Is depression a disease or a disorder? The jury is still out on that one as the debate in psychological circles continues to rage on. Although in the one camp, many psychologists believe depression is a physical illness, others remain unconvinced, despite the fact some research studies have indicated that the symptoms of depression can be linked to underlying biological factors.
However, whether you classify depression as a disease or a disorder, the fact remains that people suffering from depression are undeniably ill, which is why depression is classed as a mental health disorder. Depression can last for weeks, months, or even years, and unless the person receives help of one sort or another, the symptoms of depression can sometimes lead to a very unhappy ending.
Is depression a disease?
One of the big problems with classifying depression as a disease is that although it can cause all kinds of physical symptoms just as a disease would, there are many possible causes of depression.
Some people appear to have a genetic predisposition towards depression and statistics have proven that some forms of depressive illness, for example bipolar, do have a tendency to run in families. But depression can also be triggered by a number of other factors, including stress, emotional trauma, bereavement, substance abuse, and other mental health problems. So if depression can be caused by non-biological factors, it would suggest that depression is more of a disorder than a disease.
Is depression a curable disease?
Many diseases can be cured with medication and depression is no different—there are lots of different drugs available to help treat the symptoms of depression and the good news for depressive patients is that in most cases, the drugs really do work. Mood stabilising drugs and antidepressants can work wonders for patients suffering from the symptoms of depression and within a short time, the black clouds of depression slowly begin to dissipate and the person starts to feel a thousand times better.
The fact medicines are very effective in treating depression would suggest depression is a disease caused by changes in brain chemistry, but it could be argued that the drugs are only treating the physical symptoms rather than the disorder itself. Because of this, many experts believe that depression should be treated with psychotherapy as well as a pharmacological approach.
Is it better to classify depression as a disease?
Once depression is classed as a disease, it is all too easy for the patient to sit back and say “I’m ill” and wait for the medications to start working. Learning to successfully live with and conquer depression requires a more proactive approach, so referring to depression as a disorder rather than an illness is sometimes better from the patient’s perspective as it encourages them to take more responsibility for their own recovery.
If you do take the view that depression is an illness rather than a disorder, anyone suffering from depression could argue that they were not responsible for criminal acts they committed while depressed because they were ill at the time…