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[Opinion] Depression

Posted June. 08, 2005 06:44,   


Winston Churchill (1874~1965), who was always full of confidence, actually suffered from depression throughout his life. He even used to refer to his depression as “black dog,” which indicates the severity of his suffering. “Taming the Black Dog” is a book by Bev Aisbett who got the idea for the name by Churchill’s reference. This famous Australian writer revealed his own plausible analysis on Churchill’s condition in his book, saying that depression probably made Churchill unable to quit smoking and drinking until the day he died.

Some describe depression as a cold that the heart gets, meaning that depression is as common as a cold. However, being common doesn’t mean that it is okay to be treated lightly. Seemingly common conditions such as being sentimental in autumn can be as deadly as putting sufferers into misery-like extreme anxiety and despair, and in the end committing suicide. In the case of Korean actress Lee Eun-ju and Hong Kong actor Leslie Cheung, depression was known as the reason for their suicides. The World Health Organization has already tagged depression one of the three major illnesses of the 21st century.

Depression is a psychiatric illness that middle-aged people face most often, but in these days juvenile depression is also in a serious state, according to experts. Juvenile depression usually does not display typical symptoms, such as anxiety, impatience, and sadness, which make it hard to notice any signs. However, addiction to the computer can be also another symptom of depression, according to experts. To put it another way, such addiction is a behavior to receive attention in cyberspace because the addict is unable to have this relationship in reality.

Seoul National University announced that it will conduct a research on the actual condition of depression that its students might have. The decision came because the university felt that the recent increase of suicide and violent behaviors indicates that the students’ mental health could be more serious than expected. The university also said that it will run a counseling program for students diagnosed with depression. Where did juvenile depression start? Maybe the university entrance examination in their high school years and worrying about getting a job after graduation are the reasons. In other words, the hectic and excessive competition is to be blame, which also means that this is not just a problem of an individual suffering from depression, but also a structural problem of the society in which we are living. That’s why Seoul National University’s announcement makes me sad.

Song Dae-keun, Editorial writer, dksong@donga.com