Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsO7

'Aw, Get Up and Walk'

August 23, 1987

Lee Dembart's flippant review of "Overcoming Depression" (The Book Review, July 28) is disturbing in that it perpetuated some old myths. Dembart's remarks about depression not necessarily being pathological, and about many different antidepressant medications existing "to make sure that the patients keep coming back for yet another try," show surprising ignorance.

Feeling down because your dog got run over is indeed normal and appropriate, but that is not what is referred to in the psychiatric definition of "depression." Clinical depression is the disproportionate feeling of sadness, of frequently suicidal despair, which may affect a person for no apparent reason . There is a list of several disabling symptoms which may accompany depression, and the patient must have, say, four out of 10 of those symptoms for the diagnosis to be made.

Clinical depression has been more than merely "surmised," as Dembart put it, to be of biological worth. Several studies have actually pinpointed the responsible defective chromosomes which cause biochemical depression--including manic-depressive illness--and have traced the genetic patterns through families.

To arrogantly equate bad-luck feelings with biochemical depression, as Dembart did, is like saying to someone with polio, "Aw, get up and walk and stop feeling sorry for yourself."

TOM BURNS

Acton, Calif.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|