I was mistaken for a real doctor once and invited to a seminar for physicians on the topic of depression. Instead of admitting to being a psychologist with a Ph.D. rather than an M.D., I decided to attend the seminar and find out what physicians were being told about depression. After procuring my doughnut and fruit medley, I sat with 250 physicians and listened to a simple message: "Depression can be diagnosed quickly and reliably by observing a patient's facial features, and the only effective treatment is medication." I left with an attractive pen bearing the sponsoring pharmaceutical company's name—and deep discomfort with what I had just witnessed. Medication can be useful in treating depression, but it is only one tool.

If we view depression through the medical-model lens, we may easily begin thinking of it as something one "gets" or even "catches," and that the only treatment is to take medicine to make it go away. While it is true that depression often has biological markers, such as depletion of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, the medical model fails to capture the complexity of a problem that is also related to past trauma, current social support, cultural milieu, spiritual and religious concerns, recent losses, guilt and shame, medical problems, and more.

Detecting Depression

Here are three questions to consider if you think you or a loved one may be struggling with depression.

First, ask the beyond sadness question. Life in our sinstained world can be tough, and everyone feels the wear and tear of it at various points in life. With depression, sadness progresses to a point of persistent and deep emotional pain, often coupled with hopelessness, irrational feelings of guilt, and sometimes ...

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