Given the number of people calling Robin Williams "selfish" or even cowardly in the wake of his suicide, it's clear that the clinical condition of depression remains widely misunderstood, writes Dean Burnett at the Guardian. It "could really use a different name," he writes, because lots of people still equate it with feeling a little blue and think sufferers simply need to buck up. "I've said it before, and I’ll say it again: Dismissing the concerns of a genuine depression sufferer on the grounds that you’ve been miserable and got over it is like dismissing the issues faced by someone who’s had to have their arm amputated because you once had a paper cut and it didn’t bother you."
At Salon, Joanna Rothkopf sounds a similar theme. People don't realize that major depression is not only real, but it "carries the heaviest burden of disability among mental and behavioral issues," she writes. People might dismiss it as a condition partly because the best diagnostic tool is a conversation, not an X-ray, writes Lara Salahi at Boston.com. And yet it has physical manifestations: One reason depression is so debilitating is that it "suppresses a key hormone that can damage neurons in the brain in areas critical to maintaining memory and reasoning," she writes. Hence, the difficulty for some to just "snap out of it." As Williams proved, depression "can be masked by laughter, and—unlike Hollywood—in some cases, there are no happy endings." (Click to read about Williams' related battle with addiction.)