Opinion: Depression

POSTED: 11/20/12 1:56 PM

When we read that more than half the absenteeism is due to a psychiatric disorder or depression, we almost fell over backwards. Maybe this is true, we don’t know.

As born optimists we have a bit of a problem with such a statement. Just last week we heard from our Minister of Economic Affairs that absenteeism in his department is high. Same thing at the police in the Netherlands by the way, so it’s not island fever.

If we combine this information with the statement about psychiatric disorders, we could conclude that there are a lot of civil servants (here and abroad) with mental problems. It is remarkable that this apparently occurs at state employers like ministries and the police force.

We’ll excuse anybody who has a real health problem in a heartbeat, but we’re not buying that psychiatric disorders are widespread in the civil service or in the working population at large. That sounds like a lot of baloney.

Depression is one of those mental states that seem to occur plenty. Why would that be? It’s a bit so you almost always get the benefit of the doubt. Same thing with depression. All you have to do is pull a depressed face, declare that your are depressed and you are in business – that is to say: you’re home free on sick leave.

But where is the pride in choosing that path? And why would anybody want to be depressed in the first place?

If we assume (and we strongly believe this to be true) that everything in life is a choice, there is an easy escape route for people who claim to be depressed. We choose to be happy, we choose to be lazy, we choose to relax, we choose to become a couch potato or an overactive athlete. Life is full of choices.

We also choose to be sick or to be healthy. It is to a large extent a state of mind. And so it is with depression: if people choose to be depressed, they also have the option to choose not to be depressed.

You don’t need to go to a shrink for months on end; you just have to be ready to accept that the state you’re in is a choice. If you like that choice, by all means, remain depressed. But for all those who are now thinking that depression requires pharmaceuticals or psychiatric treatment, give this option we offer here for free a shot: choose not to be depressed. Put a smile on your face, get on with your life and let us know how that change made you feel.

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