La dépression à tue-tête

Documentary
French (Available subtitled in French)

Region: Quebec

Year of Production: 2016

Duration: 60

What is depression? How do we recognize it? What’s the difference between psychological distress, angst, anxiety, burnout, and depression? How do you distinguish the natural pain of bereavement, for example, from pathological pain, or those going through a tough time in life from those who are really sick? How can we tell when the situation becomes serious enough for intervening, when we know that many people, if left untreated, are in danger of ending their lives?

In La dépression à tue-tête, the sick and the experts reveal the psychological suffering and mental illness that is increasingly widespread in our society and the shortcomings of our healthcare system in dealing with it. The documentary also looks into the social and economic consequences of this affliction.

“There’s never been so much psychological distress (...) We can almost speak of it as an epidemic,” said Denise Fortin, director of the Louis H. Lafontaine Psychiatric Hospital, to L’Actualité magazine last year. In order to stop this epidemic, we have to know, first of all, what we’re talking about...and that’s what this documentary sets out to do: throw light on the shadowy areas and clear up the blurred boundaries between all the symptoms of distress, mood disorders, and anxiety to better explain the disease so we can better understand just what it really is.

The word depression has become a cliché, an all-purpose word for mood disorders that are difficult to describe, often denied, or ignored by the sick, and misunderstood by those around them. Some mental disorders, while not depression, can lead to depression if not treated properly. And depression is a very serious illness that can be fatal when left untreated. Some 80% of people who commit suicide suffer from depression.1 “Depression is a supremely intractable disorder.” (Roni Jacobson, Scientific American Review, August 13, 2014). Nicknamed the ‘insidious disease,’ depression is a disorder that truly is very difficult to detect.

Under-diagnosed, under-treated, and a clear lack of access to care have created a real time bomb for the individual and for society: “Individuals 24 to 44 are the most affected: the rate of burnout increases every year among the most productive in our society, and the number of major depressions has doubled in the past 10 years for this segment of the population. The impact on society is significant: depression is the number one cause of disability at work with half a million Canadians absent from work every week because of it, at a cost to the Canadian economy of $51 billion a year.”2

“In the context of primary care, it is estimated that one in two depression cases goes unnoticed and some studies suggest that up to three quarters of depressed patients are not receiving appropriate treatment.”3 The difficulty of access to psychological care, especially for low-income individuals, is an aggravating factor in many cases.

“Depression is under-diagnosed, under-treated. We don’t talk about it enough, treatments, when they are available, are not aggressive enough, and patients are left still struggling with their symptoms,” says Dr. Suzie Lévesque, psychiatrist and specialist in depressive disorders at the CHUQ.

All the psychiatrists and psychologists encountered for the documentary agree on one thing: these mental health problems spread like wildfire partly because patients refuse to acknowledge their condition, and doctors do not always detect the severity of the symptoms. According to a massive 2012 survey of 514 million people in 30 European countries: “Only 33% of patients are treated, which is explained by the stigmatization of mental disorders, by the taboo they represent in society, and by the lack of awareness the general public has about the problem.”

Antidepressants are the best-selling drugs in the world. Does this mean that depression is the most common disease in the world? Is there actually an increase in cases of depression or is the disease simply better known and better diagnosed?

Who is affected by depression, how and why? How do you understand and interpret the cries for help from those sick with depression? La dépression à tue-tête seeks to find out how to spot the signs of the disease, prevent it, or treat it before it is too late. The documentary will also try to make people understand that there is nothing morally wrong about suffering from depression, that no one is totally immune, and that the effects of stigmatization are as harmful to the sick as the disease is itself.

Depression is still a disease people are ashamed of, but there is really no longer any reason for the stigma being attached to it today.

The death of Robin Williams has been compared in some American newspapers to a global press conference on depression. How could someone who had everything…success, love, recognition, wealth…take their own life, wanting to die? La dépression à tue-tête will attempt to answer this and other questions by giving a voice to those struggling with depression, so they can be better understood and break free, as well as giving the floor to those who speak on their behalf. The film is also a strong denunciation of the lack of accessibility to adequate care.

This exposé on the most common mental illness in Western society deserves our total attention. We can never say too much about it.

1 Ministère de la Santé et Services sociaux du Québec

2 Mental Health Commission of Canada

3 Ordre des psychologues du Québec

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Argus productions inc

Cast/Participants: Louise Forestier, Samuel Croteau, Aline Valade, Sophia Thériaul,t Dre Joanne Dumoulin, Dre Valérie Tourjman