Is Grief Always Depression?

At Pajamas Media Dalrymple makes an argument he has made before:

The word “unhappy” has been virtually abolished from the English language. For every person who says “I’m unhappy” there must now be a thousand who say “I’m depressed.” The change in semantics is important: the person who says he is unhappy knows that there is something wrong with his life that he should try to alter if he can; whereas the person who says “I’m depressed” is ill, and it is therefore the responsibility of someone else — the doctor — to make him better.

But this repetition is clearly necessary, given that even the American Psychiatric Association doesn’t get the distinction:
An editorial in the May 17 New England Journal of Medicine by a psychiatrist at Cornell points out that the new Diagnostic and Statistician Manual of the American Psychiatric Association proposes that people who are grieving after the death of a loved one should quickly be diagnosed as suffering from depression.
Has no one in the APA read Hamlet? Can no one there recall his first soliloquy?
… and yet with a month –
Let me not think on’t — Frailty, thy name is woman! –
A little month; or ere those shoes were cold
With which she followed my poor father’s body
Like Niobe, all tears; why she, even she –
O God! A beast that wants discourse of reason
Would have mourned longer …
Frailty, thy name is doctor!
Psychiatrists, after all, spend their lives observing people: it obviously takes years of study, training, thought, discussion, reading, and reflection to know so little about them. 

One thought on “Is Grief Always Depression?

  1. Louise

    Yes, that’s right, blame it all on the American Psychiatric Association. How very ‘self exculpatory’ of you, Doctor.

    Or as Thomas Szazs would probably say “Doctor”.

    And they would have had Hamlet committed and forcibly medicated.

    And so would you “Doctor”.


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