Cloud of Depression: The Angus Cloud Story

Blurry shadow of person holding head with one hand

“What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died?”

This was the opening sentence of “Love Story,” the 1970 best-selling novel by Erich Segal. These few simple words convey utter helplessness, bewilderment, sorrow, and pain–the entire spectrum that winds up as a lump in the throat and the inability to speak the unspeakable.

So now we come to the passing of the well-liked, respected, fun-to-be-with actor Angus Cloud, 26 years old. And once more, we face the question, “What can you say?” Co-workers of the TV star posted loving tributes on social media. But if you read between their lines, you can imagine them asking, “What can you say?”

Indeed. So perhaps the best thing might be to speak of the mental health issue that plagued Angus – Depression – and what is being done to conquer it. Above all, in a meaningful tribute to the young star, this discussion may prompt people suffering from symptoms to have them checked out by a mental health professional.

One of the pioneers in the field of depression was Dr. Baron Shopsin. An article about him appears on Google, attributed to the publication “Neuropsychopharmacology.  At the intersection of brain, behavior, and therapeutics.” The article was obviously meant as a memorial tribute at the time of Dr. Shopsin’s passing and a brief bio. The writer had been a colleague, a fellow researcher, and co-author, Dr. Samuel Gershon, who later became Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.

For the article, their specialty was listed as Neuropsychopharmacology. In earlier times, the shorter term, “Psychopharmacology” was used.

Dr. Gershon wrote:

Baron Avery Shopsin (1935-2017)

“Baron had a varied educational experience in Europe and completed his medical degree at Louvain University in Belgium. He returned to the United States, and after some residency experience at Cornell, he went to NYU to finish his residency experience.

“He very quickly began a research track with our Psychopharmacology Research Group in 1970. He enthusiastically took to his research and concentrated on a number of studies in lithium, which was a key component of our program. He sought collaboration with other investigators in the department of medicine and carried out important studies on the effect of lithium on thyroid function and the unusual effect of lithium causing an increase in WBC (white blood cells, leukocytes) counts.

“Because he had developed a significant group of patients he followed on lithium, he established a special Lithium Clinic at NYU and ran it successfully for many years. He also was the co-author with me of the first textbook on “Lithium treatment and research.”

“Throughout his whole time at NYU he was an active, creative, and energetic researcher in a wide range of areas of study on manic-depressive disorders, lithium pharmacology, and a wide variety of antidepressants.

“He left NYU and entered private practice in 1978. He was a Member Emeritus in the American College of Neuropsychology.”

Following is an exclusive–the personal testimony of a woman whose husband was treated by Dr. Shopsin:

“We had been married for about 20 years when my husband’s ‘quirks’ really began to worry me. He would leave our bed in the middle of the night. In the morning, I would find him in a fetal position, asleep on the living room floor. He rarely spoke to me, except to criticize, and was unresponsive when I asked why, worried that perhaps I had inadvertently done something wrong or hurtful. The only time he seemed a bit less bad-tempered was when he was gambling–at cards, the race track, or the gaming tables in Atlantic City or Las Vegas.

“One day I happened to hear a radio broadcast. The speaker was Dr. Baron Shopsin, talking about something known as depression. Never having heard of this, I made a note to seek him out.

“Fortuitously, my husband and I were going on vacation, and who should wind up at the same destination but Dr. Shopsin!

“At a party, I asked him if I could tell him about my husband. He agreed, and to my surprise, he nodded his head in consent as I listed each symptom. The first words out of his mouth were,

‘Classic case of depression.’

“He said he could help, but only if my husband came to see him, not me as a substitute. Arranging his attendance took some doing, but my husband finally agreed. He was prescribed lithium. And it was like a miracle.

“One morning, he awoke singing. Singing! Then we went off to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. I saw him wade into the waves for the first time since our marriage, not stressing about being attacked by fish. And then, he even tried to snorkel!”

Professional insight from Ben Brafman, Chief Clinical Officer at The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Clinic in Tamarac, Florida, was shared in the following statement when he was asked to comment on the death of Angus Cloud:

“It was obvious from clips of interviews that this young man was struggling. Slurring his words, unable to complete thoughts or sentences…addiction and depression may well have been at work. Of course, every case of depression is different, and the course of treatment must be determined by professionals. But the good news is that there are professionals, there is psychopharmacology, there is hope. For this, we might say…softly and gingerly…we are lucky.

Angus Cloud also had streaks of luck. His acting career began when he was ‘discovered’ walking down a New York street…the right place at the right time. Without experience, he instinctively knew how to charm the cameras and play a role. At the fortunate moment, compatible co-workers appeared, who grew to love him. He became a star, something an actor can work all his life for and never attain.

The regret is that he did not get the help he needed. Let us wish that everyone who suspects he or she needs it does. Our therapists and physicians are ready to help.”

Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center in Tamarac, Florida

In the serene city of Tamarac, nestled within the vibrant tapestry of South Florida, you’ll find the Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center. Our center is a beacon of hope and healing for individuals wrestling with mental health disorders. We are highly respected throughout Broward County and Fort Lauderdale for our dedication to delivering a comprehensive range of services. These include a Mental Health Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), a Mental Health Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), counseling, therapy, and psychiatric care. Our commitment to evidence-based treatment and individualized care ensures that each program is tailored to meet the unique needs of our patients.

Our team of mental health experts, recognized as thought-leaders in the field, specializes in treating a wide spectrum of conditions. These encompass depression, anxiety disorders (including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder), bipolar disorder, PTSD, OCD, schizophrenia, ADHD, and borderline personality disorder. We also offer critical support for individuals undergoing a mental breakdown, and provide a nurturing mental health retreat environment designed to foster recovery. At the Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center, we empower our patients to reclaim control over their mental health journey, equipping them with the necessary tools to navigate their path towards wellness with confidence and resilience. Our passion lies in helping each individual build a healthier, happier life.

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