Doctors, Depression and the American Dream

By Chuck Norris

December 16, 2016 6 min read

A report has revealed that, among the clinically depressed, doctors have far higher rates of depression than the average person. According to a recent study from Brigham and Women's Hospital as reported by Time magazine, medical students are also two to five times more likely to have depression than the general population.

"It's kind of paradoxical, give that they should recognize the signs better than anyone," says study author Dr. Douglas Mata.

Despite these alarming numbers, few doctors or medical students seek treatment for their condition. Sadly, it seems that mood disorders like depression are not taken seriously, even by physicians. As the Time investigative report revealed, the reasons that doctors have failed to seek treatment include many of the same factors that prevent so many who can afford care from receiving it. Included is the stigma attached to doing so. It is said that within the medical profession, issues of depression have long been viewed as "an open secret."

The good news is it's a secret no longer. As the study shows, more than a quarter of medical school students report depressive symptoms or signs of clinical depression. Approximately one in 10 experienced suicidal thoughts. According to a recent study of more than 50,000 people in 21 countries conducted by King's College London, Harvard Medical School, and the World Health Organization, 350 million people worldwide are affected by depression. The vast majority of them receive no treatment for their condition, either due to the stigma of it or a lack of knowledge. It's also an accepted fact that the emotional pain from depression, if not treated, can be channeled throughout your body and show up as physical ailments.

Even in the richest countries — including ours — only one in five people with depression seek care.. And while experts are quick to point out that depression and suicide are not necessarily synonymous, a recent study published in the American Medical Association publication JAMA Psychiatry revealed that, each year, at least one in 10 teens experience one episode or more of major depressive order.

The study goes on to note that, when parents have a history of depression, their teenage offspring are at a greater risk than average of developing the disorder themselves. According to the findings, when parents professionally treat their own depression, it goes a long way in helping their children grow up in a less stressful home environment and this takes away a major potential risk factor for kids developing depression.

So, if folks are not getting professional counseling from healthcare providers, what are they doing to treat their condition? According to another recently released report by the American Medical Association, this time in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, we are taking more and more prescription drugs. The study shows that, in 2013, one in six U.S. adults reported taking a psychiatric drug such as an antidepressant or a sedative for "problems with emotions, nerves or mental health." Antidepressants were the most common type, with 12 percent of adults reporting that they filled prescriptions for these drugs during the year. A little over 8 percent of adults were prescribed drugs from a group that included sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs.

Medicating seems to me to be less an answer to a cry for help than yet another piece of the puzzle in our inability to make sense of our world and to be truly and naturally happy in it; to find our way down the path toward the inalienable right with which our forefathers bestowed us; the right to pursue happiness.

I think of my mother who worked so hard and overcame so much in order to provide a better life for her children; of how this drive to make a better life for our children was instilled in us. It seems to me to be the driving force that forged our great country.

Yet, if anything is clear about the current state of affairs in this country, it's that a huge number of young people who have been told that they live in a country where life gets better are experiencing something quite different. Achieving the American Dream, which was a near certainty for past generations, seems no longer true. The American Dream not only survived the Great Depression, it went on to thrive in a way few people ever imagined. The question now before is: can it survive our current troubles?

As Henry Ward Beecher, a 19thcentury minister and one of the most influential Protestant spokesmen of his time once said: "Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven." I fear that if we fail them now, we are surely lost as a nation.

Write to Chuck Norris ([email protected]) with your questions about health and fitness. Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook's "Official Chuck Norris Page." He blogs at To find out more about Chuck Norris and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

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