Anderson Cooper Confronts Marianne Williamson For Calling Depression A "Scam"

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
On Thursday, CNN's Anderson Cooper challenged Democratic presidential candidate and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson about calling clinical depression “a scam” in the past. She apologized for the “scam” statement, but defended herself when he asked questions about controversial statements she made about antidepressants.
Williamson — who's made a splash at the debates for laying out a plan for reparations and running on a platform of love — faced tough questions from Cooper on his show, Anderson Cooper 360°.
“You’ve often brought up very legitimate concerns about doctors overprescribing antidepressants and other drugs,” Cooper said. “I’ve never heard you express, though, real concern for the stigma surrounding depression. I know there’s some people who say you’re actually contributing to that stigma... You’ve used the words “numb” or “mask" [about antidepressants]."
Williamson was quick to defend herself, and said, "I think that would be a not good message and I think I've never given that message... That's just never the way I've spoken and it is a complete mischaracterization of my commentary."
Cooper pointed out that telling a seriously depressed person that antidepressants could make them numb would not be a good message, and noted that, if anything, it's the depression itself
that's numbing. When she pushed back, he brought receipts. He brought up a 2013 tweet, in which Williamson wrote: “Feds say 1 in 10 Americans on anti-depressants. Not a good sign. This is not a time in American history for any of us to be numbing our pain. [sic]”
Cooper also pressed her on her previous comment calling depression a "scam" on a podcast, for which she apologized, and added it was a "a glib comment" and "wrong to say." On the Friday morning after the show, Williamson tweeted: “I’m pro medicine. I’m pro science. I’ve never told anyone not to take medicine.”
Antidepressants are prescribed, and often combined with therapy, to manage depression, which is a common condition that impacts millions of people every year, according to the American Addiction Centers. The World Health Organization notes that antidepressants are one means of treating depression, among many other options, such as structured therapy and behavioral actions and changes. Harvard Health says that antidepressants work by regulating mood by targeting specific messaging systems in your brain. They are among the most prescribed medicines in America, but ultimately treatment for depression varies in effectiveness depending on the individual. “We can't predict exactly how someone will respond to treatment because we're all biologically different," Dr. Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, told Harvard Health. "Medicine is only one tool. Psychotherapy can help you examine the patterns in life that may be making you feel down. And don't forget about the benefits of exercise, a balanced diet, and engaging in meaningful activities. They fight depression."
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.

More from Wellness

R29 Original Series