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December 2nd, 2009 by Dr. Phil

Facebook Strikes Again

ladyAtComputer1Just when I think I’ve heard it all, here comes the story of one Miss Nathalie Blanchard.

Miss Blanchard is a young Canadian woman who, for the past year, has been on sick leave from her job at an IBM office after being diagnosed with major depression.  According to reports, Miss Blanchard posted cheerful, smiling images of herself on Facebook, photos of her beach vacation and nights out with friends. She says her insurance benefits were cut off because the insurance company said her Facebook pictures indicated she was no longer depressed and was ready to return to work.

Really? Really? So we allegedly have diagnosticians working for insurance companies that can diagnose someone from some photos? Give me a break! How about asking for an updated evaluation? How about some good, old-fashioned due process? How about learning about depression and the process involved? The cyclical nature of the disorder?

I’m actually not surprised that an insurance company (and it’s probably not the only one) is reportedly watching its policy holders on Facebook, looking to see who might be fibbing about a particular illness. But is a social networking site really the place to make a medical diagnosis, especially when it comes to something like clinical depression? I get it if someone’s saying they have a bad back and can barely walk. If they then post dated photos or videos of themselves doing back flips, OK, that’s a problem. Mental illness is not so transparent.

Miss Blanchard is allegedly taking legal action against IBM and her health insurance company, arguing that the doctor who was treating her for depression recommended that she socialize with family and friends instead of staying at home and staring blankly at the wall. I’ll be very interested to see how that lawsuit turns out.

In the meantime, believe me when I go on one of my periodic rants about the stuff you stick up on your Facebook page. The Web is great, but it may also be a modern-day, real world counterpart of Orwell’s “Big Brother.”  Am I being paranoid or just realistic? Let me hear from you.

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126 Responses to “Facebook Strikes Again”

  1. Mary says:

    So Dr. Phil if you really are shocked at this type of situation when are YOU going to step up and let OUR government hear our plight? As a television talk show host YOU are known and respected all over the world. I too am disabled,TRAPPED in the system. While people on disability are allowed to work the system punishes us for trying by taking away benefits therefore making it unworthy to work. I would LOVE to go with you to speak with congress someday! As the most famous Mental Health Care professional there is YOU can make our lives worth living again!

  2. Debbie Aden says:

    This is the problem with our health care system in general: Insurance companies making medical decisions. The insurance company has every right to investigate her claim. But if her medical doctors say she is still under treatment and unable to work, they should have the final say. Regardless if the claim is for a mental or physical disability, the insurance company should NEVER have the right to decide a person’s medical condition.

  3. As per insurance claims blog since relative:

    VERY disheartened by Dr. Phil saying ON DECEMBER 3RD, 09, DR. PHIL SHOW the woman who slipped at zoo should watch where she’s going. That’s what claim rep said to me to cover for store where I slipped after third party led me on for months as if might pay AFTER I submitted all my bills. A feather in claim reps cap to cheat me and get a raise while doing it. The day my claim denied the claim rep hatefully said, “Watch where you’re going next time!” When I remembered I slipped on hay and asked if any hay in photos adjusters took, “Not enough hay for me to have slipped.”

    The truth of the matter IS there’s a competition between stores over displays at that chain and that display contest became more important than main function of store and customer safety. I took ballet and walked or exercised five days a week so am sure footed and an emergency person slipped too and had to grab ahold of me to not fall. So hay WAS slippery.

    I think EVERYONE who minimizes the devastation of in an instant after slipping and falling no longer being able to go on powerful, prayerful walks should have to not be allowed to exercise for months playing tennis or whatever exercise choice of theirs to see how utterly DEPRESSING it feels. Yet even then persons not injured could go on exercising after TIME OUT for being so insensitive to those who no longer can.

    I think shows that notify people they are being considered for a show like I was for medical, dental & visual “Ultimate Makeover” for The Doctors should NOT leave persons on hold for months and ONLY contact if definitely plan to use person. It is better to not hear back at all than to hear back and get hopes up for no reason like I have now THREE times.

    It is like a school yard bully laughing saying “WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING NEXT TIME!”

    It is common courtesy to warn persons…

    When I was four looking at porpoises at a place that had some sea life in captivity on a trip to Florida. There was just railing and I almost slipped under rail inside with porpoises and banged my chin holding on for dear life to pull myself back up. Parents grabbed me. When you go places you trust that they have made conditions safe. No, we didn’t sue.

    What is ironic I’M ALWAYS alerting store staff of things on floor if something I can’t pick up so nobody is hurt which consequently has protected MANY stores from being sued come to think of it. Not sometimes EVERY time I see an unsafe condition in a store.

    Dr. Phil has always been the rock star of psychiatry to me and I’ve mailed Robin, his and Jay’s books to Fort Sill Library on Fort Sill Army base in Lawton, to Canada, to Australia and all across USA to fellow Dr. Phil Website members as gifts. So I’m TOTALLY depressed by remark yesterday on Dr. Phil Show for woman who slipped at zoo to “watch where she’s going”? Are you kidding me?

    The zoo personnel KNOW how slippery it is up there and should provide a non-skid surface and clearly indicate slippery and remind persons when arriving and leaving who aren’t familiar with how slippery it is. Maybe even have aisle monitors. As far as store I shop at they shouldn’t have had entrance so cluttered with pumpkins and hay on ground. Albeit display was a very pretty “attractive nuisance”.

    I don’t know the particulars of the woman’s at the zoo slip and fall. Yet I DO know I LOST SEVEN THOUSAND I’D SAVED TO REPLACE A HOUSE I LOST IN 1994 DURING MULTIPLE FAMILY ILLNESS to pay to find out I was hurt. I ALREADY KNEW I WAS HURT. No, not have fixed because no doctor wanted to be involved because claim # I was given by third party wasn’t good to use at doctor and I’m uninsured. It isn’t like doctors or MRIs lie so insurance companies should just cover claim so doctor’s don’t turn away patients because don’t want to lose time going to court.

    Oh, and pharmaceuticals that lie about medications like VIOXX that killed my mother… I guess she should have watched where she’s was going and not gotten prescription filled. Even doctor of article quoted to mother is mad at pharmaceutical that led her on about VIOXX having a heart benefit. Doctors are furious at insurance companies too and even doctor that did article quoted to my mother by her doctor about heart benefit of VIOXX that was a hoax. And I told my mom to listen to her doctor “since he told her article said had a heart benefit” and a greedy pharmaceutical could care less VIOXX killed her and I live with the guilt of that every day.

    You know, stores and insurance companies et all just tell person flat out you have no intention of helping person instead of LYING for the appearances to crowd like you plan to be sure person is okay… lying “Call if you need anything”. Or third party giving some erroneous claim number that is just a hoax. Just tell the person while they’re lying there NEXT TIME WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING like the true bullies some places and insurance companies are if that’s how stores et al really feel. Show the insensitivity for what it is at get go. Because I’d still have $7,000 I saved for FIFTEEN YEARS to replace house I lost during multiple family illness… Dr. Phil… I sure wish I’d seen your show before I fell as I’d known nobody cared if I needed medical care like I already suspected.

    Words of wisdom from Dr. Phil to “Watch where your going” cause even if you ARE watching and slip and fall on unstable hay on ground and get injured… that’s what you’ll be told in the long run.

    And the lawyer that said to have one of those phones that takes photographs and to take photographs… DO THAT. For if store makes conditions safer might not admit weren’t when you were injured. Also, have a lawyer on speed dial to call from ER and don’t trust store since have shopped there. Don’t trust you’ll hear back about your Ultimate Makeover if you receive an email from Dr. Phil Show, like I have for over a year, because I never did. Yes, someone(s) will and God Bless Them yet most don’t. And yet I still hope I do since my last hope.

    That “call if you need anything” when you get hurt at store where I did is just for appearances and really means I hope you don’t call and instead true sentiments are what Dr. Phil said, “Watch where you are going next time!” Don’t get your hopes up so you don’t get utterly DEPRESSED when you learn were only glimmers of false hope. (Scratch that… for when I don’t lose hope then I always cope so I guess I’m just feeling a little hopeless now… so pray for me please. Thank you. God Bless Y’all too.


  4. Josee MacPhee says:

    The only way to try to overcome depression is to try change your way of thinking. I’ve overcome depression but certainly didn’t do it by sitting at home staring at a television or computer screen. I started going to the gym, having fun with friends and living life again. Now after a few weeks of this, there is no way that the depression is completely gone. It’s certainly a process to get over depression. I also had the help of medication. By the time I no longer felt depressed and was no longer taking medication, it was nearly a year after the diagnosis. But had you seen a few pictures of periods during the time, I might not have looked depressed. But there is no way a picture could tell a doctor the depression was still there or not. This is simply an insurance company trying to get out of paying out benefits. Nothing new there…that’s what insurance companies do! It’s typucal!

  5. Josee MacPhee says:

    The only way to try to overcome depression is to try change your way of thinking. I’ve overcome depression but certainly didn’t do it by sitting at home staring at a television or computer screen. I started going to the gym, having fun with friends and living life again. Now after a few weeks of this, there is no way that the depression is completely gone. It’s certainly a process to get over depression. I also had the help of medication. By the time I no longer felt depressed and was no longer taking medication, it was nearly a year after the diagnosis. But had you seen a few pictures of periods during the time, I might not have looked depressed. But there is no way a picture could tell a doctor the depression was still there or not. This is simply an insurance company trying to get out of paying out benefits. Nothing new there…that’s what insurance companies do! It’s typical!

  6. Wolfie says:

    You think this is bad? Wait until the Obama thugs get ahold of ALL of our information from Facebook pages and Tweeter accounts to our medical records, credit card receipts and job, voting, shopping, internet search histories, compiles them all in one place and decides what we can and cannot have, do, be or say based on “the evidence” against us.

    Do you honestly know a single person who hasn’t said something dumb on Facebook, lied to their boss, bought too much beer, meat or sweets in one month, voiced a politically incorrect opinion, accidentally clicked on the wrong link or made some other stupid mistake?

    If this is the basis on which our care, treatment and benefits are to be judged or doled out by the powers that be, kiss your butt good-bye because we are all screwed,

  7. Laura says:

    When my Aunts son first went on face book I was one of his “friends” and read a post where one of his college friends warned that the teachers at the college were monitoring the students sites! I reminded them that it was a public forum and if there was anything that they did not want teachers, parents, employers (present and future) and potential in-laws to see they should not post it! When I went online again the next day I was no longer one of my cousins friends! He had blocked me! Oh well….try to be helpful and see what you get!

  8. Chrys says:

    You are very realistic. It isn’t just insurance companies doing this.

    As far as the insurance companies go they are out of control these days. They are constantly getting in the way of the doctor/patient relationship. This needs to stop. The physician should be the ultimate authority on the needs of their patients. Insurance companies deny things that will improve productivity of portions of our society and buck the physician at every turn. We need to be monitoring THEM.

  9. Carol says:

    I have never heard such a thing in my entire life you are allowed to laugh even if you are depressed no matter who you are.

    This insurance company should lose their licence to practice in any state they don’t have a right to decide who should not be allowed to laugh and that is what they are doing I hope she gets her coverage back.


  10. Linda says:

    When I was depressed I didn’t advertise that fact to people because the last thing I wanted was a bunch of well meaning people giving me sympathy or people tiptoeing around me afraid and not knowing how to talk to me.

    Additionally my yearly trip to the beach was indeed uplifting. I could hear God in the waves when He seemed silent to me so much of the time during my depression. I DID smile while I was there. I felt NORMAL for a week. I knew it was possible to find the former me through the fog. This lady receivied good advice – too bad her insurance company is run by monsters.

  11. vince says:

    i agree that just cause a person shows a happy picture on facebook that dont mean there not depressed, what i am trying to figure out is why in the hell i cant take a damn picture of my self and JUST MAIL IT TO A DAMN DOCTOR AND GET CURED TOO hahahahaha that would save a hell of alot of running around and money coulr facebook be the health care plan pres Obama needs to really look into? hell doc it could be the wave of the feture of all health care hahahaha, and just think we wont have to leave ther comfornts of our home to get healed no more, wow i like that idea cause i hate going to a doctor for any reason.

  12. Lois Kane says:

    how dumb do you have to be to plaster photos of yourself on facebook when you are out on any kind of disability. i’m sure they figure if she’s well enough to be out & about, she might as well be at work……………maybe it is just work that’s depressing her!!

  13. Matt says:

    They could do a diagnosis by looking at the time stamp of the photos.

  14. Melissa says:

    I have suffered from major depression since I was a teenager. I’ve lost jobs, had trouble at school, lost friends, and it contributed greatly to the end of my marriage. All of my doctors have told me that the worst thing I could do is stay at home and isolate, which is what I normally did during really bad spells. One landed me in a psych hospital where they taught me the importance of getting out of the house, socializing, making plans, even dancing and playing volleyball. Learning those skills helped me go through separation from my husband, foreclosure of my house and losing another job without falling into the pit. If they’re looking over her Facebook page, they should be worried if they DIDN’T see her socializing. That might indicate she wasn’t getting the help she needed. I made a lot of friends in the hospital, and I get most worried about them when I don’t see frequent updates or pictures of their families. Then I know it’s time to reach out to them and make sure they’re ok. Facebook, and the internet in general, can be an incredible asset to people with mental illness, but it is NOT a diagnostic tool.

  15. Marina says:

    Well, as I was reading through some of the posts, I really can see both sides. On the one hand, depression is serious and I suppose the prescription of getting out and socializing is good for getting past depression.

    Unfortunately, all those social media things do seem to be hindering and taking the personality out of all of us! And yes, we do need to be careful of what we post and how it’s portrayed. Things can be taken out of context.

    I also understand, however, that many people do tend to take advantage of the system and what is available to help them. I guess my question and one that we should all ask is as follows:

    Does this woman make a habit of socializing often? Or was this a one time or rare occasion. If it was/is the previous, well then, perhaps she’s well enough to return to work and still socialize while being treated for her depression. If it were the latter and this is a rare event, then this might be a great step to help her and yes, the insurance company acted hastily.

    It’s not necessarily the fault of the insurance company-it’s the fault of those in power. We, as a society, have decided to hire incompetent and ingnorant folks who can barely read, write or have barely passed high school. Then they are given scripts and not taught to think logically. Therefore, when these issues arise, these folks only report what they were taught. When you ask them questions, their replies are almost always-I don’t know-I just do what I am told.

    How do we solve this problem? Take back our youth, go back to training them and teaching them. Ask questions that make them think…don’t just dictate. Let’s become human again! Pay people what the jobs are worth, let young ones come up through the ranks so they can learn and let’s get back on track!

  16. Patrick Mahoney says:

    I am also disabled, not mentaly but physicaly. I had been hospitalized and prescribed Methadone and am on managed pain care with no real cure. Last year I had to see a phsycologist for Social Security evaluation. Which he stated that I was mentaly stable with no issues and that I looked to him that I had no physical issues, therefore with his recomendations Social Security denied my benefits. I have seen two different specialists and still they said no. I then hired an attorney, then a few months later I saw a regular doctor for a whole 15 minutes which stated that I am disabled. After all of this bull I was told I am now disabled enough to be considered permanetly disabled unable to work for the rest of my life. I am able to do some work just not physical labor, and I want to do something part time but not sure how to go about it.

  17. TexasGirl says:

    I’ve actually been seen smiling on the same day I have attempted suicide. Sounds crazy, but believe me, I kept a smiling face many times when on the inside I felt like dying.

  18. Chris says:

    Let me give you a whole new definition if RUDE! My mother in law (from hell) has just recently “claimed” to have accepted our adopted son. She in the past did not believe in adoption as she felt mothers should not give up their children and she wanted a grandchild of her “own”.

    She recently sent the ENTIRE family on both sides a copy of her genealogy research and listed our sons parents with his birth parents names and list my husband and I as having “no children”.

    I have never had a dagger in my heart like this before. It took me 2 days to get out of bed just to make it to the Dr. to ask him to medicate me to get through the holidays. I have NEVER been on medication in my life. I am so not dealing well with any of this:(

  19. april says:

    Insurance companies NEED to be REGULATED!! My uncle is a lawyer AGAINST insurance companies in cases like this one, & believe me that insurance companies do this ALL THE TIME! All they’re in business for is to take your premiums & deny your claims – how else would they make money?? Our country is so focused on money & profit, even our government, that’s why no one will do anything to stop this from happening. People in our government benefit financially from insurance companies, so why would they want to put these companies out of business?? It’s a viscious cycle that needs to end!!!

  20. Joyce says:

    Patrick you so hit the nail on the head,,, Back in 1998 I was diagnosed with Fibromylgia, didnt have any other physical problems at the time but the pain was horrible and I filed disability. I filed for physical disability not mental, yet they too sent me to a mental health dr. They got the report back from him and then denied me based on a mental evaluation. He found that even though I was depressed I could work. I wasnt filing for mental healt issues…. I got a part time job and kept on trying for the disability… However I was denied over and over. Then in 99 I finally got a full time job that I loved and could do at the time( even though at times it was very painful). I worked for the next ten yrs, even though since then I have been diagnosed with Degenerative Disk Disease, Carpel tunell in both wrists, Arthritis in my neck, tendonitis in right shoulder and some mystery pain in my upper side (drs cant figure out what it is) and recently had to quit my job due to stress, and the incredible mounting pain, and depression. I filed disability once again only to be told I need one more work credit to even qualify for benefits, not that I would be guarenteed to get it.
    It takes a miracle for those of us that really need it to get it, yet I know people that are on it and still work under the table, meaning they work and get paid cash so it cant be traced.
    Still have a hard time figuring out why, when you file for physical disabilities they send you to a mental health professional instead of a medical dr. At this point I dont qualify for disability due to one credit, before it was because I was too young and hadnt worked enough.

  21. RDMyers says:

    It is impossible to look at a picture and tell someone is suffering from depression. In fact, at times, it’s hard to look at a person and see. Some of us are quite good at ‘masking’ our depression and give off the illusion everything is fine. I know because I still have to wear a ‘mask’ although I have been diagnosed with major depression.

  22. Diane Russo says:

    I had my first bout of depression during Katrina. I live in a major city in the North East and all of our city resources went to the victims who were transported up here from New Orleans. I couldnt qualify for any help and when I went to the local hospital the Intake counselor told me the only thing that was wrong with me was that I was fat and overweight. I was driven to actually swallowing a bottle of pills before I could get the help I needed because otherwise, I couldn’t get the help that I knew I needed. It wasn’t enough for them to hear that I was just depressed. I had to actually hurt myself before anything could be done. That makes me angry.

  23. Gail says:

    Working in the insurance industry (injury claims) for more than 20 years, I can’t let this one go without saying that this type of situation is happening because there are so many people making false and/or exaggerated claims to their insurance companies. Unfortunately, those that submit false claims make it harder for those who have legitimate claims. It gets difficult to know who is telling the truth and who is not. The shame of it is that all of us pay the price of those falsely submitted claims. It comes back to us all in the premiums that insurers are forced to charge to cover the rising cost of claims. I urge anyone who knows of persons claiming a false injury/condition to report the person to the applicable insurance company. Don’t be a party to fraud. I’m not suggesting that this lady’s claim is fraudulent but that she may be a victim of the rise in fraudulent claim submissions, just like the rest of the premium payers. Psychological issues are much more difficult to adjudicate and my personal opinion is that we must rely on the expert opinions of persons trained in the discipline.

  24. Andrea says:

    I do think that the insurance company using photos of this woman smiling as evidence that she’s over her depression is pathetic. But most of the information that slips out on facebook (photos, statuses, updates, etc.) can be avoided by simply changing your profile to private, and only allowing your friends to view that information. I’m not really sure why you would want strangers to see what you’re doing or where you hang out anyway. And now with potential employers searching applicant’s facebook, and myspace accounts to see how you handle yourself outside of work is even more reason to set everything to private.

  25. Cinnamon says:

    I agree that we must watch what we post on facebook. I think twice about my impulsive status update tendencies when I remember that my friends’ mothers are on my friends list not to mention potential business contacts. I think that it is deplorable to punish this woman for posting happy pics. I suffer from depressive symptoms but fb daily to help myself not feel so isolated. I also don’t want the world to know all of my personal business all of the time so why would I or she post that she is depressed? How many people have an equal amt of sad pics as they do happy pics on their social networking pages? Shame on this insurance company.

  26. Jana says:

    First of all, the insurance companies don’t have the right to make medical decisions.

    How about the deaths that have occured since insurance companies took the diagnosis out of the doctors hands?

    The doctors need to take control of this situation for Everyone’s sake.

  27. Leonie says:

    There are privacy controls on Facebook. If you don’t want uninvited people looking at your page make it private so only your friends can view it. Think about who you choose to add as a friend. I don’t add people unless I know who they are. If you link up to your work network think about the pics & comments you post. It’s not that hard really.

  28. Jennifer says:

    I’m being medicated for depression after losing several family & friends in very tragic accidents and two in a horrible murder – within 2 years time. I don’t like taking the medication because I feel as if I don’t control what is going on. However, when trying to take myself off of it (even slowly)… it’s a horrible feeling. So I’ve learned the hard way that I actually need it to feel balanced.
    There are days that I don’t feel like my standard prescription is enough, but I just try to bear with it. ANYTHING is better than the dark place I knew so well for two years. I don’t even know who ‘that person’ was or much of what happened in that time frame; it’s almost like having amnesia. I feel for anyone TRULY suffering from it as there is a difference between depression and sadness. It’s physically demanding and wore me down completely (ended up in ICU for two weeks)… it still has the same effect, but much less now that I’m being treated for it. As much as I hate to admit to it I don’t forsee me ever being off of the medication – the imbalance was just too severe. I tell everyone it’s like a 12 step program… you have to work at it on a day-by-day basis and hope that with medication and treatment you will have a good day.

    As far as her smiling in pictures… if she found a reason to smile for if only a moment that should be their only concern. At least she’s here, she’s alive and she had a moment of happiness. That’s what those of us who are suffering from depression strive for… and I find a 100 reasons to smile now.

  29. The Messiah says:

    Hehe social internet sites strikes again. Yeah I suppose the government is pretty dumb. The reason why I say this is becuase they probably know jack about its citizens. Also Dr. Phil I don’t think you’re being paranoid. I think with ‘Big Brother’ is trying to take our freedoms and the stuff relating to our freedom. I kinda think that our government is paranoid and full of bullcrap. I may seem a little crazy sometimes and have serious anger issues but I am pretty sure that I know more about the people in this world than some realize. I see things that not many people see because I am very different from many people. Trust me when I say this I can do things that few people can do because I am that awesome. Hoorah

  30. sdaarud says:

    I agree with Dr. Phil. Depression is not transparent and who wants to see depressed, sad people when they open up a page, even if that person is? I wouldn’t post that on my own page, so why should we think this person can’t be depressed, look at her smiling. I think some people will do anything to keep the money in their pocket, especially insurance agencies.

  31. Jennifer says:

    Just thought I would throw my two cents worth in. I am currently 37 years old. When I was at University, some 13 years ago. I was studying law, second in my class, president of my law student’s society, actively involved in mooting, was been recruited by many big name firms and obviously having a “wonderful” life. At least, that is what someone looking in would see. I wanted them to see that. In reality, I was depressed, suicidal, and spent most of my time in bathrooms crying. I attempted suicide two weeks short of my graduation. My point…what a person puts out to the world, whether it be on facebook or wherever may have little or no resemblence to what is really going on in their life. It is what you want people to think, at least this was the case for me. I am also happy to report, whilst no longer a lawyer (I did practice for six years but had to give up when I had a disabled daughter) I am a mother of a beautiful little girl and married to a lovely husband. (And this is the TRUTH not what I want to portray) So to anyone who needs to get help please do before you take the step that you can’t take back.

  32. Kym says:

    what is the difference between having a chemical imbalance in the brain, and having an imbalance in another area of the body, which makes one ‘mental’ and one ‘physical’?
    If one is able to remove the brain, completely from the ‘physical’ body, and continue to live, then I would agree that the brain is less physical than the heart, lungs, thyroid, pancreas, and ovaries. Along with every other ‘physical’ part of the body.
    Hormones can effect behavior as much as any type of brain sickness, yet we consider hormones to be physical, while those chemicals occurring within the brain are ‘tagged’ with the already dreadful stigma of differing from any other illness, by being referred to as ‘mental’.
    They are ‘all’ very physical illnesses. Stop the Stigma.

  33. vince says:

    well can you give the name of that ins company? im feeling a bit sick and would love to send them a pic of me so they can tell me whats wrong with me and save me a trip to a doctor! hell it would be a cheap way out for me hahahahaha. ohhh yeahhhhhh im serious ppl hahahahah.

  34. Crystal says:

    I worked for several insurance companies during the twenty some odd years I was employed. I can assure you they are in the business to make money to fatten the wallets of the CEO’s and CFO’s and not the clients they insure. They will stoop to any means to reduce the amount of time you are paid for a disability. I was myself disabled in 2007 and was put thru pure hell to get the disability payments that were due me. I had a well respected Orthopedic surgeon (who happens to be in the top 8 nationwide) state I was disabled and not ready to return to work after a total knee replacement. The disability company overrode his decision and cancelled my disability payments. After being on disability there is hardly funds to obtain a lawyer and fight these corporate giants. I asked the disability caseworker how the decision was made to cancel my disability and who made the decision. She stated she reviewed the medical records and letters from my doctor and felt that I was able to return to work. I asked if she was a doctor I was told she was not a doctor or a nurse but a medical case worker. I found out she has no medical background and no medical training. She is paid by the insurance company to approve or deny disability continuance based on her job experience… am I the only one who thinks this is total rubbish !!!!!

  35. geri says:

    The insurance company was way out of line. Depression is often hidden by those who feel it. I have suffered from major depression and I’ve put on a happy face before when i really felt very sad inside. I still do this. When you don’t try and hide it a little nobody can stand being around you because you bring them down, and being lonely makes it even harder to deal with. I also think the whole purpose of taking a leave of absence is to get better and not just sit around and wallow in self pity. The fact that she makes the effort to be with people means she is trying to get better and if she is authentically having a good time then maybe she is getting better. I hate insurance fraud as much as anyone else but Dr. Phil is right that they were out of line. Their pulling the plug on her coverage is almost fraud in and of itself. They require documents to support her claim, where are their documents supporting their reason for pulling it? A few pictures is the equivalent of me walking in and saying I’ve diagnosed myself, and I highly doubt they’d go for that.

  36. Nancy says:

    As one who suffers from chronic treatment- resistant depression, I have learned over a lifetime that no one wants to be around me in my “real” state of mind (sad and pessimistic). Therefore I use enormous amounts of energy to present myself as a happy fun-loving woman with a “deeply spiritual side”. Though I am a person of deep faith, the “deeply spiritual” side of me that I show is often a facade which deep down is in reality the sadness that never truly goes away. The truth is, there is stigma everywhere, and that is why no one really knows battle I face every day. If I let others see that, they don’t want to be around me. As well as only allowing my “accepted” friends and family on my Facebook page, I present the “happy-face” of Nancy. Any sad messages I post are to a certain person to whom I choose to post it, not to my “status” or Wall. When I have a great experience and share it on FB, it is a rare gift, and I should be able to share that without fear of reprisal, ie. being accused of “faking” my depression. I should add that I work in the mental health system in a challenging and rewarding profession. I am under the care of a colleague who is a psychiatrist, and will have to take lots of meds for the rest of my life, in order to get out of bed and go to work everyday to help those who are more seriously ill than I. I have had to take short term medical leaves, but refuse to go on long term disability as long as possible. It is a daily struggle to wind myself up however to do my job with excellence, and every day I go home exhausted. If I have a bit of fun, go on a trip, or am able to laugh and dance occasionally, it is something to celebrate and I for sure want to share the experience on FB.
    I am certain however, that if I disclosed my chronic depression at a job interview or to an occupational nurse, that I would not have the job I do. Even mental health professions do not want to hire someone with a mental health disorder, even one that is treated. They talk about reducing stigma in the workplace, but it is still a reality I have to be very careful of.

  37. Dianne says:

    Insurance companies are in business to make money and to hell with the people they are supposed to protect. While, I’m sure, there are people out there who try to scam the system, I think that the vast majority of people who apply for benefits, for whatever reason, deserve them.
    I, too, was given a hard time when I applied for “covered” benefits. Several years ago, I lost quite a lot of weight. Of course, all that eatra skin went south and just hung there creating all sorts of problems. I am also a breast cancer survivor, I was disfigured from the surgery. Both procedures were denied as they were “cosmetic procedures”. On appeal, one procedure was approved, the other was not. I could have pursued it further, but chose not to.
    With regard to FB or any other social networking site, I truely believe that they are the eyes and ears of “Big Brother”. It’s scary to think of how many people are able to view your posts, whether or not they’re authorized to do so.
    Many years ago, when I was in school, an instructor said…”Never share anything with anybody that you wouldn’t want to hear discussed at Friendly’s” (a local restaurant). I have followed that advice for many years.

  38. Sherry Nowland says:

    A picture may be worth a thousand words, but one of those words when it comes to depression, is NoT “HEALED”. I have been battling depression since I was about 4 years old, as an adult was diagnosed as bipolar2. I can fake a smile for a picture, and try to keep myself together for a couple of hours while I’m in front of other people, but on the inside I am being tormented. The only way I’m able to keep it together for that long is through medication. It burns me up, how the world judges us by how we look on the outside. I cant tell you how many times, including this Christmas, I have sat in front of my husbands family opening gifts and smiling so I don’t ruin everyone else’s Christmas, then as soon as we get in the car and back out of the driveway I fall apart. If the lady on facebook is battling depression and was able to get herself dressed and get outside and see the sunshine, then good for her! But that doesn’t mean she didn’t cry herself to sleep that night, or even while sitting on the beach have thoughts of just walking to the pier and taking a dive to end it all. So don’t judge her for her smiling picture.

  39. FullMetalJ says:

    One of the many reasons I deactivated my FB account…Too many people all up in each other’s business. Why would I want to ‘e-poke’ someone I haven’t seen in 15 years and despised for even longer…Maybe if there was an ‘e-maim’ or ‘take a slice at with a rusty tuna can lid’ app I may be more interested…

  40. CanadianKelly says:

    Hi Dr. Phil.

    First. Let me say – huge fan! Love the show – and am starting my bachelors degree in Physcology in the fall of 2010 because of your inspiration!!!

    Ive known this story since the end of November and I am shocked to find it on the Dr. Phil show. I think its a great thing to have it on your show – for one – it proves to the world that depression is not a physical illness – its mental and it is a whole lot harder than learning to just smile more often or “get over it” ….. it is HUGELY under rated and un accepted.

    I would like to thank you for posting this – I too, have been on sick leave from work since October 2009 – and was afraid to post my vacation pictures or even tell anyone except my family that i went away for some rest and relaxation! This makes me beleive that there is change happening with our medical world – and i thank you – Dr . Phil for heading it up.

    Totaly appreciative of what you do everyday to change the face of physcology!!!

  41. Natalie says:

    Pictures are worth a 1000 words..
    Theres always a story behind it..

  42. Jenn says:

    I, too, am I Canadian citizen, and must add that this kind of activity also takes place when you are dealing with publicly funded coverage such as Workers’ Compensation or Employment Insurance Benefits. If you ever get hurt on the job OR laid off, delete your social networking accounts…..it is becoming a common practice for officials to surf the net and take note of times that a user who is collecting EI benefits is visiting their Facebook page. You were filling out a quiz or writing on a friend’s wall at 11 a.m. ? You are therefore not actively pursuing new employment, which is cause for termination of benefits. Told by your doctor that you must stay in bed for 10 days following an on-the-job injury and take to the prone position with a laptop to “wall chat” with friends and family ? WCB may tell you they are overruling your doc’s recommendations & cutting you off because you are obviously capable of working…..

    Yes, Big Brother IS watching…..and you are often paying his wages with YOUR taxes :)

  43. Linda says:

    You know what Dr. Phil, I’m sad to say I’m not surprised. At my last work we had to sign a paper promising not to say anything bad about our workplace on any social networking site, and a co-worker was let go for having mentioned what a bad day he’d had at work. Granted he probably didn’t put it in those words exactly, I don’t actually know which words he used. Cellphones were also banned on the peremisis after another co-worker posted pictures on Facebook, taken in the staff room.
    I don’t know if this is the norm today but I have never seen it before.
    However, the banning of recording equipment in the workplace didn’t stop a nasty co-worker filming and photographing me in secret and I have since quit that job. I was being bullied by my manager anyway and have since quitting completely stopped having my multiple-a-day panick attacks, which is good.

  44. Rita says:

    Why do we even have doctors?
    As long as we have a camera and facebook… do we really need anything else?
    If you feel sick one day.. Just tell your boss to take a look at your facebook picture…
    What is wrong with certain people???

  45. Natalie says:

    Oh wow…I hope she wins. I had to take off work for a month for depression. Is she supposed to lay there and be miserable, or try and get better? Of course people smile and laugh even if they are depressed! We aren’t DEAD, but depressed! I can’t believe this. Also agree with Dr. Phil, if you’re going to put yourself in a public forum, make your page private, or use a fake name! EVERYONE knows about facebook. It can be ultra private so…use that. I haaaate insurance companies!

  46. Berra says:

    Is it so bad to kick on people that´s already lying down? Of course it is! Here in Sweden it´s just the same – insurance companies is looking for the smallest crack and pushes you towards it, whether you want it or not. If there was a magic button to push so every part-time worker could work full time again, they´d be the first one to push it.
    And while I´m at it, I wish to send a big hug to my sister in Fairfax CA!

  47. upset momma says:

    so they’re saying that we should judge people by the way they look? right, so just because someone is smiling doesn’t mean that they don’t suffer on the inside and is trying to get on with thier life because they still have to live with their disabilities rather they’re smiling or not. I want to know who this person is saying this because I would like to have a word or two with them. If they’re saying that someone is well or not simply by the way they’re looking in a picture than a lot of people that commit crimes would never be expected of them, correct. what an insult. that person should be ashamed of theirself.

  48. Dr Suz says:

    As a seasoned psychologist in private practice, I have seen an astonishing increase in the frequency of Facebook in the therapy room. It is fun, connecting, and beneficial in many ways. It also can be hurtful, misunderstood, and too raw. Readers of this blog might be interested in the “Are You a Facebook Family?” posting at http://parenting20-somethings.blogspot.com. We are all challenged to use these new parts of life with good judgment and boundaries.

  49. Sarah says:

    I just have to say that if everyone wasn’t so greedy, this wouldn’t happen. All anyone ever thinks about is money. I do understand that you have to have it to survive, but everyone always has to have more. I think that these companies are just dying to find ways to not have to pay people. I myself have dealt with depression and the only thing that helped was forcing myself to go out and do things again. Nobody wants to show that they are depressed and clearly you can’t base what is going on in someone else’s head just by looking at them. If this happened to me, I would be infuriated. These people don’t know me by looking at a picture and they aren’t right for even thinking so. I don’t blame this woman for trying to do something about it.

  50. Grammy says:

    Facebook is a very public forum — don’t put anything on there that you would mind anyone — that means anyone — seeing.

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