What Good Has Depression Ever Done For You?

I was doing some research for a book I’m writing and this statement jumped out at me;
“Tell me something good that depression does for you?”

That statement rolled around my thoughts and I realised that I’d a number of preconceived ideas about depression. I went on the net and dug out some fascinating facts but the statistics are alarming.

Here are some facts:

  • 1 out of every 6 people suffer from depression.
    I wonder what the other 5 are suffering from because I know from experience that the rest of those folk are not all happy. Perhaps they are on happy pills so they do not realise they are depressed anymore.
  • Everyone will at some time in their life be affected by depression – their own or someone else’s.
    Didn’t really think about that one until I read the stats about people who do not go for treatment.
  • 80% of depressed people are not currently having any treatment.
  • Pre-schoolers are the fastest-growing market for antidepressants.
    This one rattled my thinking. Pre-schoolers?
    In my day, my biggest stress at that age was whether I’d be able to stay up later than usual!
  • 15% of the population of most developed countries suffers severe depression.
    The definition of severe (clinical depression) is further down.
  • 30% of women are depressed.
  • 41% of depressed women are too embarrassed to seek help.
  • 54% of people believe depression is a personal weakness.
  • 92% of depressed males do not seek treatment.
  • 15% of depressed people will commit suicide.
  • Depression will be the second largest killer after heart disease by 2020 – and studies show depression is a contributory factor to fatal coronary disease.
  • Depression results in more absenteeism than almost any other physical disorder
  • Studies are increasingly linking more illnesses to depression, including: osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, some forms of cancer, eye disease and back pain.

Causes of depression:

  • Short-term depression can be caused by loss or extreme trauma.
  • Chronic or life-long depression is caused by trauma in childhood which includes: emotional, physical or sexual abuse; yelling or threats of abuse; neglect ; criticism; inappropriate or unclear expectations; maternal separation; conflict in the family; divorce; family addiction; violence in the family, neighbourhood or TV; racism and poverty.

I always believed that depression was a state of mind that you created because you were unhappy about your circumstances or your life but if you’ll look closely at both definitions, a negative external condition or circumstance resulted in the depression.

I wondered how severe depression was defined and this is the accepted criteria:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep nearly every day
  • Slowed thinking or movement that others can see
  • Fatigue or low energy nearly every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
  • Loss of concentration or indecisiveness
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

If the above was the only criteria for being severely or clinically depressed then we are all in the same sinking boat as there are very few who have not suffered or suffer from some of the above symptoms.

However, the bottom line to be officially clinically depressed is that you must suffer from five or more of the above symptoms, especially the first two, and it must be over a two-week period.
I wonder what is so mystical or magical about two weeks? Why not three or less?

This depression is not the same as that caused by the loss of a loved one, substance abuse or a medical condition.

So what good has depression done for you?

I know some people who suffer from depression and there are no easy solutions.
If you are depressed, there are few options available to you. The most viable option is professional help and support however most therapy involves seeking a solution to the thoughts and feelings that cause your depression.
Medication is the preferred antidote but it appears that certain anti depressants have even worse side effects than depression.
Alcohol is another solution but it in itself is a depressant. Thus you’re between the devil and the deep blue sea.

I believe that the past is gone and there is nothing you can do to change it or dissolve it. Those things happened and being depressed about it will only make things worse.
It makes no sense to relive those events in your mind when all it does is cause you more pain and anguish.
Surely the amount of time that you spend doing that could be put to much better use focusing on your future instead of letting the past control your present?

Isn’t it time you took charge of your own life by controlling the thoughts and images that shape your emotions?

You largely constructed your depression. It wasn’t given to you. Therefore, you can deconstruct it. — Albert Ellis

 

7 Comments »

  • Hi Andre,
    This was a really meaty post! I’m very lucky that I’ve never suffered from depression, but I know people who have and it is most important for them to get help and to change the beliefs that are holding them hostage.

  • Stringfree says:

    Hi Angela,
    Depression is a hard thing to suffer from and yet there are so many people who live on anti depressants. The stats show that they are the most commonly prescribed drug in America and I guess the first world countries as well.

    Pity that the focus is fixing the symptom and not the cause.

  • Maria Stella says:

    I am a Brazilian writer about Mental Health and I was searching for a Van Gogh picture when I found your page. As a person on a “Third or Second” World Country I would say we are going on this same path of statistics. Maybe the suicide rate here is bigger because many people don’t receive proper help, but is similar because it is about 20% in depression cases.
    I wonder why depression is so common today. If is it because we have more information and treatment to this cases or contemporary life is really getting us all anguished and depressed.
    As a patient who had depression, alI I can say is that is really serious I almost lost my life at the age of 29. Seems like the mind creates a way of escaping this contemporary struggling life and offers the option to get depressed and leave reality, some people will actually commit suicide.
    Others like you said will take “meds”, drink, abuse substances. But medication and therapy are the more trustworthy treatments nowadays.

    Regards

  • Stringfree says:

    Thanks for your informative comment.
    I believe that depression is on the rise due to the endless information we receive from both the media and the world around us. Most of that information is not good news and that combined with the pressures and stress of society push people into a position of hopelessness. We feel that events are out of our control and that there is nothing we can do about it. Circumstances and situations look bleak so we turn to something to help us forget (like substances or medication) or we turn inward and withdraw.
    I’m happy to hear you beat depression and hope that the lessons you learnt help others as well.

  • Penny says:

    Howzit Stringfree,

    Thanks for all the informative updates on my emails ~ I dont always have time to read them but tuck them away for later.
    Depression, cant say that I suffer from that malady. I guess I have been blessed with an awesome family esp husband were that would be dealt with very promptly. I dont think that it is BAD to feel depressed at stages in life BECAUSE THAT IS LIFE with ups and downs. To stay in a slump is not healthy and one needs to look at the big picture and start giving out love and attention to others and not continuously focus on your state ~ give and you will receive life. There is so much about us that we can appreciate and look forward to SO lets not give place to the stealer of life.
    Thinking of you, P

  • Stringfree says:

    Hi Penny
    Thanks for the input and kind words. Life has its ups and downs and we are all susceptible to feeling blue every so often. The problem comes when you live on chemicals to put yourself into a happy state. I believe the pharmaceutical industry makes a heavy play on that by supplying the means to be happy.
    The key is as you say to focus on what we have to give to others as well as to appreciate what we have.

  • Bill Zimmermann says:

    I find your comment reprehensible. First of all depression is a very serious situation for any human being to be in. It is confusing it is baffling and it is very strange. Confronting depression when one is in a depressed state is one of the most difficult things a human being can do. It is also extremely difficult to diagnose yourself deal with societies opinion about depression and it is also difficult to admit it to yourself. Taking the cavalier attitude towards the analysis of depression and flinging ideas around as you do in your post is irresponsible and borderline stupid. It is also dangerous but appreciate your efforts. Even though what you had to say doesn’t change a thing it might help people think a little bit so I do appreciate your post, but I still think it’s reprehensible due to a combination of good and bad within the post itself. 

    People who have never been depressed often write about it in this manner. So I don’t accuse you personally of stupidity. However, one must be very careful when approaching or broaching a topic of this magnitude. Science is baffled by depression, most antidepressant medications do not work. It has been proven that a 45 min. walk every day does more for the depressed person than any antidepressant drug. 

    Also there is a huge profit motive and the drug culture of our country. It is no mystery that Americans spent billions of dollars trying to feel better about their lives. We are no closer to answer the new word 10 years ago but I believe that we are beginning to understand that it is the American way of life that is threatening our mental health. Mental health issues are wide and long and complex. So let’s not confuse them with simple solutions that stab aimlessly missing the heart of the solution entirely.

    In my journey through depression I have learned that proper diet and a disciplined mind are the two most important things next to exercise. Martial arts and meditation particularly mindfulness meditation which is a waking alert type of meditation appear to be seriously effective towards the resolution of depression. Yoga and other modalities of exercise appear to be quite effective as well. No depressed person is identical to another. However there are solutions and I believe one of the top three cures for depression Is good fellowship with other human beings. I believe that quality friends and inspiring people are a huge influence on the depressed mind. It is very difficult to make friends in our society but it is harder for depressed people to make quality inspiring and successful friends. All these things considered it appears we have a lot of work to do. Thank you for your post and I hope this perspective helps.

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