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Depressed For a Good Reason

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So often I find people who claim they “have depression”. I ask them a few questions and find they don’t “have depression”; they are perfectly normal and well-adjusted and they are having some bad stuff happening to them.

When did it become a bad thing to feel sad when, say, Mom dies, or “rightsizing” strikes, or the bank forecloses? What dipstick came up with the idea that we should be happy all the time and that we’re somehow broken if we respond appropriately to difficult times?

I find the whole thing depressing. Maybe I should take a pill. Wait, what?

Over at Violent Acres I found an interesting article on depression. The author’s grandmother is the star of this article, and I’d have loved to have met her:

I learned that I wasn’t sad because there was something wrong with my brain. I learned that I was sad because my life sucked.

Go read the rest of the article at Most People Are Depressed For a Very Good Reason.

Anyway… it might be my Buddhist leanings, but I see pain as a part of life. It’s our unconscious’ way of letting us know there’s something injured. The reason a person with leprosy finds their body parts rotting away and falling off is that leprosy destroys their ability to feel pain, so they injure themselves and never notice it.

I remember a good friend a few years ago telling me that she stopped taking antidepressants because she’d “rather feel bad than feel nothing at all”. I worked with her a bit but haven’t seen her since, so I don’t know how she’s doing. Smart lady, though.

I’m not so quick to take a person’s pain away. It might be just what they need to keep.

Update: Powells Books hosts a New Replublic review of The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Disorder by Allan V. Horwitz. (Thanks to Adrian Reynolds’ recent post on NLP Connections.)

Written by Michael DeBusk

February 6th, 2008 at 10:48 pm

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