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September 10, 2017

Andrew Tate tweets on depression provoke heavy backlash, debate

'Toxically masculine' kick boxer goes on offensive about mental health

Depression Social Media
091017_TateTwitter @Cobratate/Twitter

Andrew Tate.

A dismissive tweetstorm from American-British kickboxer Andrew Tate, magnified over the course of the weekend, has opened the floodgates to a social media debate about depression, its root causes and the casual harm done by those who deny it's a serious illness.

The 30-year-old fighter, by no means a mental health professional, fired off a tweet effectively minimizing depression as a lazy decision not to exert effort toward positive life change. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. 

In the days that followed Tate's tweet, some critics jumped to scold him for shaming those who suffer from depression. Others discredited his viewpoint as an ignorant denial of science and clinical experience. The charge was led by author J.K. Rowling and comedian Patton Oswalt.

Tate, unfazed by the response, refused to back down from his argument in subsequent tweets (and there are many of them, if you're inclined to explore this further). He pointed to numerous supporters who said they either agreed with him or overcame depression by adopting his outlook. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Major Depressive Disorder affects more than 16.1 million U.S. adults, or about 6.7 percent of the population over the age of 18 in any given year. The biological basis of the condition is often impacted and compounded by multiple social and relational forces. 

Much of the criticism against Tate came as a disturbed response to his vitriolic, "red pill" stance that depression boils down entirely to weakness. Would anyone disagree that taking an active approach to the treatment of depression (whether it's chronic or episodic) is a necessary personal commitment? 

Some of the most insightful and level-headed responses came from Zelda Williams, daughter of the late actor Robin Williams, who took his life in 2014 after struggling with depression for many years.

And that's probably the best takeaway here: positive affirmation doesn't count among the low, low arts of trolling. 

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