“My dad killed himself when I was nine. That changed my life forever.”
We’ve both seen depression up close. We grew up under the cloud of depression that hangs over a family. Both of our dads suffered from Depression. One father made it out. The other one didn’t.
I was 22 years old when my dad finally let me in on the fact that he had been suffering from depression for most of his life. He did his best to hide it from me and my brothers because he wanted to be a great dad and for us to have a happy childhood. For many years he had little to no help and really struggled. Finally in the 90s, new medications like Prozac and Lexapro helped him find his balance, at least most of the time. One day after starting the right medication he woke up and said to my mom, “So this is what normal people feel like.”
Jeremy wasn’t so lucky. For years he kept his father’s suicide hidden. It felt painful and shameful and still raw. Coming to terms with the idea that your superhero’s depression was so profound that he took his own life isn’t easy. He still wonders what life would be like if his dad was here.
Looking back, we just wish there was something we could have done.
It’s too late for us to help our dads with their depression. But there are millions of other people and families who do need help: depression will affect around 1 in 5 American adults – that’s 50 million people. The incidence and severity of depression also appear to be growing – the suicide rate has increased 24% in just 15 years.
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and costs the US about $200 billion in direct and indirect costs per year. It also has a big impact on health, increasing risks for heart disease and worsening outcomes for those with chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes. The human cost for individuals and families is unquantifiable.
The good news is that depression treatment can be highly effective – primary treatments include medication, therapy, and self care. It’s estimated that 80-90% of people who get treatment get better. The bad news is that the majority of people with depression are not getting care. Despite the millions of people battling depression every day, there is still the inaccurate stigma that it must signal some kind of flaw or weakness – leading many to hide their depression rather than address it. Others are unsure what is happening and what they can do about it, and many have difficulty getting access to high quality and affordable treatment resources.
We need to do better. And that’s why we created Brightside.
Our mission is to deliver life-changing care to people with depression – people like our dads.
Depression can feel overwhelming and confusing. Depression treatment can feel complex and intimidating. We’re working to make it simple to get top quality care from the privacy of home so more people can get the care they need.
We’re doing this for all of the dads – and the moms, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, and friends – who need a little help. Depression isn’t a flaw and it isn’t a weakness. It’s a powerful, but treatable, illness.
Wherever you are is the perfect place to start.
Brad and Jeremy