Is Depression Manufactured?

According to psychotherapist Gary Greenberg in the new book “Manufacturing Depression,” the “depression doctors” have simply convinced millions of people that their unhappiness is really a disease.

From a review in The Brooklyn Rail:

it’s just a story we have allowed the medical establishment to tell us. There is no biochemical marker for depression, no good way to tell who is and who isn’t depressed. The tools doctors use to diagnose depression, as well as the other varieties of mental illness, are based on symptoms alone—whether someone is eating or sleeping more or less than usual, for example, or suffering from excessive guilt, or engaging in too much self-criticism.  Most of what’s diagnosed as depression is, in other words, nothing more than the name our society gives to a particular kind of emotional and mental suffering considered worthy of fixing.

Until I actually read the book, I can’t adequately comment on Mr. Greenberg’s book. However, just reading the reviews makes me wonder if the times I’ve spent with my mind filled with suicidal thoughts were just normal part of life, not because I have depression. When do we consider someone’s behavior to be a “legitimate” mental illness? And if depression is truly manufactured, then how should I view my experience with ECT? Am I just a person who’ve tragically bought in to all the lies and have gone too far in trying to ‘treat’ an “illness”?


3 Comments to “Is Depression Manufactured?”

  1. I really would not put too much stock in this, just because something cannot – YET – be medically proven in a way that would satisfy this person, does not make it real. Cynicism is understandable and it is easy to be skeptical of the whole medical and pharmacological establishment but I just think of those doctors who are out there doing good work regardless of the financial reward and remember that these nay-sayers are usually making a pretty penny for expressing their controversial views. Louise Hay is a multimillionaire motivational speaker who claims to have cured her own cancer through positive thoughts. All medical problems can be traced to negative thinking, she says. She says she knows this because her “inner ding” tells her so. (This Emotional Life – recently aired on PBS).

  2. i think his argument is total crap. i’m happy to say it without having read the book, and i’ll say it afterwards too. my guess is that he has never expereinced a depressive episode. but even if he is right, and it’s just unhappiness being pathologized, that doesn’t render it untreatable via the medical model. what works works. it’s as simple as that.

  3. this article is indeed troubling, since i have just traveled through almost a year of frustrating, sad, almost-immobilizing depression. after 25 years of marriage, my husband had never seen me in such a state and was duly frightened. thankfully i am doing well now, taking an anti-depressant along with something to prevent a recurrence of mania after 30 years. somehow i do not think mr. greenberg knows what he is talking about.

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