I was in the middle of writing this week’s blog post on the advantages and disadvantages of having a theory about human behavior when I received a breaking news story on my iPhone: Robin Williams was dead. “Oh, no,” I screamed in my mind. “That can’t be. I loved him.”
A few minutes later additional news came in: A representative for Williams told Entertainment Weekly, “Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late.” And then: According to a press release issued by the Marin County Coroner’s office, the Sheriff’s office suspects the death to be “suicide due to asphyxia.”
These news items hit me particularly hard because the meanings I gave them were: “Robin’s death was so unnecessary. Depression can be overcome. I know because I’ve done it. I wish I had had a chance to help him. I’ve got to help the millions of depressed people.”
Depression isn’t just feeling sad or upset
According to Wikipedia, depression … “is a mental disorder characterized by a pervasive and persistent low mood that is accompanied by low self-esteem and by a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities.”
In my personal experience and as described by a number of clients, depression is a mood characterized by a sense of hopelessness, helplessness, and despair. Unlike specific emotions that can come and go in a matter of moments or at most hours, depression can last days, weeks, months, or even years. And although the intensity of the mental pain can fluctuate from time to time, the depression is never far from consciousness and can return at the least provocation. Sadness is like “depression light.”
The extent of depression
Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. In 2012, an estimated 16 million U.S. adults had at least one major depressive episode, or bout of depressive symptoms, in the past year. We often get upset when we hear about the suffering of one person. This cold NIMH statistic represents 16 million real people suffering excruciating mental anguish
Why does depression lead to suicide?
More people now die of suicide than in car accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2010 there were 33,687 deaths from motor vehicle crashes and 38,364 suicides.
Why does depression lead to so much suicide? Because the mental anguish is so great and the possibility of it ever stopping feels so remote. Earlier in my life I thought of suicide many times and actually took a bunch of pills once. Luckily I quickly called a friend who called 911, which took me to a hospital where I had my stomach pumped—a very unpleasant experience. But having a tube put down my throat was nowhere near as bad as the mental pain I had felt day after day that had led me to want to end my life.
The source of depression
Depression has been attributed to genes, childhood experiences, one’s biology, brain structure, and combinations of these factors. But many experts agree that depression is often stimulated by external stressors. Wikipedia points out that “In adulthood, stressful life events are strongly associated with the onset of major depressive episodes. In this context, life events connected to social rejection appear to be particularly related to depression. Evidence that a first episode of depression is more likely to be immediately preceded by stressful life events ….”
My readers know that I contend that, because events have no inherent meaning, there is no such thing as stressful events, or “stressors.” Stress is the result of the meaning we give events, not events themselves.
Most behavioral and emotional problems are the result primarily of beliefs; stimulus conditioning is also usually a major cause. Depression seems to be caused by more beliefs that most other problems and there also is a lot more sense conditioning. Sense conditioning is where one has conditioned a negative sense of self, or people, and/or life, which remains after all the relevant beliefs have been unlearned.
For example, a depressed person might describe his sense of self as: dark, heavy, overwhelming, powerless, can’t escape, a dark hole, worthless, what am I doing here, rejected, disconnected to others, vulnerable, fragile, and don’t care. This “feeling sense” remains after all the relevant beliefs have been unlearned, but can be totally eliminated using the Lefkoe Sense Process.
The mental suffering can be stopped
My personal and professional experience makes it clear that as painful and debilitating as depression is, it can be cured. The processes that make up The Lefkoe Method can help you unlearn the negative beliefs and de-condition the negative senses. It helped me totally eliminate my depression, which I have not experienced in many years.
According to Wikipedia, “The most-studied form of psychotherapy for depression is CBT [cognitive behavioral therapy], which teaches clients to challenge self-defeating, but enduring ways of thinking (cognitions) and change counter-productive behaviors. Research beginning in the mid-1990s suggested that CBT could perform as well or better than antidepressants in patients with moderate to severe depression.”
As I watched TV stories about Robin’s incredible career and his senseless death, I found myself thinking: “A half million self-inflicted deaths a year in the U.S. due to depression. I’ve got to find a way to let people know that being depressed is not something to be ashamed of and to hide. Depression is not necessary; it can be cured and in a relatively short period of time.”
Most depressed people don’t reach out for help. They are embarrassed by their condition. If you are depressed or have a friend, colleague, or loved one who is depressed, the first thing to do is acknowledge the extreme level of emotional pain they must be feeling. Second, don’t try to talk yourself or them out of the depression. That doesn’t work. Logic or evidence will not penetrate the emotional suffering. The best thing you can do it make real for yourself or for others that there is solution: that depression can be ended.
Let’s have Robin’s untimely death be his final contribution to people’s well-being by being the stimulus to get all of us to make sure depressed people get the help they need. I am committed to ending their mental anguish. Please join me.
A NOTE TO MY READERS:
I’m sorry that I missed posting on this blog last week. My father-in-law—Shelly’s father—passed away last weekend and we flew to Florida immediately for the funeral and to be with family for the week. I didn’t get much work done last week.
Thanks for reading my blog. Please post your questions or comments about depression and Robin William’s suicide. Disagreement is as welcome as agreement. Your comments add value for thousands of readers. I love to read them all and I will respond to as many as I can.
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If you haven’t yet eliminated at least one of your limiting self-esteem beliefs using the Lefkoe Belief Process, go to our belief-unlearning program where you can eliminate several limiting beliefs free.
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Copyright © 2014 Morty Lefkoe