“There is no such thing as depression,” says Dr Lucy Johnstone. “There is no medical illness ‘depression’”, she elaborates. Johnstone also believes that it is immoral, unscientific, unprofessional, and inexcusable to tell someone they have borderline personality disorder.
Dr. Johnstone is a clinical psychologist, speaker, educator, and author from the UK who has long criticized the biological approach of psychiatry. She has spent several years working in adult mental health settings while also holding academic positions. She was the former Programme Director of the Bristol Clinical Psychology Doctorate. A well-regarded degree centered on a critical, politically aware, and service-user-informed philosophy, with an emphasis on personal growth.
Mary Boyle, retired professor of clinical psychology at the University of East London, agrees with her, albeit more subtly. Johnstone and Boyle are the primary authors of a paper released by the British Psychological Society’s clinical psychology division in 2018.
Mental health conditions are common. In 2019, 970 million people worldwide were living with a mental health condition. Anxiety and depressive disorders were the most common.
Major depressive disorder (MDD), also known as clinical depression, is a severe mood disorder with a high prevalence in all developed countries. Symptoms can include trouble sleeping, loss of interest in activities, and persistent sadness. I am one of the millions of people worldwide who have depression.
Mental health has a stigma attached to it. Attitudes such as Dr. Johnstone’s only perpetuate these stigmas. People don’t like to talk about mental health. Depression affects people from all walks of life.
As someone who has struggled with clinical depression for several years, I wish I had sought help sooner. I have only begun to feel better in the past year. In 2020, I started taking an antidepressant, which greatly improved my quality of life. For a couple of years, I also participated in weekly counseling sessions.
Asking for help is necessary, but it is not always easy. Asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength, not weakness. Eliminating stigmas about mental health is long overdue. No one should feel guilty for taking good care of their health.
Chand, Suma P. Hasan Arif. “Depression.” StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 18 July 2022.
“Dr Lucy Johnstone.” A Disorder For Everyone , A Disorder For Everyone , 6 Mar. 2017, https://adisorder4everyone.com/bio/lucy-johnstone/.
Global Burden of Disease Collaborative Network. Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 (GBD 2019) Covariates 1980-2019. Seattle, United States of America: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), 2020.
Naysmith, Stephen. “Mental Health Conditions Such as Schizophrenia and Even Depression Are …” The Herald, Newsquest, 30 Nov. 2018, https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/17326328.mental-health-conditions-schizophrenia-even-depression-myth-according-leading-experts-mind/.