Voice of Fairness

My personal opinion on science, religion and politics

Mental Depression

What is mental depression? There are many different definitions. I will start with one which, while not quite right, serves as an excellent starting point.

Let A be what you already have, B be what you deserve to have by time t, D = B – A. Let p(D, t) be probability that you will have D by time t. You are suffering from mental depression if you perceive p(D,t) = 0, and the degree of your mental depression increases with D.

There are various counselling approaches to treat mental depression, but three of them are frequently practiced. The first approach, given the definition, is to persuade the patient to desire less. If B = A, then D = 0. So the disease is cured and the patient is happy. If B < A (which means that one feels that he/she has more than he/she deserves, i.e., D <0), then the patient is no longer a patient, but will become a Christian singing praises to God. Unfortunately, most patients found such an approach offensive and will not continue.

The second approach, somewhat related to the first and the third, is to help the patient to change his/her perception from p(D,t) = 0 to p(D,t) > 0. This includes two sub-approaches. The first sub-approach is to break down D into various components, e.g., D1, D2, ..., Dn, and so that p(Di, t) > 0 at least for some i. This has the same effect of shrink B so that it will be closer to A. Although p(D,t) = 0 when t is now, p(D,t) may be greater than 0 when t is several years from now. As long as the patient can perceive p(D,t) > 0, he/she would have hope and will suffer mental depression less. Councilors of this approach often will change p(D,t) to a more complicated form, i.e., p(D,t,Spouse+). This is because p(D,t) may be 0 with a nay-saying spouse, but would become greater than 0 with a yes-saying spouse. Such a change in perspective would imply that the spouse or other key relatives would need to participate in the counselling as well. Unfortunately, spouses or other key relatives, perceiving a cost in changing their position from nay-saying to yes-saying, are often not enthusiastic in participating in this type of counselling.

The third approach is based on the observation that patient is often depressed because of a conflict between the patient and those related to the patient, especially spouses. The conflict occurs when the patient believe that he/she deserves B but the spouse thinks otherwise. The patient suffers because he/she feels that nobody is paying attention to what he/she deserves. Given this, the councilor of the patient will simply affirm to the patient that he/she does deserve B, and that it is the fault of the society (and of his/her spouse) not to have recognize this. Most patients generally are very fond of this type of counselling. Some of them could even be described as being addicted to it. For this reason, this type of counselling is widely practiced, not only because patients love it, but also because it requires little professional knowledge. Unfortunately, this type of counselling often aggravate the conflict between the patient and his/her relatives.

There are other approaches, associated with alternative definition of mental depression. Some scientists would argue that the term “mental depression” is entirely misleading because many “mental depression” patients have a physical basis for the depression, often associated with anemia, fatigue or anything factors contributing to low oxygen supply to the brain. In fact, any serious discussion of mental depression would require substantial profession biomedical knowledge. For the time being, I will stop and leave readers think for a while.

(Re-posted from my Google+)

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