posted on Oct, 13 2009 @ 12:21 AM
Actually, depression isn't a common psychological ailment. It is a common mood. Considerable confusion arises because we don't
distinguish between depression, and depressive illness. There is a huge difference between the two.
Depression is common. It is a mood. Everyone has times when he is depressed. It is a normal and healthy part of life. You get a bad test grade,
you feel depressed. Someone runs over your dog, you lose a job, your significant other gives you grief, etc., etc., it is reasonable to feel
depressed about it for a while. If you suffer a serious loss without feeling depressed, that is not a good sign. It suggests that you might be
stifling your emotions, which could cause problems.
But basically, if your life sucks for any reason, it is a normal and healthy response to feel depressed about it.
With normal, healthy depression, you mourn your loss, then life goes on. Maybe your friends come over to cheer you up, and it works. Maybe you just
"snap out of it" by yourself. Maybe it's just that time heals all wounds, and you let go and move on with your life.
Depressive illness is vastly different. It is an illness. Although traditionally regarded as a psychological problem caused by early emotional
traumas, researchers are increasingly coming to believe that depression (and other psychiatric illnesses) is actually a brain illness, an imbalance of
chemicals in the brain. Some believe that early emotional traumas may lead to permanent changes in the brain's chemistry; others think that the
defect is hereditary. In either case, these chemical imbalances can be measured.
With depressive illness, you may feel depressed, even when life doesn't suck. Or your response to sucky things in life is excessive, out of
proportion to what happened. So, for example, things are going OK, but then you can't seem to enjoy life, can't seem to get out and do things, meet
friends, etc. Or, you do poorly on a test and have a total meltdown, hide under the covers for a week and so on. Your mood isn't appropriate to
your situation. What makes it depressive illness, instead of plain old depression, is that you aren't able to bounce back, to snap out of it, to let
go and move on. You're stuck there without the necessary resources to fix it.
Unfortunately, since everyone experiences depression, they tend to assume that anyone who is showing a depressed mood is just experiencing normal
depression. Since most people can snap out of that, they expect the sufferer to be able to do it, too. They blame him for his suffering, telling him
he's weak, that he's not trying hard enough, etc. This is one of the cruelties of the disease. Not only do you suffer, you are blamed for your own
suffering, abandoned by your loved ones who don't understand.
For many people - possibly the majority - the notion of a spiritual solution to depression is valid. Often we feel depressed because our lives are
unfulfilling, empty, meaningless. A depressed mood is an appropriate response to such a life. Taking steps to enrich our lives is an appropriate way
to overcome the mood.
For those suffering depressive illness, however, this won't work. No amount of positive thinking or meditation is going to replace the missing
amines in the brain. At best, they may help reduce the intensity of the depression, but they cannot alleviate it. Worse, when the efforts prove
ineffective, the sufferer is often blamed for this, for a lack of "faith", for "negativity", for lack of effort. This is very much like blaming a
paraplegic for not getting out of his chair, saying he's not trying hard enough, he's too negative. The reality is that he *cannot* do it.
Same with depressive illness. It's not laziness, weakness, apathy, or wickedness that keeps him down. It's a chemical imbalance. He cannot muster
up the resources to overcome the mood. He cannot "snap out of it" or "think happy thoughts". The chemicals that enable someone to do that are
missing from his brain. Often medicine is the most effective remedy. Sometimes other forms of therapy are also helpful, to help the person overcome
the emotional problems that arise from being misunderstood and despised.
Using medicine to treat normal, healthy depression is a VERY BAD IDEA. It interferes with normal healing. For depressive illness, medication may be
the only effective treatment. If you need it, you need it, no matter how much you want to be pure and spiritual.