Sunday, December 9, 2012

Depression vs. Cancer: An Investigation

By Glenn Campbell (in Fayetteville, NC)

I saw this sign (above) at the Newark airport yesterday, and it pissed me off.
"You'd never say, 'It's just cancer, get over it.' So why do some say that about depression?"
I say cancer and depression are completely different. Furthermore, equating the two may be doing a great disservice to depression sufferers.

Cancer has very little to do with your attitude—at least after you already have it. It is a physical disease that is likely to kill most people without aggressive medical intervention. The implication here is that depression is also a disease you have no control over that requires outside medical intervention.

Depression, in fact, is all about attitude! Unlike cancer, only you can cure your own depression. Modern medicine is limited to two options: drugs and counseling. Every addict knows that drugs can make you happy, but the problem with all kinds of drugs—legal or otherwise—is they don't solve the underlying problem, whatever it may be, so you'll probably revert back to depression after you go off them. The claim that antidepressants are non-addictive is nonsense. If something makes you feel good, who wouldn't want to keep doing it?

The aim of counseling, on the other hand, is to change your attitude, to get you to take responsibility for controlling your own mood. This is essentially the opposite of the "Depression is something you have no control over" message.

In either case, someone is making a lot of money. Either it's the drug companies selling you their drugs or the medical establishment making big hourly rates on counseling. No one makes any money if you take control and solve the problem yourself.

Ultimately, the only way to cure depression is for the sufferer himself find some way to manage and assimilate it. Far more than cancer, your personal attitude and willingness to change have a huge impact on your depression. Yes, you must "Get over it" one way or another!

So who is sponsoring this sign? I suspect it is the drug industry, which has a big financial stake in making you think you have no control so they can sell you their patented antidepressants. Or maybe it is the people who make money from counseling. Unfortunately, it is hard to read the fine print on the ad in my photo, so I don't know for sure.

To find out more, I went to the website given,, and it doesn't exist! Click for yourself. "Domain Name Not Found." Change the suffix, however, and we do better: does exist. This seems to be the correct site, offering not-for-profit tips on depression. The site is professionally produced but says remarkably little: Just four articles of bland and useless advice ("Be sure to discuss your depression with your partner.") and links to Wikipedia and HeathGuide. You'd get a more useful and relevant information by simply Googling "depression".

Nowhere on this website does it say who the sponsor is. There's no foundation name or anything else. I could try to track down who owns the domain name, but why should I have to? Why the big mystery?

An observation: .ORG is suppose to refer to an non-commercial organization while .COM is a commercial one. This may or may not mean anything, but it is funny that someone would put all the effort into these signs and not even bother to register the website the sign is directing people to. It seems to me the main reason for the sign is not to direct people to any website but to perpetuate the message: "Depression = Cancer". The website just seems like a pro-forma requirement for the one person out of a thousand who will actually look it up.

This ad is probably an unpaid public service message, provided free by the ad company when signs are unsold. That doesn't prove it is "good" however. A lot of legally "nonprofit" organizations have dubious pedigrees, set up by people who have a lot to gain by spreading a certain message.

Depression is a part of life. Anyone who hasn't suffered from it hasn't lived. You feel depressed when things go wrong, and sometimes you feel depressed for no good reason. All of us must learn to deal with it. The only people who don't deal with it are those who don't accept it that it is their own problem, who insist that somebody else must solve it for them. These people are happy to seek out medical help because it helps them avoid making any changes in their own life.

This ad plays right into their hands. Depression is like cancer, so you don't have to face it yourself. Take it to qualified medical practitioner who will bill your insurance company.

Everybody makes money, but is the patient really cured?


  1. I'll agree with this. Nothing will get solved long term until the underlying problem is identified and dealt with.
    I think of the quit smoking ads. They said it was so hard to quit that you need this or that product.


  2. Glenn Campbell, I am so sorry your view on depression is so tainted by outside sources. Someone who is clinically depressed has gone through some sort of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Anxiety disorder or have been detained for suicidal behavior. No one can simply walk into a clinical office and get a doctor to sign off on anti-depressants.

    Depression is a mental disorder that can be genetically passed to generations just like some cancers. Depression is a silent killer that consumes victims by tainting the mind unlike cancer where it is obvious and much more physical. Both however, end in death if not treated to the best of the physicians ability.

    The sign obviously had no purpose except to raise awareness of depression. I agree with you that depression and cancer do not correlate exactly, but no one should ever say "get over it" to someone who is clinically depressed because it is a mental illness. That would be like saying "just calm down" to someone who has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

    Lastly, I want to point out one last misconception in your third to last paragraph. Everyone does experience being depressed and upset in their life, and that is "get over"-able. People who are clinically depressed, however, cannot simply change their attitude and all of a sudden be better. They need psychiatric help from registered physicians and medical staff to help them through their mental illness.

    Thank you, Kyle (If you have any other questions contact me at

    1. thank you for your response. i agree with you. cancer and depression don't correlate exactly but i guess the point is that neither one of them are cured by simply 'getting over it'..

    2. Thank you! Your comment means a lot. This article was very sad to read. It's more complicated than just "snapping out of it"

  3. Depression is a mental disorder that can be genetically passed to generations just like some cancers

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  4. There is a big difference between experiencing 'depression' as a temporary mood that everyone experiences and depression as a longer-term mental illness, not only in the experience but in the way it is created in the brain. And thus the approach to it should be different.

    I think confusing the two creates the ignorance that people with depression just need to 'get over it'. Insensitivity toward depression is one thing that works against people getting better and I am sure has cost many lives. Depression kills, and even if people don't actually take their lives, living in the black cloud is not living. This is not something to be taken lightly.

    I had a severe depressive episode 10 years ago, (the most explicit behaviour of which was being on the verge of suicide for months). It is really hard for someone who has never experienced it to even comprehend the mental state of someone in a serious depressive state of mind, it is really different to being a little depressed.

    Anyway, I took anti-depressants and they significantly helped, to the point that I was able to live a relatively normal life. I was however dependant on them and tried to come off several times but I always became depressed and my red-flag was when I began having suicidal ideation - then I would go on the anti-depressants.

    3 years ago I decided to give it a serious attempt and spent a year and a half going to see a psychologist weekly and I replenished my body of the nutrients it had been depleted of (nutrients required for good mental health). I went off the birth control pill and began practising positive affirmations. I have now been off anti-depressants for 3 months now and have only had a few mild depressive episodes that I have been able to control with thought control techniques such as positive affirmations, thought challenging and CBT, (oh and the help of a few beautiful people). No suicidal thoughts!

    My 10 year battle to overcome depression, or at the very least the last 3 years, has been a lot harder than the phrases 'changing my attitude' or 'getting over it' give it credit for. It has taken time and money and cost me a lot on the way.

    When people I cared about would approach my depression with the attitude of 'just get over it' that insensitivity definitely took me steps backwards in terms of recovery. It was like they were saying there was something wrong with me because I should be able to just get over it when I couldn't. When your depressed, feeling like people you care about think there is something wrong or bad about you is fodder for the illness.

  5. I understand that cancer and depression are different illnesses, but surely both require the attitude of the sufferer to change in order to deal with. A person with cancer can choose to have treatment for their illness just as a person with depression can for theirs. I don't doubt the strength of cancer patients, as their life's must be very hard, but surely it takes an awful amount of courage and bravery for a depressed person to seek treatment, especially as some are unable to even see a future or a life worth fighting for. I don't think either diseases are something patients are able to get over.

  6. Hello All,Despite the fact that stress can bring about various physical health issues,the evidence that it can bring about cancer is weak.A few studies have shown a link between different psychological factors and an expanded danger of developing cancer,yet others have not.Obvious links between psychological stress and cancer could emerge in a few ways.For example,individuals under stress may add to specific practices,for example,smoking,overeating, or drinking alcohol,which expand an individual's danger for cancer.On the other hand somebody who has a relative with cancer may have a higher danger for cancer due to an imparted acquired danger element,not in view of the stress affected by the family part's diagnosis.Best wishes.

  7. Please educate yourself, don't post shit like this without actually knowing about it. And most people on anti depression medisine doesn't want to use it, but has to. Klinical depression is not a mood, and it affects you physically too. Please, read up, depression is so misunderstood.

  8. Please educate yourself, don't post shit like this without actually knowing about it. And most people on anti depression medisine doesn't want to use it, but has to. Klinical depression is not a mood, and it affects you physically too. Please, read up, depression is so misunderstood.

  9. Not that i am defending mental disorder. But the person writing this article, does not know nothing about it.

  10. Not that i am defending mental disorder. But the person writing this article, does not know nothing about it.

  11. Not that i am defending mental disorder. But the person writing this article, does not know nothing about it.

  12. Attitude? Attitude!!!?. I'm 3 years late but I had to respond. Been clinically depressed for two decades and 1 year. I'm 21. My whole life? That's a long time to be cranky mate. Do your research properly next time.

  13. A former President of my country was as ignorant. Said HIV isn't in any way connected to aids. Denied people free health care. Hundreds of thousands died. Dumb people should be thrown into a black hole strong enough to detain this kind of stupidity. Fvckin douche

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  16. I can't find the appropriate words to appreciate your commitment and services in treating cancerous patients. You have given a new hope to my sick sister.

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  18. I know your expertise on this. I must say we should have an online discussion on this. Writing only comments will close the discussion straight away! And will restrict the benefits from this information. Hope4Cancer

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  21. An fascinating discussion is value comment. I think that it is best to write extra on this matter, it won’t be a taboo topic however generally people are not enough to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers

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  23. Hi Glenn Campbell, can I please use this picture you took at the airport to raise awareness on my YouTube page at

  24. We are adapting all the more consistently about how the entire procedure functions. Better medicines originate from more learning. Depression treatment originates from an assortment of drugs available.Self hypnosis

  25. Great post mate, thank you for the valuable and useful information. Keep up the good work! FYI, please check these depression, stress and anxiety related articles:

    20 Ways to calm your mind – How to calm your mind

    22 Ways To Become More Positive – How To Become Positive

    25 Ways To Forget Unwanted Memories – How to Forget a Bad Memory

    Top 25 Ways To Reduce Stress – How To Reduce Stress

    21 Ways To Get Rid Of Anger – How To Get Rid Of Anger

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  26. You must be mindful so as to look for meds that have been clinically considered and have been demonstrated to show constructive outcomes in the treatment of depression.

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