Watching: TAKE ONE STEP: Caring for Depression, with Jane Pauley
Chapter 4: Getting Support [6:00]
Support groups can help those with depression, and raise public awareness. Often, symptoms in elders go untreated.
Transcript: Chapter 4 - Getting Support
JANE PAULEY: We've talked about the idea of helping others and sharing and being public. I would like to caution, however, that someone who has depression can't get over themselves, any more than someone with cancer, you know, can--- "Well, now that you know it's cancer, get over it."
DR. DENNIS CHARNEY: That's true. We don't want to trivialize depression. It's very serious. We never want to do that. And we don't want our support groups to do that. The support groups are designed to educate and support, so you put the illness in its context. For example, you know, a few weeks ago, I went to a support group for women with breast cancer. And there's no doubt that breast cancer is a medical disease. But the help that the women got from other women, by being, you know, with women who are survivors, who are fighting breast cancer, was enormous. You know? It helped their spirits. So we can do the same thing for patients with depression.
DR. KEN DUCKWORTH: This is the tuna casserole problem. People who have psychiatric illnesses don't get tuna casseroles and flowers. They don't. And this is why we still know we have work to do to make these conditions, which are just as legitimate and cause just as much, if not more suffering, on the same basis, on a par with the other processes. And so that's when we'll know, is when you go to a support group and people are loving each other and giving things to each other and providing all sorts of support to each other, and it's happening across the board and it's difficult to get into the room, that you have to fight to join their walk, that if you don't get your bicycle pass in on time, you can't participate. We have work to do. Because we're still not at that point yet where people are competing to participate in the different support groups. And that's just a sign that we have work to do.
JANE PAULEY: I think we're really close. I do.
DR. KEN DUCKWORTH: We're going in the right direction.
JANE PAULEY: You make, remind me of something else. Depression is also associated-- There's relationship between other disease, heart disease diabetes, osteoporosis, so that someone who has depression and it isn't being treated, has got more than one problem [simultaneous conversation]--
DR. DENNIS CHARNEY: Yeah, and that gets back to the the idea, the fact that depression is a medical disease. It turns out that the biology of depression relates to the biology of these other medical conditions. So, for example, if you have a heart attack and you're depressed, your chances of dying from heart disease are several-fold higher, because the biology of depression makes the biology of heart disease worse.
JANE PAULEY: You know, older people can be written off. You know, if you'd had a cancer diagnosis, you'd be depressed, too. Or, you know, it might be Alzheimer's. But depression can be treatable in older people, too, that they might have to suffer old age, but they don't need to be depressed, too. And I regret that my father probably had---there was room for more joy in his life than we knew.
DR. ANNELLE PRIMM: There's an unfortunate stereotype that, you know, older people being at the end of their life, that they should feel depressed. But that's certainly not the case. And, you know, many older people enjoy joyous lives. So we need to be very cognizant of the fact that depression can occur in that timeframe, and treat it. In fact, older people are some of the underserved that often don't get their mental health needs recognized.
JANE PAULEY: Well, 'cause a lot of them are thinkin', like you said earlier in our conversation. Older people are the ones who are real likely to want to just tough it out.
DR. KEN DUCKWORTH: But the elderly are also at the highest risk of suicide. And it's just very important to recognize that there is a series of losses that happen with aging that are tragic and all too human. And if you get a clinical syndrome, if you can have the strength or courage to get help for it, you may avoid becoming a tragedy, you know, in your own family system.
JANE PAULEY: And then you can go out and save your friends.
DR. KEN DUCKWORTH: That's right.
JANE PAULEY: That's right. That's all the time we have. For more information you'll find it at PBS dot org. and links to our outreach partners, NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the YMCA of the U.S.A.
Depression is a painful and complicated disease. But it is a disease and it can be treated. So please find the help you need and take one step to care for depression. Thank you all.
Have a good night.