The Problem With Ariana Grande and Jim Carrey's Twitter Convo About Depression

Starting a dialogue on depression is great, but perpetuating the idea that medication isn’t an important part of its treatment is dangerous

Tara MacInnis

Did you know that Ariana Grande is a huge Jim Carrey fan? Us neither. Until last weekend, that is, when she Insta storied a quote from the comedian.

LOML is love of my life, ICYMI. It was cool to learn about her (kinda random) love for the actor, with the extra fun detail that her AIM screen name was jimcarreyfan42. And it’s really great that she’s talking about depression, something she’s been doing through her own struggles with mental health. But, when Jim Carrey replied to her post with more thoughts on the illness, we got a deeper look at the philosophies they’re promoting and… well, we aren’t fans.

Again, it’s great that people with as much reach as Ariana Grande and Jim Carrey are normalizing these kinds of discussions. But, parts of this convo are real red flags, particularly the idea that depression is a “spiritual exhaustion” that doesn’t need to be “analysed or medicated away.”

“Wouldn’t that be nice?” says Dr. Wei-Yi Song, the President of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, when we showed him the quote from Jeff Foster, the British author and “spiritual teacher” with zero training in psychiatry, who Carrey is apparently getting his info from.

Dr. Song, who has been practicing medicine for 20 years, points out that depression is a well-established and recognized medical condition that should not be trivialized. “In reality, it is one of the most destabilizing conditions, and in a lifetime one in five Canadians will have depression,” he says.

In spite of its prevalence, the stigma associated with depression—and taking medication to treat depression—is still very real. And when misinformation is perpetuated by a celebrity, it can feed that stigma. “It’s very dangerous, because the patients who are ashamed are probably less likely to seek help,” explains Dr. Song. “I have patients who will say ‘I don’t want to take medications, because I think I can be stronger, I just have to work harder.’ People can go on struggling for years because of the shame of getting treatment.”

And some people following the conversation on Twitter seem to recognize that danger, too.

Depression presents itself different ways for different people, but Dr. Song explains that the most common symptoms are sadness, demotivation, lack of energy, sleepless nights, no appetite, guilt about things you have and haven’t done and a diminished sense of self. “Once you establish it as a major depressive disorder, that’s what we treat it as: a medical condition.”

A lot of assessment and tests need to take place, then decisions are made about whether or not the patient needs to be on medication, what kind of medication they might need and what kind of psychotherapy they’ll need, too. “There’s a lot of evidence to show that combinations of medication and psychotherapy actually have a better outcome,” says Dr. Song. He also adds that not everyone needs to be on medication to treat their depression—but those people are usually dealing with mild to moderate depression.

So, let this be your daily reminder that everything on the internet needs to be taken with a grain of salt. That’s extra important when a medical condition is involved—which, again, is what depression is. Love us some Ari, but she, Carrey and that Jeff Foster guy are not doctors. And if you’re suffering from something as debilitating as depression, there is no shame in needing a doctor’s help to overcome it.

If you or someone you know is struggling, contact Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566, find a 24/7 Crisis Centre via the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention or reach out to a resource in your province:

British Columbia: Province-Wide Mental Health Support Line (24/7 hotline: 310-6789) | Alberta: Distress Centre Calgary (24/7 hotline: 403-266-4357) | Saskatchewan: Prince Albert Mobile Crisis Unit (24/7 hotline: 306-764-1011) | Manitoba: Manitoba Reason to Live (24/7 hotline: 1-877-435-7170) | Ontario: Connex Ontario (24/7 hotline: 1-866-531-2600) | Quebec: The Quebec Association for Suicide Prevention (24/7 hotline: 866-277-3553) | New Brunswick: Chimo Helpline (24/7 hotline: 450-4357) | Nova Scotia: Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team (24/7 hotline: 1-888-429-8167) | Prince Edward Island: Island Helpline (24/7 hotline: 1-800-218-2885) | Newfoundland: Mental Health Crisis Line (24/7 hotline: 1-888-737-4668) | Northwest Territories: NWT Help Line (24/7 hotline: 1-800-661-0844)


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