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Home » Depression is a Disease of Civilization by Stephen Ilardi (Transcript)

Depression is a Disease of Civilization by Stephen Ilardi (Transcript)

Stephen Ilardi

Full text of Dr. Stephen Ilardi, on: Depression is a Disease of Civilization at TEDxEmory conference.

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I believe depression is one of the most tragically misunderstood words in the entire English language and here’s the problem. Depression has two radically different meanings depending on the context. So in everyday conversation when people say they’re depressed, they use the word depression as a synonym for sadness. It’s the normal human reaction to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. In that sense, all of us know the pain of depression.

And yet in a clinical context, depression is shorthand for a devastating illness we refer to it technically as major depressive disorder. This is an illness which robs people of their restorative sleep, robs them of their energy, robs them of their focus, their concentration, their memory, their sex drive, their ability to experience the pleasures of life. For most individuals, it robs them of their ability to love and work and play. It may even rob them of their will to live. And I’ll tell you why.

Because we now know depression lights up the pain circuitry of the brain, to such an extent that most clinically depressed individuals, if you talk to them and they let their guard down, they will tell you as they’ve told me hundreds of times. It’s torment, it’s agony, it’s torture, and many begin to look to death as a welcome means of escape.

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