Not a week goes by that a public figure (Naomi Osaka is the most recent) doesn’t disclose their battle with depression. The frequency of these revelations should occasion no surprise given the ubiquity of feelings of sadness.

So, why depict depression as a conundrum? One way to unravel this matter is by telling the stories of six randomly selected patients (thoroughly de-identified) I have treated in my psychiatric practice, some of them with the help of colleagues.

Kate* sought my help to overcome her writer’s block; her PhD thesis was way overdue. The intense distress it provoked was compounded by her boyfriend constantly admonishing her for “not getting on with it”.

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