This is all speculative – depression

I’m catching up on some old podcasts and this morning I was listening to an episode of Q. Jonah Lehrer was on (warning – very cute!)  He was talking about his article in the NYTimes called Depression’s Upside.

A few choice lines that got me thinking:

"Instead, the paradox of depression has long been its prevalence. While most mental illnesses are extremely rare — schizophrenia, for example, is seen in less than 1 percent of the population — depression is everywhere, as inescapable as the common cold."

"For some unknown reason, the modern human mind is tilted toward sadness and, as we’ve now come to think, needs drugs to rescue itself. The alternative, of course, is that depression has a secret purpose and our medical interventions are making a bad situation even worse. Like a fever that helps the immune system fight off infection — increased body temperature sends white blood cells into overdrive — depression might be an unpleasant yet adaptive response to affliction."

During the podcast he said something to the effect that having depression is a natural way for a person to work out their large problems. A person will lose appetite and sex drive because they are totally focused on solving the problems at hand.  this is all very general of course and doesn’t take into account the specifics of anybody’s situation, nor the severity of depression. I think it would apply more to situational depression instead of persistent depression.  Moving along, he mentioned that there are pretty much two camps. The therapy camp and the medication camp. The therapy camp is about giving people the tools to work things out themselves, and the medication camp is about giving people meds to make them happy. He then postulates that using the medication prevents people from being able to problem solve because they are happy more often so they don’t develop the skills.

Again I’m over simplifying what he said.

So this all got me to thinking.  Depression often runs in families.  If the parents are medicated and/or do not develop any coping mechanisms themselves, they likely don’t teach/model to their children how to cope with hard life situations.  That in turn would leave the children unprepared to face difficult times and more likely to fall into depression because they don’t know how to deal. Then they have kids and the cycle goes on until it’s normal for everyone to be depressed and medicated.

I’m not saying there is no place for medication because there are definitely some people who suffer greatly from depression.  I’m just wondering if there is a way to break this hypothetical cycle, or to lessen it’s impact.

What do you think?

On this day;

In 2009 –
In 2008 –
In 2007 – speculation of the rooster variety
In 2006 – war treaties
In 2005 – are all exes insane?

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10 Comments on “This is all speculative – depression”

  1. metahara says:

    Culture impacts our ability to process sadness as well.
    Yes, someone will die in your family. Now, will you walk the streets to sad music that changes to an upbeat “I fly away” type of song that reminds us to be grateful for the life that was lived?
    Will you go to a stoic funeral where no one cries or will you wail and let it all out, leave it at the burial?
    You may be a widow or a divorced single mother, will you have a culture that respects you or chastises you? Will you have a support system to help you through?
    Do you have friends that make you laugh and sit with you while you cry? is that part of the culture or not?
    When you are 12 is there a ritual that brings all family, friends- loved ones, to celebrate the transition you are about to embark on into teen hood. Will you have the ritual in your memory to help ground you?
    or not?
    Does your spiritual practice suggest you find things to be grateful for everyday? or are you asked to find things to be ashamed of, guilty for, you sinner, you?
    Do you work out daily by plowing fields or walking to and from work?
    where you work is there fresh air, plant life or flourescent lights?
    These things contribute.

  2. metahara says:

    Culture impacts our ability to process sadness as well.
    Yes, someone will die in your family. Now, will you walk the streets to sad music that changes to an upbeat “I fly away” type of song that reminds us to be grateful for the life that was lived?
    Will you go to a stoic funeral where no one cries or will you wail and let it all out, leave it at the burial?
    You may be a widow or a divorced single mother, will you have a culture that respects you or chastises you? Will you have a support system to help you through?
    Do you have friends that make you laugh and sit with you while you cry? is that part of the culture or not?
    When you are 12 is there a ritual that brings all family, friends- loved ones, to celebrate the transition you are about to embark on into teen hood. Will you have the ritual in your memory to help ground you?
    or not?
    Does your spiritual practice suggest you find things to be grateful for everyday? or are you asked to find things to be ashamed of, guilty for, you sinner, you?
    Do you work out daily by plowing fields or walking to and from work?
    where you work is there fresh air, plant life or flourescent lights?
    These things contribute.

  3. Anonymous says:

    you know, i find this very interesting. i had crippling post-partum with my first. no one talked about it; well-intentioned people would tell me to count my blessings, look on the bright side, etc etc. i ran to the doctor to get meds to get me out of my black hole. i wonder if we had been another culture (like, not North American) and i had been surrounded by the kind of support that other cultures offer (taking the baby, real hands-on help with nursing, caring for baby and yourself) if i still would have had to go running to the doctor?
    -meanie

    • tianadargent says:

      That’s a good point. I didn’t have terrible post-partum but the (mild if I compare to others I know) depression I did have totally stemmed from lack of the type of support I wanted/needed.

      • rachaeldoss says:

        Also, post-partum depression has the whole other facet of hormonal imbalance. Mine was also mild comparatively, but it was *so* consuming! If I hadn’t been able to talk about it I think it could have fed on itself and gotten much, much worse.
        I think there is definitely something to having a support system (why else would online chat rooms have become so popular?).
        This sounds like a very, very interesting podcast!

      • rachaeldoss says:

        Also, post-partum depression has the whole other facet of hormonal imbalance. Mine was also mild comparatively, but it was *so* consuming! If I hadn’t been able to talk about it I think it could have fed on itself and gotten much, much worse.
        I think there is definitely something to having a support system (why else would online chat rooms have become so popular?).
        This sounds like a very, very interesting podcast!

    • tianadargent says:

      That’s a good point. I didn’t have terrible post-partum but the (mild if I compare to others I know) depression I did have totally stemmed from lack of the type of support I wanted/needed.

  4. Anonymous says:

    you know, i find this very interesting. i had crippling post-partum with my first. no one talked about it; well-intentioned people would tell me to count my blessings, look on the bright side, etc etc. i ran to the doctor to get meds to get me out of my black hole. i wonder if we had been another culture (like, not North American) and i had been surrounded by the kind of support that other cultures offer (taking the baby, real hands-on help with nursing, caring for baby and yourself) if i still would have had to go running to the doctor?
    -meanie


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