO OF TERRIE WILLIAMS) Terrie sought professional help, which included medication and talk therapy.

TERRIE WILLIAMS: (VO, PHOTO OF TERRIE WILLIAMS) There's power in naming it. Do you know? I remember when my when my psychiatrist said to me, "You are clinically depressed." I almost felt like

TERRIE WILLIAMS: (OC) something inside of me jumped up. It's, like [sigh], thank you. You put a name to this and it's something that's treatable.

NARRATION: (TERRIE WILLIAMS AT RESPECT EVENT) For thirty years, Terrie lived with the symptoms of depression, but never fully realized the seriousness of her illness.

Terrie believes stigma, which she sees as pervasive in the African American community, played a role in the denial of her condition.

TERRIE WILLIAMS: (VO, TERRIE WILLIAMS AT RESPECT EVENT) Many of us would rather tell somebody that we have

TERRIE WILLIAMS: (OC) a relative in jail or on drugs before we will ever utter mental illness.

NARRATION: (TERRIE WILLIAMS AT RESPECT EVENT) Terrie believes that persistent racism contributes to feelings of hopelessness among African Americans.

TERRIE WILLIAMS: (VO, TERRIE WILLIAMS AT RESPECT EVENT) You get used to, feeling bad that you think that that's how you are supposed to feel, that you are supposed to

TERRIE WILLIAMS: (OC) carry the world on your shoulders and not complain. That's how so many black men and women have come to feel.

NARRATION: (PHILIP BURGUIERES IN ELEVATOR) Philip Burguieres can relate to Terrie's experience. He too soldiered through low grade depression, and fell prey to its stigma, which he believes is acute among corporate executives.

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (VO, PHILIP BURGUIERES IN ELEVATOR) I am in the sixth month of my tenure as CEO of a Fortune 100 company. My mind seems to have taken on a life of its own, distant from my physical body. But the effects on my body are evident.

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (VO, PHILIP BURGUIERES AT DESK) I have sleepless nights, and the smallest of things agitate me. I want out, but I am stuck, because I have never quit anything in my life.

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (VO, PHILIP BURGUIERES AT DESK) I functioned with low level depression for a couple years and, uh--

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (OC) and functioned pretty well. You know? There's a term called fake it till you make it. You know, I kind of faked it for a long period of time.

NARRATION: (PHOTOS OF PHILIP BURGUIERES) Once the youngest CEO of a fortune 500 company, Philip twice took million dollar companies and turned them into multi-billion dollar enterprises.

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (VO, PHOTOS OF PHILIP BURGUIERES) "When I ran Cameron Iron Works, I had a mistress."

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (OC) And I would actually sneak out on Sunday mornings and-- and tell my wife, I'm-- "I gotta run to the grocery store." And I'd go to work for two hours. And so my mistress that I would sneak out to was my work.

NARRATION: (SILHOUETTE OF PHILIP BURGUIERES IN WINDOWS) For sixteen long years, Philip buried himself in his work, ignoring his symptoms, until he collapsed in his office from a severe panic attack.

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (VO, PHILIP BURGUIERES LOOKING OUT OF STADIUM WINDOWS) Literally almost overnight, it was, "I can't handle it anymore." It was a

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (OC) grade-A, level ten depression, I mean, like an atomic bomb went off. And-- And that's when I, you know, guess had the-- the sense to check myself into a mental institution 'cause I could no longer handle it.

NARRATION: (NEWSPAPER ARTICLE) The Wall Street Journal and Houston Chronicle cited stress related reasons for his abrupt departure. The public humiliation he felt and his company's plummeting stock only added to his distress.

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (VO, NEWSPAPER ARTICLE) I was 100% convinced

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (OC) that my wife and my two children would be better off without me.

NARRATION: (PHOTO OF PHILIP BURGUIERES) Safe in a hospital, he met another patient who encouraged him to speak out.

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (VO, PHOTO OF PHILIP BURGUIERES) She looked me right in the eye. And she said, "Philip,

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (OC) I'm not gonna make it." She said, "But you are." And she said, "I want you to promise me something. When you make it, I want you to promise me that you'll tell your story, because you can help other people."

NARRATION: (PHILIP BURGUIERES ON PHONE) Philip took his story public in Houston before a group of business leaders. This action inspired executives the world over to seek his advice about their own battles with depression.

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (OC, PHILIP BURGUIERES ON PHONE) "Five different medication, you could almost go down the list. Every one of them caused my anxiety level to go through the roof, so I was..."

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (VO, PHILIP BURGUIERES ON PHONE) My experience in uh, people that I work with, uh, executive level, et cetera,

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (OC) it's about 50% will some time during their career suffer from a serious clinical depression.

NARRATION: (VO, PHILIP BURGUIERES ON PHONE) The consequences of untreated depression can be severe. Every year, there are approximately 650,000 reported suicide attempts in America, as Philip knows only too well.

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (VO, PHILIP BURGUIERES ON PHONE)I got a call from a gentleman here in Houston, worked for one of the biggest companies in the world,

PHILIP BURGUIERES: (OC) he had loaded a gun and put it to his head and cocked it. And, uh, he called it(?)-- called me the next day. And of course I did everything I could to get him in a hospital that afternoon, which I did.

NARRATION: (PHILIP BURGUIERES ON PHONE) In an odd twist of fate, Philip would discover that the act of encouraging others to seek treatment would later help him in his own recovery.

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