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After Robin Williams' Death, A Look At Depression

NPR
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Of the many expressions of grief and loss we’re hearing after the suicide death of Robin Williams, we’re also hearing a question: how could someone with everything — perhaps one of the most beloved Americans and one of the most loved comics on the planet — have depression?

There are too many who know the answer, but for those who don’t, Here & Now’s Robin Young brings in Dr. Harsh Trivedi, a psychiatrist and chief medical officer for Vanderbilt Behavioral Health, to discuss depression, bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression), substance abuse and suicide.

“You owe it to yourself — and you’re worth it — to try and get the help that you need,” Trivedi said.

Interview Highlights: Harsh Trivedi

On bipolar disorder

“Manic depression is another term for bipolar disorder. What happens there, is that you have people who may sometimes experience depression, sometimes may experience euphoria or there might actually be a mix of the two, where they could be experiencing both at the same time.”

On the relationship between mania and creativity

“What we find is, if somebody is just depressed, its a miserable feeling to feel depressed day after day after day. That actually causes people to want to get help and to feel better. The problem is that when someone’s manic, it’s the happiest they’ve ever felt in their lives and part of the difficulty when you help people to get treatment for their bipolar disorder or their manic depression, what ends up happening is you’re basically blunting that really high feeling. A lot of the people that are bipolar, particularly those that are creative, they say, ‘I can’t be myself, I can’t write my music, I can’t be a comedian, I can’t do my acting if I’m not in a somewhat high euphoric state.’ There’s this perception that it also takes away from their creativity.”

On treatment for depression and bipolar disorder

“I think the most important thing to keep in mind here is, there is help available. Depression and manic depression, as well as addiction, those are all diseases that are just as real as heart disease and cancer. Treatment can be effective and you owe it to yourself — and you’re worth it — to try and get the help that you need.”

Mental Health Resources

Guest

  • Harsh Trivedi, psychiatrist and chief medical officer at Vanderbilt Behavioral Health.
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