Fear of the Unknown; Epilepsy, TB, and now Depression.
We human beings have always been afraid of illnesses we did not understand, and were therefore afraid would affect us, particularly if we regarded the illness as incurable.
In ancient Roman times, epilepsy and its associated convulsions were regarded as evidence that gods were intervening directly in the life of the affected individual. We now know that epilepsy is a condition of electrical instability within the electrical circuits of our brain, and we have multiple effective medications which can control the electric pathways appropriately. Accordingly, the vast majority of the population is no longer afraid of an individual who has epilepsy, although a minority of people still react on the basis of rumours handed down through the generations, and remain afraid.
TB (Tuberculosis) was an infectious disease that caused serious health problems and death in many countries of the world. People with TB were avoided, and indeed members of their family were sometimes avoided also. Matters even got to the stage where children and grandchildren of people who had been affected by TB were avoided, as people were afraid of this potentially serious illness. Following the discovery and use of appropriate antibiotics, TB has been eradicated almost totally from the developed countries of the world. However, in rural areas of many countries, and among elderly people in many countries, the myth of the need to avoid people and families with a history of TB continues, for no logical reason.
The current prevalent disease that frightens many people is depression. It is indeed frightening to think that the most individual part of ourselves, namely our individual brain, can be affected by a condition which creeps up on our thinking and feelings, despite the best efforts of our logic and despite our own healthy philosophy of life. However, just as we all have a breaking point at which our brains can be pushed into having an epileptic convulsion, so we all have a breaking point at which we could in theory be pushed into depressive illness. Happily, for the majority of the population, this breaking point is not reached. However, for 10 – 20% at least of the population who will be affected by depression, the stresses of life do manage to trigger off this illness.
It is indeed frightening for the sufferer, and for those around them, to watch as depressive illness converts a previously well-functioning individual into someone who functions much less well, and yet who still looks normal on the outside. It is indeed hard to be one of “the walking wounded”, who happens to be carrying severe injuries internally as a result of the battles of everyday life.
However, there is really no need to be frightened of depressive illness. We know it is a chemical imbalance brought about by stress. We have some talking therapies, and multiple antidepressant medications which have repeatedly been shown by rigorous scientific research to be able to wipe out the illness. The vast majority of people with depressive illness will in fact recover completely. People suffering from depressive illness are not mad, they simply have a temporary chemical imbalance due to stress. Support and encouragement of the depressed person by those around them, who are not frightened due to ignorance, will help considerably in the depressed person recovering more rapidly.
Fear of any illness, past or present, is a manifestation of lack of knowledge about that illness, with fantasies and rumours being generated by ignorance. The introduction to this site listed a whole range of occupations, and the fact is that huge numbers of people from every one of these occupations have in fact suffered depressive illness. You are not alone, even if it seems everyone is hiding the fact of depressive illness within themselves, or their families and friends.
Important Disclaimer: This site is medical information only, and is not to be taken as diagnosis, advice or treatment, which can only be decided by your own doctor.