60 Comments to
Woman Loses Sick-Leave Benefits for Depression Thanks to Facebook Pics

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  1. just wondering…. when people say ‘published on her private facebook profile’… what is the level of privacy? my profile is locked down completely, you can’t even ask to be my friend without emailing me first. i untag myself in all pictures. so i am wondering how anyone can have access to these pictures?

  2. Now we know who’s crazy around here, and it’s not Ms. Blanchard. It’s the folks at the insurance company who need to be put in straitjackets and locked up.

    I speak as one who knows all too well the pain of medical depression AND that I can LOOK good in public; but when I’m home it can be an entirely different matter.

  3. Question, that’s a great question. The CBC article says that “only people she approves can look at what she posts”, so I suspect that she simply has the standard, private profile that only people she adds as a friend can view. Of course, depending on what type of applications she has, that might open a back door to information leaking out. Virtually any application requires you to click “okay!” to allow the developers to access your personal info.

    Or, she might not have certain photo albums marked for friends only. Perhaps she left them viewable to particular network (like her hometown or region). Sure, securing your personal information is important — but even if she’d made the photos public intentionally, the big question remains about what information you can extract from those photos.

  4. From the CBC article: “Manulife wouldn’t comment on Blanchard’s case, but in a written statement sent to CBC News, the insurer said: ‘We would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook.'”

    Really? So…what? What does that mean? They had some team of ninja psychiatrists spy on her and report back to the insurance company that she was no longer depressed? Because she obviously had no idea it was going on and, you know, SURELY the insurance company didn’t make the diagnosis itself…


    From the CBC article: “Insurance companies must weigh information found on such sites, said Claude Distasio, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association.”

    “Must”? Why? Since when did social networking sites or anything anyone posts on them become so reliable? I have very few pictures of myself on Facebook, but those I do have show me somewhere having fun (at a concert, or with my beau) or are just random shots I’ve used photo imaging tools to play around with when I was bored – NONE of them would be reliable examples of what was going on with my mental health overall. Or at any time, really. Furthermore, there are times when I’ll be in a not-so-great mood and post “happy” things – or refrain from posting altogether – simply because I don’t want family members or friends to be concerned. Or simply because I want some privacy.

    Regardless of whether or not this woman is still depressed, this insurance company shouldn’t have this kind of authority. If it truly suspected she was well (and wasn’t just trying to save itself a few bucks), you’d think the next step would involve a trained professional.

    Thanks for helping shine some light on this situation, Summer.

  5. I would argue that whether or not someone who can travel to sunny locales, celebrate birthdays and go to bars to watch half-naked men dance suffers from depression of any kind, they clearly do *not* suffer from debilitating depression that prohibits them from work and entitles them to fully paid leave benefits.

    Don’t get to have it both ways.

    I work with too many truly impaired individuals who bust their buns to be productive, regardless of their degree of physical or mental health disability. And then I see people who don’t want to work exaggerating their conditions to keep the checks rolling in. If you can vacation, celebrate AND bar hop, you can contribute to your own cost on this planet.

    One smile at a warm sunny vacation spot doesn’t prove your depression is cured, but keep adding the pictures on and it sure proves that you can get out and about.

  6. Thinking Thoughts, you are so so very wrong. I’ve recently recovered from a bout of depression that, while I could function on a “get out of bed, have a shower, eat breakfast, leave the house” level, I was too easily confused, distracted and discouraged to be any damn good at my job. I busted my buns (as you put it) to not let my mental state affect my job performance, but it didn’t work. I took a month off, and it turned out to be just what I needed. I feel like a different person now. If I hadn’t been able to “have it both ways”, I would likely be unemployed by now. And still severely depressed.

  7. Senator/Dr. Bill Frist claimed to know Terri Schiavo had brain function from looking at a video of her.

    Insurance companies are just as arrogant looking at photographs.

    Love the ninja psychiatrist comment. Bravo.

  8. To Micheleh: I think a month to recover from a severe depression is a reasonable amount of time, in fact I think it’s an amazing amount of time, for depression so severe you couldn’t function at your job.

    But the article says, “recently, the monthly checks stopped coming,” which communicated a prolonged period of time.

    And you don’t mention that you vacationed, partied and bar hopped while recovering – and if you did, I bet that was a sign to you that you were nearing a state of good function.

    Taking a month to diligently treat a serious illness isn’t “having it both ways.” Going on long term disability but then engaging in activity that clearly denotes function and community access is.

  9. she’s really thin. maybe she doesn’t eat enough, which wouldnt help with depression. that’s all i get from the picture. i took a sunny vacation when i was depressed and hated every second of it. at that time i was depressed from circumstances. the only thing good about that vacation was that it ended.

    one concern with depression is other people having to deal with your crap. friends or coworkers, who would you rather feel guilty around? and not working might contribute to feeling worthless. worrying about losing your job sound familiar?

    i had a relatively short major depressive episode once. could i have worked through it? seems worth a shot.

    i’m not sure what a diagnosis of major depression would be like, but this lady was given a couple months of paid time off, and if her therapy didn’t work then i would also be curious. given a competent doctor, several months, and a patient who follows instructions, shouldnt there be /some/ recovery?

  10. A problem with theinsurance comapnies is that those who make the decisions about what is seriously ill and what isn’t are not particulary well trained and have, deliberately no contact with the person involved. If a psychologist had diagnosed a person from the same information, then that would be a grounds for malpractice. No arguements.
    Before antidepressants, no one thought it was strange that people could be afflicted with depression for years, not weeks. Folks have a hard time understanding that not everyone responds well to what is available there in medications, and that for these people, depression is a chronic, up and down affair that can lighten briefly, then come back without warning. I have seen people that I know are horribly affected by depression suddenly wake up, engage, and have a good time. Still I know that these people are very far from “better”; we would be seeing them in the outpatient program for years.
    Just a thought. The big problem is how the insurance company is sure they can diagnose from a couple of pictures when professionals can’t without a evaluation. Very suspiscious.

  11. “Is a photograph a valid measure of anything other than a visual record of a moment?”

    Thanks Summer, you sum things up well…. although I suspect the insurance companies may be working to a different agenda….

  12. When I read this story, I thought, this can’t be — this must be a joke. How ridiculous that an insurance company is making decisions about your coverage based on a set of photos. A photo of a person on a beach can’t be diagnostic of whether that person has depression or not; depressed people go on vacations too — that doesn’t mean they’re not depressed.

    What next, denying coverage to people with diabetes because they found a photo of the person eating a piece of cake?


  13. My experience with disability insurance policies is that the companies who issue them seem to feel that if you can breathe, you can work.

    Most of the policies I have seen do not care if you can return to your job, only if you can do any work at all. This woman’s insurer probably figured she could start working as a swimsuit model.

  14. Dr. John, that’s exactly how I felt about this news story when I saw it gaining popularity on Digg yesterday. The comments over at The Consumerist’s posting of the news story are worth a read. People seem to be greatly divided amongst who is in the wrong here.

    And Alicia, I love your “ninja psychiatrist” comment. And I agree that Facebook is wholly unreliable for accurate information — isn’t it true that the internet gives us the opportunity to selectively edit & self-present ourselves in any way we’d like?

  15. I think the whole thing is absurd. I mean people DO try to take advantage of the insurance companies all the time. It’s hard to say if she is truly unable to work or not. But making that call based upon a facebook photo album is completely negligent.

  16. This is unbelievable. I’m speaking from a lot of experience. I am bipolar II and thanks to my meds I much much better. I still battle with mild depression from time to time but anyone who suffers from depression knows that you can be the best actor in the world. I’ve had many friends tell me that they never suspected that I was depressed. I often said that I should have received an Academy Award for my acting abilities. There is absolutely no way that an insurance company could tell that this woman was not depressed anymore. I think these bloody insurance companies are just looking for a reason to not pay out benefits. I’m sure glad i’m a canadian and people with mental illness haven’t got too many problems getting help from the government. There are so many resources available to us. i hope this woman fights this and has family members who’ll help her.

  17. too many lazy individuals skiving work by claiming to be depressed, claiming their six months sick leave. If she’s well enough to go out to bars and watch strippers and have a good night out then she’s clearly well enough to do a days work. end of story.

    She should be done for fraud for claiming sick pay for a whole year before this, disgraceful.

  18. Summer, in spite of the fact that you have several people here who must be psychiatrists based on their remarkable ability to diagnose Mme Blanchard’s depression or lack thereof, and even exactly how long appropriate treatment should take, all through just one article and photo, I’d like to offer this thought.

    You are making an assumption that many people do: that insurance companies are concerned about the wellbeing of those who are covered under their disability benefits program.

    They are not. Their only mandate is to their shareholders. They MUST answer to this financial obligation, which is why they will use whatever means they can to find any excuse to deny your insurance claim. Their job is to NOT send you money if at all possible, and to get you back to work. Period. That’s their only purpose.

    ManuLife and other insurance carriers ARE indeed in regular contact with every insured person who is off on medical leave, because they need to be on top of when the person’s condition begins to show even a glimmer of improvement, thus starting the Return To Work process that will get them off their files. This monitoring can feel like incredibly stressful ongoing harrassment to patients, but it is a reality of the business.

    Insurance companies are corporations, not charities, and that is how corporations function. Welcome to the industry!

    I had a co-worker once who was off on extended leave; she was seen by another co-worker out riding her bicycle one day. Around the lunchroom the following day, there was plenty of eye-rolling and ‘must be nice!’ comments as the subject of the bicycle-riding was discussed. There is very little understanding or tolerance among NON-insurance people around those who cannot work for physical/mental health reasons, so how can we expect ManuLife or other industry carriers to be more compassionate than our own co-workers are?

    The truth is: none of us knew how difficult this person’s day was leading up to that bike ride, or how long she needed to recuperate following the bike ride. It may have been her first and only attempt to exercise as part of her prescribed medical therapy.

    For those who need a swift education in invisible medical conditions, visit http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com.

    As for the woman on the beach, here’s a news flash: ANYTHING you post ANYWHERE on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites has the option of being seen and misinterpreted, especially when your insurance company is out looking for any excuse at all to cancel your claim. The article states that this photo was NOT the sole reason for the denial, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt their rationale for denying it.

  19. Carolyn, thanks for the comment. You’ve brought up some great points, one of which is strikingly important within the academic communication discipline: meaning is always in the receiver. No matter how clear we BELIEVE we are when we send a message (via speech, the written word, nonverbally, or otherwise), it’s the receiver who will use their own schemas for interpreting the message. We have such little control over the ultimate meaning of what we broadcast.

  20. i’m not sure why anyone would stand up for a woman they don’t know. insurance companies are predictable. stick with the devil you know.

  21. To thinking thoughts: being judgemental is not very attractive. I was repulsed by your “thoughts.” It makes me wonder if you really have had experience with major depression. Don’t know where you get your info,but it is incorredt

  22. weiss: you sound like the devil himself–do you like to stir up trouble?

  23. to question:
    take your facebook page down or change it so it doesn’t reflect your real name ANYWHERE. it’s what i just did, after reading this wonderful bit of news.

    this has to be a sign of the Apocalypse to come. if it’s not, it should be.

    i’m going to set up my lawn chair now and watch for the mushroom cloud on the horizon. with this bit of news, i can only hope it shows up soon.

  24. “She enjoys writing about her experiences with anxiety, panic, and Paxil.”

    Interesting hobbies….

  25. MUST BE NICE! She’s out frolicking at the beach while the rest of us are dragging out sorry butts out of bed each morning to pay for “benefits” such as this. If she can get out of bed to see some strippers, she can get out bed to punch a clock. Bottom line — she got caught playing the system.

    Depression is pretty much a made-up condition that is a cover for whining and laziness. The only real depression is clinical depression — which means you LITERALLY cannot get out of bed. That’s the only depression that’s a true disability. Feeling bummed becuase “Desperate Housweives” is a rerun tonight and your acrylic nails chipped already does not qualify.

    I’m glad she got caught. I hope IBM dues her on behalf of all the employees they have who actually go to work in the morning.

  26. Anonymous, interesting that you should have the one true diagnosis for depression down. What experiences or training or educaton with or about depression do you have to base it on? I’d like to check it out personally, since I having quite heard or read that twist on the illness in any professional literature or experienced that in the work I do.

  27. There is a much larger context to this situation.

    It is getting increasingly more difficult to maintain privacy with all the online applications. There are facebook and delicious and twitter icons everywhere, and your browser stores all your information that automatically logs you in to some of these applications and you may not know it. I swear with some websites i do not check that box ‘automatically log me in each time’ but i’m still automatically logged in when I visit the site.

    There are so many menus and options to link things together, settings, etc, I can see how even technically saavy people can miss something–like forget to check one little box–and accidentally reveal their identity when they planned to be anonymous. The non-techies will fare much worse.

    A friend of mine recently shared a photo album with her email contacts through a popular photo sharing site. She didn’t realize her whole album was linked to the sub album she shared, and intimate pictures of her and her husband were there for everyone to see! Luckily I caught this and told her right away. I went to that same site – photobucket – where I have pics too..and experimented to see how this could happen. I found it was difficult to ‘de-link’ your main album from the album you want to share, and there are no indications your main album is accessible to those you are sharing the subalbum with. You might think, oh just check the private box-but no, trying to do that is somehow confusing and takes lots of navigating thru menus and submenus…

    One day on my laptop at work I logged into google to search something and was suprised to see the sites I previously searched showed up on my screen as huge ‘icons’–visible to my coworkers. I never changed my Google settings-just one day when google initiated that feature, I guess it was defaulted to do that?

    Google automatically storing all the sites you access-when you join a Google group-can the other members see this too? Say you join a mental health group-then join a work-related google group-are all the groups you are a member of visible to anyone with a google group account? There is just so much to keep track of anyomore.

    Check one little box by accident or miss one little menu in the setting options and it can have severe consequences. It’s getting worse.

  28. Anonymous said: The only real depression is clinical depression — which means you LITERALLY cannot get out of bed.

    Well I guess my depression wasn’t ‘real’ when I was able to force myself out of bed to get to work, but sat at my computer screen all day despite streams of tears flowing from my eyes throughout the entire day! I was too depressed to even figure out how to apply for disability to get time off work. I spent 3 months at work like this-crying all day long, my back facing my coworkers as I sat crying in my cubicle. I’m lucky I did not get fired and I know my work was not up to par.

    uggg. It sux when people don’t understand depression!

    Yeah I could force myself out of bed to get to work-but each day came home from work and immediately went to bed (still crying) until it was time to get up for work again. My 11 year old child really suffered, luckily not a toddler at the time. I was a single mom and I don’t see how it benefited anyone for me to go to work during this time. It really hurt my child and it was if i was in some kind of thick cognitive fog where i didnt even realize this. no support, no one to say hey you need to get help-look at what you are doing to your child.

    i was so nonfunctional, but yes, i see how some will be happy knowing i still made it to work everyday instead of lazily and undeservingly collecting disability benefits until i got better.

  29. Most comments have been insightful except for anonymous’s post at 1:32pm, I think you may need some education around depression first before making such a comment. I understand insurance companies need to monitor cases because they can not run as charities. However, I am concerned how these companies get their information. I thought there was a Electronic Documents Act passed into law in an effort to clarify how companies can collect and use Canadians’ personal information. I thought companies cannot collect information without an individuals expressed consent. This is just another reason to stay away from Facebook.

  30. You know, there are many people who are unhappy and suffer from depression and anxiety. Most suck it up and work because they have no other choice. I’m sorry, nobody in good health deserves to get paid to do nothing for over a year – this woman was just gaming the system like any other hustler. No doubt she would have continued collecting checks indefinitely. I have met people like her, and they don’t want to “get better” – they simply don’t want to work.

  31. For purposes of disability insurance, there is a difference between whether the patient is depressed and whether the patient is disabled.

    From my years as a benefit manager, my guess is that they stopped payments because a trip to the warm beaches showed that she was not disabled, regardless of the level of her depression.

  32. there are people coming back from iraq dodging bullets and bombs while watching their buddies get blown into bits. if she gets a year off to party for having to wake up at 8, sit at a desk, and go home at 5…. what do those guys get? 10 years? 20 years?

  33. Companies (I only know this to be true in the U.S.) have been doing this for years to reduce disability fraud.

    Companies/insurance carriers routinely send out private investigators to conduct surveillance – and yes, take pictures! If the photos and reports returned back to the originator contradict the disability, benefits are ceased and the claimant has to defend oneself. This has been going on for years!

    That is why I tried to articluate a specific point in my previous comment..but in reading several blogs on this situation-nothing seems to register. People, benefits have been -for years- routinely terminated from “evidence” shown in photos..at least in the US. My point is that the way information is collected, linked, and spread throughout the internet intensifies this situation along with other legal and employment related negative consequences.

    Don’t take the word of someone who writes as anonymous on a forum-call some private investigators in your area, and ask them what they charge to perform undercover surveillance on workers comp and disability claimants.

    The photo situation is not new news at all since this has been going on for years – so I don’t understand all the shock over this individuals situation and don’t understand why people are not thinking about how the mechanisms of websites, social networks, and the internet in general amplify or make it easier for a person to find themself in such a situation.

    At least some people have discussed the laws governing these situations.

  34. Ouf. From someone sitting here on sick leave, it is very difficult to read. I’m not at work right now. There are days where I can’t even get up and others where I’m able to walk to my daughter’s school and pick her up. Does that mean I’m ready to go back to work? I’m a teacher, and I really don’t think that my students need someone who will sometimes just sit and stare at a wall, cry for no reason and sometimes forgets to shower!

    I don’t know what kind of work this lady did but I doubt that she was very efficient at it if she was sick. I don’t think that when you are diagnosed with depression, you are a very productive worker. And that is the important word: diagnosed. To be able to stay home, I have seen my doctor every month. I see a therapist every week. All those people were fools? They were all suckered into a little scheme?

    I do get out of my house. I try to see people. If I had the money, I would go and enjoy the sun as well. My doctor keeps telling me that’s what I need to do to get out of this mood I’m in. Try to do things to get better. I don’t know if this woman was truly depressed. I just find that this is not something that will help people with depression.

    Services are very tough to find. Companies don’t really offer free therapy to employees. Many employers will not even notice that you are feeling sick. I feel sad that the debate is once again about the validity of depression and not how we can help people.

    How many recent stories have we hear about people committing suicide even though their life seemed so great? Nobody would expect a millionaire movie-star or football player to be depressed. Yet, some have committed suicide. I wonder if their people magazine picture are proof that they were faking? Guess their death proved their case.

  35. We do not think a person with a health condition should be judged by a picture. Even people who suffer from depression can have times when they are happy and smile and seem like they are enjoying life. When taking a vacation we can escape stress and relax. This individual shouldbe assessed by a health care professional and not just by looking at a picture.

  36. What does depression look like? Is it someone’s expression? Depression is a multi-faceted illness experienced very differently in each person. Even if a person does not experience depression, everyone has emotional highs and lows. This picture may have captured a ‘moment in time’ when she was experiencing happiness – way to go – you are on the road to recovery.

  37. I’ve read several news articles and researched for additional details before coming to a conclusion.

    I’m sorry to say this, but it sounds like to me that this woman is just lazy. Anyone who really had a depression [or other mental] problem would NOT be posting photos on facebook, much less continuing to post photos on facebook. This whole “I have a depression problem” is just one that ANYONE can fake.

    Now as for the argument of how facebook profiles should have been locked and private… there is NO such thing as keeping things “safe” and locked on the net. ANYTHING that gets posted or sent [yes that includes EMAIL] through the net STAYS on the net. I’ve known this simple FACT for years.

    As for the insurance company being “in the wrong” to snoop and discontinue her benefits… I’m sorry, but they have every right to know if someone is handing them a line a sh!t just to get free money out of the deal. There ARE people out there who REALLY do need and deserve to have health insurance, but don’t get it because of individuals like this woman who make it bad for everyone else. I commend the insurance company for buckling down and I wish that other leeching individuals would get caught and cut off too.

    Bottom line: it doesn’t pay to be a thief, liar, lazy, money moocher. Let this be a lesson for anyone who thinks it’s ok to suck on the system while others pay their hard earned money for it. IBM would be wise to not allow the woman to come back to the job. Instead, they should tell her to take a hike, as this story I’m sure will have some sort of bad reflection on the corporation. If this woman is capable of going to a beach weekly and capable of going to night clubs to see male dancers, then she’s most certainly capable of working a normal job like a normal human being.

    Don’t feel sorry for con artists. They’re good at sucking people dry of their money.

  38. Wednesday November 25, 2009

    Major Depression.
    Quite a foe to deal with every second of the 24 hour day.

    A depressed person can smile for a picture and go places because he/she may not have the decision to leave at anytime. If this Depressed Lady did follow her doctor’s supposed order’s, then Manulife
    is excrement out of luck and will probably be re-instating her benefits. But this Lady will require her Doctor to send letter(s) to be sent Manulife immediately.

    In fact it would be in the Doctor’s best interest to phone Manulife to straighten things out. Maybe the Doctor’s patient will take him to court, since his medical advise caused her to have a greater CRISIS, with Manulife negating on their responsibilities.

    Even though a client is seeing his/her own Doctor, Manulife can require an employee on sick leave to see an other DOCTOR OF MANULIFE”S CHOOSING! But if this Lady does have Major Depression she is in the height category for SUICIDE.

    I’m sure that vacation/relaxing didn’t work. Major Depression does not just disappear because of a few endorphins were released. It may have been a great struggle for this Lady to leave home and be where she cannot get away from because she could not just up and leave her vacation and go home.

    Most Clinically Depressed people stay nearly everyday at home due to various medical issues resulting from the depression.

    Do you think the Depressed want to tell people about it, no of course not. The depressed wouldn’t want people to think they are crazy because they are not.

    The Depressed have an unbalanced of chemicals in the brain and have Area 25 of the Brain being a transmission line into the Frontal Lobes. That Transmission line is dead, cut off, sealed from reaching into the use again, of the frontal lobes. The Frontal Lobes come into use only between the ages of 25- 30 years of age (we all are still children till then).


    Did Manulife hire an expert in still pictures of the Depressed or did a Feminatzies (Staunch Feminist) of no valued skills and no education concerning body language examine the pictures. But perhaps even further. Did the Feminatzies all look at the pictures and not based on any science of medicine, made the usual Methodology? What is the rendered in these situations? Let’s not deceive anyone here reading, we all know Women GOSSIP. Fine don’t admit yawl GOSSIP, but it is a FACT…read on.

    Gossip is suppose to part of a females teenage years. Unfortunately Gossiping stays with most women after the teenage period ad is carried sternly into adulthood.

    There was a survey of 5,000 women in the United Kingdom, which asked if they Lied on a regular daily basis. The Survey came back with the results of 92% of the 5,000 women LIE everyday Regularly as a part of their personalities.

    Imagine that the Survey reported 4,000 of 5,000 ADULT WOMEN are considered to be LIARS, and if they weren’t honest with the Survey, then it is probably an even higher percentage of females who’s own tongues they cannot put under their own control

    Certainly a Doctor’s report is necessary to clear up this dreadful situation. Without a completed Doctor’s Report to assist a decision by Manulife, I can see there has been No Integral Ethical Approach has taken place yet.

    There is a need for an investigation by the Government or some other Entity of Authority to investigate Manulife’s move to dispel her and speak to the Lady and her Doctor(s), in order to resolve this issue.

    I am not suggesting anything to anyone in my writing herein. It only my opinion based on my life’s experiences and educations. The problem Manulife may have created is “pushing this Lady over the edge” to the point of this Lady removing herself from LIFE. In no uncertainness terms and I do not suggest or condone releaving one’s self by the taking of one’s self. If any out there does then I would like you to seek professional help immediately at a hospital right away.

    Remember God Loves You.

    Respectfully yours- Father Magee
    P.S. Dominus Vobisum
    Vade Retro Satana,
    Nunquam Mihi Vana,
    Sunt Mal Quae Bibas,
    Deus Det Nobis Suam Pacem,
    Atiem Pacis Existio +++,
    In Nomine Patris,
    Et Philio,
    Et Spirituo Sancto,
    AMEN +++

  39. AHP at 10:49 pm on November 22nd, 2009

    Hello to Mr. BENEFITS manager.

    After your years of experience, “you GUESS” bla bla bla….

    If you have those educational years of experience you wouldn’t have to “just guess” an answer, Sir.

    Your type of management appears to be a false notion of what are so-called (self-called) TEAM PLAYERS.

    Your response clearly states that you would take the same approach as Manulife and “JUST GUESS” the Lady’s diagnosis (without Medical Credentials too boot).

    There is no guessing about Major Depression Mr. Benefits Manager. You in your position have been trained to not help clients, but to dismiss them.

    True or untue Mr. manager Sir?
    Why of course it is the Truth.

    Manulife is in the business of keeping their MONEY in their pockets no matter what, and that is the job of anyone who is Mr. Benefits Manager.

    Lastly, what if the Lady lived at a beachhouse and appeared to smile in pictures..is she still guilt because she lives at a beachHouse? So your expert medical examination of depression is based on Environment and not actual facts of medical science. WOW, that’s quite remarkle Sir.

    Where can we buy a Crystal-ball like yours, Sir?

  40. Depressed-People need to be LOVED out of Depression

  41. That is absurd. Not everyone that is depressed.
    There is about 3 million seconds a year. I don’t know of anyone that can’t offer up a smile or even laugh in that time frame.
    That doesn’t mean they are happy.
    There has been people that go out with family and/or friends and laugh and carry on only to go home at the end of the night and commit suicide.

  42. There are three separate issues here.

    First, was it proper for the insurance company to review the Facebook page, described as private, in the first place. This would be ok if the page was left open to the public, but not if the company used illegal or deceptive means to hack into the page.

    Assuming the company obtained the photos legitimately, are they evidence related to the presence or extent of disability? Certainly such photos may have some tendency to support or refute the presence of disability and can be considered, along with other evidence, in making such a determination.

    Finally, how much weight should this evidence receive? If an insured claims disability on the basis of inability to walk, pictures showing her walking the golf course would be powerful evidence against the claim. However, as a physician (although not a psychiatrist) who has observed many depressed patients, I would say that the pictures described here, on their own, are at best weak evidence against her claim. It may have been reasonable for the insurer to use the pictures as the basis to request a psychiatric reevaluation, but denying the claim based on these pictures was not appropriate.

  43. anonymous: says it all. Hide behind your compelte and utter blank persona.

    Sure, I can see the point where the forces who are getting shot at, blown up etc have a shed laod more to deal with than most. But you show your naivety in most of your comments. Your lack of know how of the illness that is depression; your lack of understanding that not all people are bulit the same; your almost claim that you are the beacon or fount of all knowledge and therefore your word is law and gospel.

    Try to find a BBC show from TV last night (Inside Sport) where the tales of a handful of British (and indeed non-British) sports stars depression are revealed.

    It matters not who you are, what your name is, where you come from, what job you do, who your support mechanism might be; if depression wants to get a hold of you, you will have no choice. You can’t simply say – go away depression!

    It would be interesting to understand where you are coming from. Here in GB we have a saying – Methinks thou doth protest too much!

    I pity anyone from your family or (obvioulsy very small) circle of friends if any of them were to dare to admit to you they might suffer from anything other than Swine Flu. You’d probably tell even them to go out and get on with it!

  44. Medical and insurance issues aside, this only proves that Facebook users are egotistical and can be very stupid.

    From all of the things that I’ve seen and heard, the incidence of egoism and stupidity is far higher among Facebook users than among the general population. That seems incredible when you consider the average person, but nonetheless, it does appear probably when you consider the very concept of Facebook is designed to appeal to the stupidly egotistical.

  45. I agree with the group. I have had major issues with depression for the last 20 years. This is not something you can determine in a Photograph, and with me it swings, I am not depressed all of the time, but when it hits its bad, I get as low as I can possibly get. Only people who have suffered from it truly understand each other, its like a man trying to tell his wife what it feels like to have a baby. I also think many people would be suprised if they really knew who, of their acquaintences has depression. I have met people who appear to be the most self confident successful individuals, but only when you get past their front do you find out about their issues with depression. If you dont have depression, you do not understand……. I guess maybe now she should post some “Sad” pics on her facebook… Give me a break.

  46. Whatever, I call BS. There is NO WAY that woman is “depressed”. As someone who knows depression all to well, I don’t even have enough energy to get out of bed when I am depressed, let alone hang out at the beach and post pictures of myself on facebook. That whiny b**** needs to grow up.

  47. You have to be kidding me….. depression? try being self employed – we don’t get to take time off for depression! We simply have to keep working. I am so sick of people using the system because they simply don’t want to work. I side with the insurance company – if she can go out and play – she can go out and work.

  48. You don’t find recovering depressives on holiday smiling for the photos anymore than you find recovering alcoholics hanging around bars/pubs – It does not happen. She is a classic example of the trend to invent illnesses where none exist. 30 years ago she’d have been told to sort herself out and get back to work or be sacked. Zero sympathy here.

  49. How dare they?!? Having suffered from major depression for over 13 years, what we feel inside and what we show on the outside can so often be poles apart. A photo is a captured moment in time – it does not show what a person is truly feeling inside. Just as a photo can’t show if a person has epilepsy or cancer, nor can it show if you are suffering from depression.

    Depression is paralyzing in so many ways. So often we put on a brave face when around others, as we don’t want to bring them down. We can’t “pull ourselves together and snap ourselves out of it” – would that it were so simple. Yes there are people who use “depression” as a reason to rort the system. But those of us who are genuine would give damned near anything to be “normal” again.

    Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, like diabetes. To all you narrow-minded, judgemental, ignorant people out there who think that we’re faking it, think of this … if you were diagnosed with Diabetes, would you expect people to say “snap yourself out of it”? No??? Well neither can people suffering from depression.

    It is one of the most evil of illnesses. So many of us diagnosed with depression do shut ourselves away from the world. Just because we’re seen in public with, God forbid, a smile on our faces doesn’t mean we’re fakes. Most of us are trying hard to smile so people won’t know just how bad we feel – and sometimes smiling make us feel a little better for a few minutes … and stops us from crying our eyes out. Last time I checked with my psychiatrist, that wasn’t a crime!

    So before you are OH SO READY TO JUDGE depression as a fake illness, and sprout your ill-informed and hurtful views, take the time to research it more. Talk to people who are diagnosed with depression … read books about it … because like so many of us, one day it may happen to you & then you won’t know what hit you!!! You shouldn’t be so quick to judge until you’ve walked a mile in our shoes!

  50. I think, it is not wise if judging someone just by looking at photos. image alone is not enough to say that someone suffering from depression or not. photographs can provide a mental picture, but can not serve as a reference point. The most accurate is the diagnosis from a doctor

  51. I agree with the other posters here. If this woman can take the time to post on FaceBook/MySpace, can take the time to take a trip and hang out with strippers, then she can get a job and work!!!

    She is just like some of the people here who post on Psych Central’s message boards. They claim they cannot work and yet they post several times a day to the boards whining about their lives.

    Get a job folks… if you can type 20 messages a day on a message board, you can work!!!

    It’s time to stop being lazy!!!


  52. Peppermint: that’s great, I’m so glad there are jobs out there for disabled and infirm, that are the equivalent of posting 20 messages per day. Please do point them out for us.

    Sometimes belief in oneself is half the battle, and for someone living with depression, that is hard. I have physical disabilities as well as long-term relapsing depression, and it has taken me a long time to believe I am capable of doing a job of more than a few hours per week. I am now awaiting a start date for a new job, I am happy to say. But I got there by thanks to a lot of support, and a great deal of psychological help.

    Comments like “stop being lazy”, are precisely what kept me so low, and prevented me from taking on more work, for years.

  53. I did genealogy for a long time. If I do a google search of my name, it will pop up posts I made in a newsgroup 15 years ago. If you post on line, in any way, you have no privacy and should not expect to have any privacy. Regardless of what the settings were on a social networking account or not. If you interact on the Internet with the expectation of privacay or confidentiality, you’ll eventually be sorely disappointed.

    Having been clinically depressed to the point of planning a suicide…if I had had the energy to go on vacation, I would likely not tried to overdose. If the idea of being around ANYONE, let alone strippers had not been repulsive and I avoided company and contact at all costs, someone might have figured out that I was going to try to kill myself sooner. It was a friend who was trying to get me to go out and have lunch that saved my life by not taking ‘no’ for an answer and coming to my house.

    In the three months that I was depressed I had one pix was taken and I looked like a ghoul. Posing for a picture–in a bikini? Regardless of whether or not a picture is just a record in time, it’s the entire concept of being WILLING and ABLE to have the picture taken in the venue that it was taken…..

  54. Are you serious! Nothing is sacred on the internet. Have you forgotten about hackers and big brother?

    If the Dr. prescribed the sun and vacation, she should be allowed the benefits.

    Have a wonderful day…..:-)

  55. My only question is, how is the lady ever supposed to get over her depression if she DOESN’T try to go out to the beach and get some sun? Go out to the bars and meet new friends, maybe even get laid? Do they expect her to become a shut-in, never leaving the home, popping prozac after prozac until a miracle happens and she can magicially return to work, a new person?

  56. Haha good point Desiree Nothing is sacred on the internet!!

  57. Can’t believe how small minded some people are who have posted. Ive suffered from depression for 25 years, Ive got plenty of photographs of me smiling when Ive been dying inside. Im smiling mainly because I dont want to spoil the fun for others or bring them down. I hope to god that you never have to experience a major depressive episode. I get myself into work but thats only because I have a boss and colleagues that support and understand me. Thank god I dont work for the small minds out there.

  58. Wow…the broad spectrum of responses here is, in many ways, more saddening than the story itself – and indicative of a common larger problem.

    Depression (and mental illness in genral) is still taboo in our society – this does NOT help the sufferers, or our society as a whole. Major Deprsesive Disorder cannot be overcome by sheer will. We don’t know the story behind the story. Perhaps this woman tried forever to gather enough enthuasiasm for life to try to force herself to take a vacation, for instance. I was a very “successful” executive in my field when I was diagnosed. I lost my job and spent a year off work, and another year-plus doing reduced work, trying to get back into my career, etc. I was in a part time program at the hospital and worked with a number of professionals (psychologists/doctors, etc). One critical part of my recovery plan was to focus on summoning the strength to act as if I weren’t depressed…by finding the things that I used to find pleasurable, and doing them anyway…even though this probably won’t bring me any joy for some time. So I did. Somedays I still couldn’t get out of the house. Somedays I was good enough for day trips, I worked up to going to the beach for a weekend. Point is – I could have been the woman in the picture. And I was far from ready to work again at the time. I look back on it and feel fortunate that depression didn’t claim my life as well. I’m lucky, more than you know.

    Now – imagine if this woman had been off work because she was tired from cancer treatment – or another illness that wouldn’t be judged out of ignorance. I doubt many of the sceptics would be as critical. Perhaps this was a break between rounds of chemo, for instance. Regardless, I think more of us would agree that the pictures do not constitute damning evidence.

    Perhaps this woman left the pictures up intentionally, having fallen out of all her social and professional circles due to the illness – I suspect that she may have been relieved to have a single picture to post to stop the rumor mill, reassure worried people that she was recovering, etc.

    We have all ready about the severely depressed person that, left untreated and at the lowest depth of the illness – abruptly start acting cheerful and normal again. Immediately prior to suicide! This is not as uncommon as you might think. Surely, these people are extremely disabled despite the fact that they seem otherwise on the outside for a period of time.

    Moreover, adjusting to antidepressants usually comes with alot of side effects (you can’t drive, sleep properly, etc). You must get through them and wait for them to subside before you know if the drug will help you. During this time, you wouldn’t be able to work or do anything that requires accountability/consistent behaviour – but it’s entirely plausible that you could vacation.

    I felt personally ashamed of myself when I was diagnosed. I never though of myself as someone who could be clinically depressed. I bet the cynics are in the same shoes as I was. But I wasn’t at fault, any more than I would be with a diagnosis of diabetes or anything eles. Why do we regard mental illness with such bias and ignorance? Just like we can have a range of ailments (and levels of disability) with our physical bodies (from a cold, to a flu, to a disorder to a more debilitating disease)…wouldn’t it naturally follow that we can have a spectrum of mental illness and related levels of disability too? But people that contend with the later deal not just with the disability (and depression can be very physical as well for the record) – but also the social stigma and fear of being judged badly for something that is not their fault. Ironically this makes people sicker, and delays many people from getting a faster diagnosis.

    The gall of some people…I am sure she has proof of a medical diagnosis, and her doctor would attest to asking her to try to take a trip to aid the road to recovery – to be cynical is to discount not just the woman/victim, but it also implies that you’re diagnosis is superior to that of her own doctor. Such ignorance and stigma is all too common. Future generations will look at our misconceptions/ignorance of depression as unthinkably backward and marvel at how society has changed.

    Until society becomes more educated about depression- the single biggest disability in terms of common prevalence and cost to companies – things won’t get any better. The ironic twist is that social awareness would result in faster diagnosis/easier to treat illness, less “pre-senteeism” to people midly affected but non-productive at work, and less time missed from work (and life) altogether.

  59. Sorry for the long-winded response! I just have alot to say about this kind of thing.

    I also think that it basically comes down to pictures being exactly that – snapshots. Pictures that represent glimpses in time DO NOT necessarily represent someone’s overall state. Work requires consistency, that this woman be well most (if not, all) of the time.

    Let’s be fair here..the most that we can arguably deduce from snapshots is that she is well/functional SOME of the time. It still leaves most of this woman’s day to day life in the dark.

    Perhaps the ignorant people do not know how wellness fluctuates as you struggle with the illness. It is not the same as discovering pictures of an employee with a bad back, or severe physical ailment playing sports!

    Can we (or the insurance company) legally assume that the pictures are representative of her day-to-day state? I would guess not. I’d get a lawyer if I were her. But that’s the healthy me talking! lol!

    Inconsistent performance/being well some of the time is not good enough to keep a job, I should know. I’m sure I’ve had coworkers who derided whta they perceived to be “excuses”. I just kept doing the best I could (working inconsistently) until I was ultimately fired. It would have been better for me and my company if I had taken voluntary leave earlier…..like the woman in the story.

    Guess you can’t win either way.

  60. Unfortunately when you post your life in a public forum for all to see, such as Facebook and the like, you are sure to be scrutinized by some as well as adorned by others. You have to take the good and the bad and posting pictures on Facebook of all “Happy Times” and posting them, is not the wisest decision when you are depressed and receiving leave for it. Don’t get me wrong, I totally agree that you can’t make any determination from a few photos of someones mental health, but using a little discretion might have been a better idea in this situation. Btw, I thought that you couldn’t have your health benefits taken away in Canada.

  61. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words, but this is too much…
    I’ve seen a lot of depressive persons smile one day and wake up sad and drained of energy the next one.
    But other than that, we can now ask..Is Facebook the new Big Brother?
    If so…it’s our own fault…

  62. Social Media are becoming very powerful, but only as powerful as we (those on the social media) let them become. We love social media, but this is an extreme example…

  63. Thanx 2 Jennifer and those who do understand. If you hav never suffered w/ clinical depression you hav no place to judge. Im clinically depressed w/ social anxiety and Adult ADD. I dont want to be this person I’ve become. I do have days when I get out of bed and maybe even crack a few smiles and jokes. Yet 99.9% of the time I just want to lay down and DIE! Ignorant people who make comments like, “Stop being lazy” or”Just snap out of it and get a job” only make it feel worse. May you never be judged by a blind critic who knows nothing of which they speak, such as yourselves!!! BTW I have always ben a hard worker and it kills me inside that I havnt worked for several years now. If I was okay my doc wouldnt have had me locked up N a psych ward on suicide watch about a year ago. I’m not who I used to be and I am frightened to death

  64. This is an absolute joke and just shows how un-educated people are on mental health issues! I have just stumbled accross this and it has made me so mad, how can anyone actually believe just because this woman may have had her mind taken off things on holiday n had a few gud pics seriously means she’s not depressed anymore. I have suffered from depression for 5years and the help I got was diobolical. 1doctor even sed to me “well u don’t look depressed now” so obviously to be depressed in their eyes u have to be in a rediculous visible state 24/7 for some reason u can’t cover your feelings up for 10mins while u walk down the st or sit in the docs waiting room! May I also pount out that some forms of depression involve highs and lows so how can someone judge something so serious on a few pictures?? Its quite obvious to me that many of these people that deal with benefits n many more people in other professions need properly educating on something so serious before taking such drastic and to be frank cruel accusations and then cutting all her benefits. Its discusting!

  65. OMG I am on disability for depression myself, I have panic and anixiety attacks all the time…. but YES I do have some days when I smile TG or I would have killed myself by now.
    I hope she wins and I hope they pay BIG for doing this to her I heard she lost her house too

    • Oh yes and by the way my Couseller told me to take a vacation as well but I didn’t …couldn’t so TG I didnt … I may have ended up in the same boat.



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