I just read an op-ed piece written by a doctor in which he discusses why he feels it would be better for people with depression to be forced to work rather than allowed to go on disability. The crux of his argument seemed to be that when he was a junior doctor he lived next door to some young men who were on disability for depression yet they were able to get out in the yard and play football. The more I read of his article, it became clear to me that he was, in fact, jealous because he was working hard learning to be a doctor so he could treat these people who seemed to be living the easy life, drawing a check from the government, even though they were not really debilitated enough, in his opinion, to be disabled.
Reading this article, it occurred to me that depression doesn't get the respect that it should because it is an invisible illness. There is nothing obviously wrong with people who are depressed. They plaster on a fake smile, make an appearance at work every day and everything appears to be normal. But, does the fact that depressed people are physically capable of getting themselves to work mean they aren't too disabled to work? I think only someone who has experienced depression knows the real answer to that question.
I am one of the lucky ones who was able to recover from depression with treatment. But, what if I had been treatment-resistant, going from one medication to another with no relief, the way so many people do? I can remember dragging myself to work most days, pulling myself out of bed at the last possible second because my sleep had been so poor. I would be there in body, but not really up to the task emotionally, psychologically or even physically. I made numerous mistakes, my productivity was low and all-around I was just not a good employee when I was depressed. Whenever I possibly could, I used sick days and vacation time to relieve the unbearable stress. I can well imagine what it is like for the chronically depressed person who is not able to find relief through any means. How can you do a competent job at work when you can barely find the energy to pull yourself out of bed? If you are struggling to hold a job because of your depression and there is no end in sight for your symptoms, why shouldn't you be considered disabled?
Do you receive disability benefits because of your depression? Have you considered applying? Share your thoughts about this topic by leaving a comment below.
About.com, 27th January 2009