If I could describe depression, I'd say it feels like you're in a well and there's a rope that you can't quite reach, and when you look up at the other end of that rope, the person holding it is you. If you think you're suffering then hand yourself the rope, anti-depressants and depression are nothing to be ashamed of, just like any other illness you can get better.
There is no doubt that medications can sometimes be beneficial, particularly if they are used sparingly and temporarily. But it is scandalous that hundreds of millions of human beings around the world are suffering addiction and adverse reactions to powerful psychotropic drugs which give them no benefit.
'Depression' is such an umbrella term, one word encompassing a multiplicity of experiences from the deep sadness that follows, say, a relationship break-up, to years spent semi-catatonic, hardly able to get out of bed. It's a problem, I think, because the breadth and vagueness of the word can often make being depressed, in whatever sense, even harder and more lonely.
The key to feeling better is to get to the root of the problem and do what you can to turn these negative feelings around. Despite the therapy and medications, people still continue to suffer. And there's a good reason why... actually there are eight good reasons. Sometimes the cause behind anxiety and depression isn't mental at all! It's physical.
It's such a shame that it takes the death of a hugely famous actor/comedian to get the conversation happening to such a level. However, if we must find a positive from this tragic tale, the exposure of his struggles may leave some people with a greater understanding of the illness, and those who are masking their troubles may be encouraged to talk.
If you have to take anti-depressant medication I would urge caution as to what you take. Get the very best advice you can find before committing to anything. Realise that they are not a quick fix - it will take time and they should be used in conjunction with other therapies. Above all else, try to look at them as only a plaster cast that will help the 'break' in your mind to heal and be removed when it is.
When it comes to contemplating the legitimacy of mental illness, it is the 'mental' aspect of the term that I think really throws people for a loop, with its entailment of a complex interface between biological and psychosocial factors. Thomas Szasz may have been right to propose that 'brain disease' would make a more appropriate, and less misleading term.
Unlike a lot of people in today's society, I will happily admit to taking anti-depressants. A mental illness is just that - an illness, which needs treating. If I had a physical ailment I wouldn't think twice about taking the medication, so I don't understand why there is such a taboo on medication for mental illnesses.
Winston Churchill called it the 'Black Dog'. Every year, thousands of people in Britain die because of it. One in three people will suffer from it at some point in their life. Why, then, are we so afraid to talk about depression? The problem is particularly striking amongst my own demographic, young men under the age of thirty.