Robin Williams was one of many comics battling depression

August 12, 2014

Note: I usually avoid TEDtalks because they tend to be peppered with over-generalizations and oversimplifications presented as facts. [They also have the feel of a public confession with the inevitable “feel good” bonding.] In Breel’s talk, he makes two inaccurate statements:

1. “Real depression is being sad when everything in your life is going right.” That excludes every case in which a person is depressed because they have, or had, stress and trauma. A common reason a person can become depressed is when s/he feels little control over what happens to him or her or over their lives. Which is why a person may become depressed not just when faced with a major loss or severe abuse but also when promoted (with new responsibilities) or when experiencing success that draws a lot of public attention.

2. “Depression isn’t chicken pox. It’s not something you beat and it’s gone forever.” Not true. There are individuals who may be depressed just once or a few times and never again.

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Comics are peddlers of fun, truth and taboo, but more often than not, they’re an introspective bunch, too. They hawk their jokes in places with names such as the Laugh Factory or the Comedy Cellar — hardly the sort of venues where one goes to hear banter suited to a therapy session. And yet, for the past three years, the Laugh Factory has provided both: Once they’re done with a set, comedians can see an in-house psychologist.

Washington Post

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