Depression 101

Living well with depression


Dr. David Goldbloom: It Gets Brighter (4:18)

Dr. Goldbloom talks about how people with mental health problems do recover, and how to get help.

Hi, my name is Dr. David Goldbloom. I'm a psychiatrist, here in Toronto, at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. It's been my privilege to work with people with mental illness and their families over the course of the last 30 years. And the 30 years of experience has taught me a great deal about the experience of people affected by mental illness, either themselves directly, or the people around those individuals who care for them and care about them. I've had the opportunity to see people struggle in the darkness of mental illness and to see those people emerge from that darkness. One of the things about mental illness is just how incredibly common it is as a human experience. We know that one in five individuals is affected in some way by some form of mental health problem or illness, and the irony of course is that that ubiquity is accompanied by silence, by shame, by stigma and by discrimination, all of which coalesce to deny people access to the help that they need, and the help that can make a difference in their lives. Just a day or two ago I was seeing a patient of mine who I've known for about four years, who has struggled with manic-depressive illness or bipolar disorder. And she was in a manic episode last year, and as she sat in this office two days ago, she started to piece together what her experience had been. And she described it as an alternate reality. She couldn't believe how ill she had been, but also how much better she had gotten. So it was that kind of experience that was transformative for her in terms of understanding herself better, understanding her illness better. But also for me, it was a chance to see the renewal of her sense of hope for herself, for her future, for her sense of mastery over what had happened to her. The reality is that people can and do get better, if they can access the kind of help that works for them, the kind of help that they need. But all too often, there are barriers, whether it's lack of supply, lack of resource, unaffordability or, as I mentioned earlier, those other more secret barriers of silence, shame and stigma. So the first step for me, that I advise people, is to seek out someone you know, someone you trust, who may or may not have been through this kind of experience themselves, but someone who will give you a non-judgmental ear. And then the commonest place that people find help is not in a psychiatrist's office like mine, but at the office of their family doctor, who represents for most people, the portal of entry into mental health care. Whatever route people take, and there are many routes, whether it's a community mental health agency, a spiritual counsellor, a friend, a family doctor, a psychiatrist, or a psychologist or a social worker, the point is that all of those routes have the potential to lead to one final destination. That being feeling better and getting better. And in that sense, it's really truthful to say it gets brighter.

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