- How To Know The Difference Between Normal Depression & Major
An Interview with Bob
Olson author of Win The Battle and How To Beat Depression
this interview, John Michaels interviews Bob on the subject of depression.
This interview was excerpted from How
To Beat Depression! A Private Interview / Seminar With Bob Olson,
the new ebook for depression sufferers and their supporters.
Michaels: Today we welcome Bob Olson, author of the book, Win
The Battle: The 3-Step Lifesaving Formula To Conquer Depression
And Bipolar Disorder. He is also the author of a new ebook, How
To Beat Depression! A Private Interview / Seminar With Bob Olson.
has a strong message for people suffering with depression, and
I’d like to jump right into our interview by asking: What is
it that has you so fired up, Bob?
Olson: Thanks, John. You’re right; I am fired up. Lately, I
keep recognizing a dangerous message that the media is allowing
to spread regarding depression, and I want to set the story
straight. If one more magazine writer, radio talk show host or
television news guest tells the public out of ignorance that we
don’t need medication to overcome major depression, they
should be sued for negligence. This message is both harmful and
deadly. And because it’s propagated in the media, innocent
depression sufferers are likely to believe it.
Michaels: Wow, you are fired up. Okay then, tell us why this
message is harmful and deadly.
Olson: This ill-informed message is harmful because it pollutes
the minds of innocent depression sufferers with false
information that could prolong their suffering for months or
years longer than necessary. And it is deadly because this
misinformation could lead one down the wrong path that
eventually leads to their suicide.
anyone has been diagnosed with “Major” depression,
“Clinical” depression or “Chronic” depression, then we
are merely using different words for the same condition, and
what I have to say is directed for your benefit. Even
“Bipolar” depression falls into this category—the
depression is the same. The only difference is that people with
bipolar disorder also have symptoms of mania.
the thing, John. Too many people have suffered with their
depression for months or years longer than necessary. Too many
people have taken their lives in escape of their depression. Yet
it is all preventable. Major depression can be quickly and
successfully be treated with antidepressants. And in many cases,
your suffering can stop in just two or three weeks. I’ve heard
cases where people’s depression ended in only a week.
Michaels: So are you saying that anyone with depression needs an
Olson: Certainly not. That’s another issue in itself. There
are a few doctors—more often general practitioners—who are
too quick to write a prescription for someone who only has
normal depression. These people do not need an antidepressant.
They will usually overcome their depression in a few days to a
few weeks, at most. And this is certainly why so many people,
including those in the media, are confused.
Michaels: Can you explain the two types of depression for us so
we aren’t confused?
Olson: It’s important to know the difference between the type
of depression that every human being is used to dealing with,
known as Normal or Reactive depression, and the depression
caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, known as Clinical
depression (aka chronic or major depression). I call this
Depression, or the depression that everyone is used to
dealing with, is often triggered by an event or circumstance in
which you react to emotionally, such as the death of a loved
one, the loss of a job, or the breakup of a relationship. This
type of depression is psychological
because you are emotionally “reacting” to something
that has happened. Hence, the term “Reactive” depression.
A reactive depression will normally go away on its own within a
few days to a few weeks. No medication or treatment is usually
necessary. The person will grieve the death of the loved one or
the loss of the relationship, or he will likely find another job
and move on. There will be emotions to deal with and adjustments
to make, but the person is generally not debilitated by the
event, at least not for very long. At most, he may require some
Clinical / Chemical Depression is more serious. The
depression that doctors call “clinical” depression (major,
chronic), and what I like to call “chemical” depression, is
the depression that is triggered by a chemical imbalance in the
brain. Hence, the term “Chemical” depression. This is a
biological disorder of the brain, but it has psychological
symptoms. This type of depression need not follow any sad,
stressful or upsetting event; it can kick in for no apparent
reason at all other than a change in one’s brain chemicals.
People who suffer with clinical (chemical) depression find they
have little, if any, control over their emotions and moods.
Since there are no obvious triggers for their depressions, it is
not possible to avoid them. And since one cannot mentally
control their brain chemicals—it requires medication—it is
impossible to “heal” this depression with counseling or
self-help techniques alone.
What makes clinical (chemical) depression all the more confusing
for people is that events and circumstances can trigger a
depression the same way it does for people who suffer with
reactive depression. In this way, the death of a loved one or
loss of a job might cause this person to become depressed in the
normal, reactive manner; but then the reactive depression
triggers a chemical reaction in the brain that turns this
reactive depression into a chemical (clinical) depression. At
this point, the person who has a predisposition to chemical
depression finds himself unable to overcome the depression that
was initially triggered by the death, job loss or relationship
here to order the Ebook/Seminar now on our secure server
Michaels: All right, so a reactive depression is triggered in
reaction to an event or circumstance in your life, and a
chemical depression is triggered by a chemical imbalance in the
Olson: That’s absolutely correct.
Michaels: Furthermore, for people who are susceptible to
chemical imbalances in the brain, a reactive depression can
sometimes turn into a chemical depression. In these cases, the
person’s brain chemicals do not return to normal after the
reactive depression, and the depression continues for more than
a few weeks. Is this correct?
Olson: Right again. And there is a major sign that helps you
know if your depression is reactive or chemical: When a
depression exists for most of the day and nearly every day, and
it lasts for more than a few weeks, and certainly if it has
extended over a period of months, you are likely dealing with a
chemical (clinical, major, chronic) depression.
Michaels: Excellent, that’s very clear now. Can you explain
why different names are used? Wouldn’t it be easier just to
use one name for each?
Olson: Yes. The term “Normal Depression” is just a
layman’s term. Doctor’s will better understand the term
“Reactive Depression,” as most people confuse their normal
depressions with their chemical depressions.
the term “Chemical Depression” is really my term. I use it
because I think it best describes what causes this type of
depression—a chemical imbalance in the brain. However, doctors
are more likely to call this type of depression a “Clinical
Depression,” a “Major Depression” or even a “Chronic
Michaels: So how does it benefit people to understand the
difference between reactive and chemical depression?
Olson: The purpose to understanding all this is that reactive
depression and chemical depression are treated differently, so
you need to know what type of depression you have in order to
know how to treat it. If you need treatment at all with reactive
depression, you’ll go to a counselor for talk therapy
(counseling). But chemical (clinical) depression will be treated
with medication—antidepressants—in most cases.
With that said, oftentimes, people suffering with what appears
to be a normal, reactive depression later find out that their
depression is, in fact, caused by a chemical imbalance in the
brain. Yet, the reason they did not know earlier was due to
their lack of knowledge about clinical (chemical) depression.
It’s very easy to mistaken the two.
know that when I was growing up, I was dealing with chemical
depressions long before I was ever diagnosed. I was diagnosed at
age 27 but can trace depressions all the way back to 3rd
grade. And it is common for people with chemical depression to
blame their symptoms on events and circumstances in their life,
as if they were normal depressions.
instance, while in my twenties, I blamed my gut-wrenching
sadness on law school. I didn’t know I was suffering with
chemical (clinical) depression, but I knew I was unhappy. And
since most of my waking hours were spent either going to law
school or studying for it, it was the most obvious source of my
unhappiness at which I could place blame.
I quit school. Unfortunately, a few months later, I still felt
terribly unhappy (that’s how I defined all my depressive
symptoms at the time), so I knew it wasn’t law school that had
been causing it. That was actually the first major signal for me
that I might be dealing with some disorder. It took another nine
months to finally seek help from a doctor, but it was the
wish I had come across an interview like this one. Maybe I would
have been diagnosed months earlier.
here to order the Ebook/Seminar now on our secure server
Michaels: Good point. Good point. I know I’m learning a lot
already. Now one question that comes to mind when you use the
term “chemical” is that this type of depression sounds
biological rather than psychological. I think you mentioned
that. Is this true?
Olson: Very perceptive, John. Few people ever get that. A most
important fact that people need to learn is that chemical
depression is not a psychological disorder, but rather, a
biological disorder. While there are psychological symptoms that
result from these biological, chemical imbalances in the brain,
the true cause of the suffering related to these disorders is
physiological (physio), not psychological.
means that to treat these disorders one needs to balance the
chemicals in their brain. If you balance these chemicals, your
debilitating symptoms will go away. And while it can sometimes
be difficult to find the right treatment to balance brain
chemicals, this is an important distinction for patients, their
supporters and society to understand because of the myths,
misunderstandings and stigma associated with these disorders.
further my point, let’s compare depression to another
biological disorder: diabetes. Diabetes is a chemical imbalance
in the pancreas. This biological disorder also has
psychological symptoms, some very similar to depression, yet no
one is confusing it as a psychological illness. Instead, the
psychological symptoms are perceived for what they
are—symptomatic results of a physiological (biological)
stress this point for three reasons. One, I stress it so that
people understand why it is necessary to take medication in
order to balance the chemicals in their brain. At this point in
time, there is no known treatment that is more effective and
consistent for clinical depression—not talk therapy, not
natural herbs, nothing.
the reason I make a point to explain that clinical depression is
biological is so you understand that your disorder is treatable.
If your disorder were a personality issue or character flaw—if
there were such a thing—it would be a psychological issue.
Psychological issues require counseling, sometimes leading to
months or years of therapy. But your disorder is physiological
(listen to that word carefully, “physio” like physical).
Clinical depression is a chemical imbalance in one of your
organs—your brain. So all you have to do is balance those
chemicals with the proper medication and you have treated the
disorder so that your symptoms and symptomatic behavior
I stress this point so that people understand that they are not
weak, crazy, slow or psychologically impaired. They simply have
a biological, biochemical disorder that causes some mental
impairments. Yet, once again, this disorder can be successfully
treated so that these symptomatic impairments are eliminated. I
know because that is exactly what happened to me.
illustrate what I mean about eliminating the chemically
imbalanced impairments, let me use an example from my own story.
When I was depressed, my depression caused me to be socially
withdrawn, among other symptoms, even socially phobic to some
extent. This meant that I no longer enjoyed going to parties, I
no longer enjoyed having guests at our home, I didn’t even
like answering the telephone. This is partially why I was
disabled from working for almost five years—well, that and the
fact that I was sleeping an average of eighteen hours a day.
when I finally found a medication that eliminated my symptoms, I
wasn’t “just” socializing again, I was actually partying
the very first day the depression lifted. And that is not an
exaggeration by any means. I went to my cousin’s wedding and
partied late into the night. Instantly, my social avoidance and
anxiety was gone. And within four weeks—once I was sure that
the depression wasn’t coming back—I went out job hunting and
got a job on the very first day. One month after that, I was
working twelve-hour days in an office with one hundred people,
carrying a great deal of responsibility with my employer’s top
clients. And I did it all with enthusiasm, joy and absolutely no
is the difference that takes place when you balance the
chemicals in your brain. It’s dramatic, to say the least.
can’t stress enough, John, that clinical depression is
biological, not psychological. If it were psychological, I never
would have been able to overcome my social anxiety so quickly.
Yet by simply taking a medication that worked successfully, all
my depressive psychological symptoms disappeared along with my
biological symptoms. And in case you are wondering, I never
underwent psychotherapy (talk therapy), so counseling was never
a factor. It was the medication, alone, that balanced the
chemicals in my brain and freed me from the torturous confines
of my brain disorder. And it has continued to keep me free for
over 11 years (since September 17th, 1994).
Michaels: So this is why you’re so upset. People are sending
out the message that depression can be overcome without
antidepressants, but that’s only true for “Reactive”
depression, not major depression.
Olson: Exactly. And I’ll give you a little hint of how you can
tell if you might be dealing with major depression. If you’ve
suffered with depression in the past that lasted several weeks
or months, then it went away, and now it’s back again,
there’s are really high probability that you are dealing with
a major depression—not a normal, reactive depression.
depression (major, clinical, chronic) is what we call
“recurring.” This means that it repeats—it comes and goes.
This is different for different people, but you generally know
if you’ve suffered with major depression in the past. For some
people, you might only have a depressive episode every five
years. For others, you might have one a year, or even two a
year. Many people fall into a depression around October or
November every single year. For others it’s every Fall and
Spring. And for others, Summer is when their depression returns.
important here is simply knowing that you’ve had depressions
in the past. If you have, there’s a likelihood that you’re
dealing with “recurring” depressions, which means your
depression is chemical (due to a chemical imbalance in the
Michaels: That might sound scary to some people.
Olson: Sure, nobody wants to hear that they have an illness of
any type. I wouldn’t want to learn that I have diabetes or
epilepsy or asthma either, but denying them isn’t going to
make them go away. Just like those disorders, if you don’t
properly treat your clinical depression, you’re going to
continue to suffer from it. And the good news is that this type
of depression is treatable. Millions of people have successfully
ended their depression thanks to antidepressants.
Michaels: So does clinical depression mean that the depression
is really bad, really severe?
Olson: No, there is a chemical depression called dysthymia that
is basically a mild chemical depression. In other words, the
symptoms never accelerate to such severe depths that the
depression sufferer can’t work or function normally. However,
he or she is plagued by this constant low-level depression that
slows them down, diminishes their energy and motivation, limits
their ability to concentrate, and causes them to be
over-sensitive, feel less confidence and have a lower
self-esteem. Dysthymia may be less disabling, but it is just as
destructive. It affects your relationships, your career, and
your overall enjoyment of life. Yet, once again, mild depression
like this is easily treatable.
Michaels: So what is the message you’re trying to send? What
would you like to say to offset the harmful and deadly messages
you spoke of earlier?
Olson: I’d like to tell people the truth, which is that close
to 20 million people in this country suffer with some form of
clinical depression, and that no amount of therapy, herbs or
self-help bullsquat is going to make it go away. The only proven
treatment for clinical depression, major depression, chronic
depression and even bipolar depression is medication. And if you
think you might suffer with depression of any sort, it would be
wise to see a psychiatrist (a medical doctor who specializes in
the mood disorders of depression and bipolar disorder) to
determine if your depression is “Reactive” or
all of this requires a much more detailed explanation, but it is
outside the confines of this interview to provide the detail
necessary. I do explain all of this in detail, however, in my
THE ABOVE WAS EXCERPTED FROM How
To Beat Depression! A Private Interview / Seminar With Bob Olson,
THE NEW EBOOK FOR DEPRESSION SUFFERERS & THEIR SUPPORTERS.
here to read more about this ebook
DOWNLOAD YOUR DIGITAL
"PDF" EBOOK COPY IN JUST 5 MINUTES
Seconds after your credit card is
approved, you will be taken to a download page with simple and specific
instructions on how to download your PDF ebook. Since this ebook is in PDF
format, you can read it right on your Adobe Reader (found on most
computers, or is free at Adobe.com).
Or you can print it out and read it anywhere. Click the link below to
begin reading your ebook within minutes.
here to order the Ebook/Seminar now on our secure server
Bob Olson is the editor of OfSpirit.com, GriefAndBelief.com and BestPsychicMeduims.com. However, due to his own 5-year chronic
depression that ended in 1994, and his deep compassion for those who suffer from depression or bipolar disorder, Bob has been
teaching people how to beat depression since 1999 via his books, websites, lectures & seminars.
In 1999 he released his first book on the subject titled Win
The Battle: The 3-Step Lifesaving Formula to Conquer Depression &
Bipolar Disorder. His newest program (2006) is his
ebook titled, How To Beat Depression. For more info, visit his website: