Depression Is A Healthy Response

Depression Is A Healthy Response

Depression can be a healthy response to difficult life situations. It may have evolved as a way for people to remove themselves from stressful activities, by eliminating their interest in them, and to ruminate on whatever complex problem is plaguing them. Depression is one of the hugest growing experiences you'll ever have. It deepens you as a human being, makes you more rational, your thinking more concrete and increases politeness and fairness. Additionally, accepting negative feelings such as sadness can, ironically, lower depression.

Thought I'd share this gold nugget with my "Action on Depression" friends. From an article in Psychology Today.



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39 Replies

  • Hi, Thanks for sharing -- interesting! although not sure if I agree will give it some room for thought though

    Thanks juex

  • I have come to this view myself. When one is overwhelmed by life and everyone expects you to be superwoman, depression is a survival response. Problem is, it can become entrenched. Once upon a time one would have been forced out again for food or to get wood for the fire, but now it is too easy to find people who enable you to stay inside. Then it becomes a habit and is harder and harder to recover.

    Drugs provide a false recovery , instead of helping people find their own solutions or insisting on whatever is causing the problem to be changed .

    This is not dismissing some depression such as post natal, PTSD or other medical conditions, but I feel stress related depression could be overcome once the cause is removed, rather than just being medicated for.

  • for me, my body does not produce enough seratonin so there is a chemical inbalance that anti-depressants help correct. cbt helps me to manage.

    I'm not saying either one helps everyone but they help me.



  • Hi hamble,

    I didnt mean to imply drugs do not have a role, but on their own the person may lose the reason to effect change. CBT, counseling, talking to friends are all ways of analysing the problem and finding solutions. Drugs can help one enough to get you off the floor and out the door, but are they a cure?

  • Especially given that psychiatric drugs are as effective as a placebo. It really does make you wonder. Somewhere I read a great analogy to taking psychiatric drugs: "Using psychiatric drugs to treat a complex psychiatric disorder is a bit like trying to change your engine oil by opening a can and pouring it all over the engine block. Some of it will dribble into the right place, but a lot of it will do more harm than good." I suffer from depression, and I've been prescribed anti-depressants, and I didn't like the effects. One correction and five or six negative effects... And the long-term effects are virtually unknown. I decided not to take psychiatric drugs.

  • Yeah, I agree with this, it has certainly developed for a reason considering so many people have it. But the fact is, the incidence of depression is increasing, esp in the UK and US where far more people are on medication than 5-10 years ago. I read a study on this but can't remember all the facts. A lot of it is linked to the recession. Mine is linked to my disability.

    I also believe in modus operandi (mode of operation). People who have been depressed for most of their lives are afraid to get better as they don't know anythign different, and also it's easier to stay depressed and not make the effort to get better. Catch-22 really because you can get worse when you accept you are depressed.

  • Do you think the incidence is increasing, or are we more self aware now?

  • I think it's increasing. I think it will always have been there for some, but this world has become so obsessed with looks and glamour over the last 100 years it is insane. Who cares about the Beckhams and how skinny she is? We are told she is gorgeous and she became the "thinspiration" of teenagers and young girls to become a size 0. But Jesus, that is unobtainable! The only reason she can do that is because she has money to buy diet pills, drugs to keep her energy up, plastic surgery so she still has boobs, liposuction and a dietician for when she gets very malnourished. Things the average person can't afford. And if she feels too ill to go outside, she doesn't have to but we have to go and actually earn our money.

    I'm not fat, but since I put on weight I am not happy with the way I look. I got comfy with my ex and fell into bad patterns with him. I was happy with him so staying slim didn't matter and I ate things I enjoyed. But since he dumped me I poke at my podgy hips and just want the fat bits to disappear. This is because of photo-shopped images making all the celebrities look amazing and perfect (no face sweat, no cellulite and completely symmetrical). How can we ever live up to that?

    But young girls assume they can achieve this and this is where anorexia comes in. And although I know I can never look like that, I still think I'm unattractive compared to Kaley Cuoco (even though she is cross eyed which they hide well on the BBT). And because of these fake images I don't like the way I look and feel looking good is unachievable.

    We have increasing obesity and malnourishment in this country which leads to depression. Our alcohol consumption is ridiculous and so is our binge-drinking which has increased massively in the last two decades and alcohol is a known depressant. But people drink to forget their problems, that's why I used to do it. But things actually seem worse the next day to me so I stopped.

    So yeah, I really do think depression is increasing. Suicide rates have increased too, so that's more evidence.

  • I've never thought Victoria Beckham is attractive! She needs to put at least three stone on before she can look nice!

  • She's not attractive. But she is an image of glamour, of perfection, an icon. At least that's what the publicity has turned her into. And the media pretty much tells us what to admire and we do it like drones lol (well, a lot of us anyways).

    I remember she became the "thinspiration". Maybe our kids are more easily misled, or we don't protect them as much as we used to. I'd go for the latter I think. We sit them in front of the telly while we play on our phones and sit on FB and don't interact with them. That means the telly is the thing that's teaching them. The parents aren't contradicting the crap the telly produces.

    And I'd say the internet has played a huge part in developing depression too. I deleted my FB because it was making me feel sad and a failure because I saw the other people from my course as successful teachers and getting engaged and married. It was all depressing because they have all achieved what I wanted. In the real world, you would lose contact with them whereas FB demands you stay in touch and look at their pictures. Also, I was tempted to go and look at pics of my ex on his FB which would have been near fatal for me.

    I say ignorance is bliss!

  • WantToChange, LOL! I agree. Social media just adds stress to our lives. I haven't given it up—but I've reduced it dramatically—and it's made me less anxious.

  • Beauty,s in the eye of the beholder. We are all beautiful inside but inner beauty has been forgotten in our egoistic world, so sad.

  • Raised expectations which are unrealistic definitely have a depressing effect. Unfortunately we cannot escape the onslaught of these messages as we used to be able to do.

    Once upon a time, the world was less 'connected and full on' so people had space to go to destress, also people felt more in control. We are now losing control over so many aspects of our life, and are becoming redundant in so many ways. For example, when do we ever get more than a couple of hours away from this intrusive media / internet contact telling us how to live our lives? We have to work all hours just to survive, and the government is taking ever more control over how we do our jobs and what we do with our money.

    Depression is a result of losing control, being 'under the thumb', being 'put upon', having no autonomy or self rule. Just as children of controlling parents often suffer depression, or hen pecked husbands feel downtrodden, we as a society are feeling the strain of living this life.

    Alcohol and drugs are things which give us temporary relief from the pain, and help keep us going. This is why the government allows it, even though it is so bad for individuals. TV used to be called the opium of the people, and now the internet gives us yet another way to feel in control whilst really becoming part of a giant system designed to reel us in. However it is so hard to resist, as everything is dependent on it. So we go to the doctor and he gives us yet more drugs so we can forget our troubles and feel normal, or at least not make any trouble.

  • Regarding unrealistic expectations: Every rise in our levels of expectation entails a rise in the risks of humiliation. And if we do fail, how much sympathy can we expect from other people, when society seems bent on removing every excuse we might have for our failures.

  • "it's easier to stay depressed and not make the effort to get better" Yes, you're right. It's the path of least resistance. Getting better requires accepting that there are opportunities out there—albeit limited opportunities—and accepting that good things can happen.

  • Your post is really interesting (and picture gorgeous), it's made me think. It makes a lot of sense that temporarily removing yourself from life is perhaps a coping strategy. I definitely agree that having depression has made me more reflective. Be interesting to see what the others say :)

  • Hi Richard yes Depression can be a coping strategy but I don't agree that it

    Makes you more rational or makes your thinking more concrete, Depression

    By its nature affects your Cognitive functioning and I think the polite And fairness

    Bit is a joke .

    I think it can be unwise to look at a piece of text out of context as its written by

    Someone who is not a Dr.or Psychologist . Where are the findings or research

    To back any of this up ?

    Richard I love the picture and I suppose it gets us chatting.

    Hannah x

  • Hannah, not wanting to be impolite to Richard or dissful and you know me, I'm alll about the positive.

    However when I read this (and yes the photo is fab) I was eating an ice cream, a choc ice to be precise and I wondered if you super impose the word depression in this quote for Ice Cream....well it does seem to work?

    If I was president it would be free ice cream and chocolate all round :-) thats nutricious right?


  • Hi Caroline, yes yes yes , I think it's pointless dwelling on

    All the negatives about the big D. I'm all for ice cream, yummy.

    How are you ? Missed your fun and gaiety and brightness here.

    H xx

  • Hoorah! Miss you too, you're tops Hannah. Just working hard :-O


  • Hi, thanks for the post and beautiful picture.

    I agree that maybe removing yourself from the problem that's causing you distress could help, but you would have to be careful it doesn't become the norm.

  • My depression hasn't made me more rational but less. I find myself less and less able to cope with stress and accepting negative thoughts makes me feel worse. I just wish my medication would kick in to make me feel more stable. I know it's only been two weeks since I restarted taking it but I had hoped I would feel more positive by now. Any show of concern by friends still makes me fall apart, I don't feel I deserve it. Sorry,this just seems like one long moan . I'd better sign off it's not a good day. Regards Lorna

  • Hi Lorna sorry your not feeling great, I agree with you that Depression makes

    Me less rational and less everything . Please look after yourself .

    Hannah xxx

  • Thanks Hannah. I am trying hard to stay calm , hopefully tomorrow will be a better day. Regards Lorna

  • The bit about accepting sadness reminds me of the quote that goes something like, "Lord please help me change what can be changed, accept what cannot be changed, and give me the wisdom enough to know the difference'.

    Depression is in some ways a state preceding change. If person is very unhappy with the status quo but tries to carry on as normal, then change is likely to occur for some other reason. For instance, if a person is very unhappy in a job that is stressful and keep a stiff upper lip, they may get physically ill and have to leave or be drawn into conflict. Depression may be a way of pre-empting this, thereby saving yourself from an even worse fate, or sparing others from the results of your reactions. To break out of the depression requires finding out what is causing it and finding a solution to the problem. Another quotation that occurs to me is 'Two heads are better than one'. Our society has become more isolated, and we all have such high expectations of each other that we lack the understanding friends we may once have had. I believe this is a major factor behind the increase in depression these days, and the reason for the boom in counseling services.

    Finding a way to change our situation, being proactive, is therefore the ideal. Not everyone is able to do this though, maybe for reasons of responsibilities, or crippling guilt over the consequences. In this case, acceptance can be a way of avoiding depression. If one accepts a situation then the focus can shift from trying to change it, to making the most of it.

    I see medication as interfering with the natural outcome of depression, although it can be useful if there is not time or resource enough to find the source of the problem, and other people are depending on you. Also, if people are not moving on from a period of depression even if the cause has gone away, and have got 'stuck' in a way of life, it may be a helping hand to lift them out of that routine.

  • Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference

    Fascinating discussion. Taking the issue of depression being a positive or a negative. I can see it from both sides. I think depending on the causes of depression, it could be seen as a positive - as it could indicate to us that something isn't right and needs to change. In other words it can be purposeful . Or adaptive.

    However, if people have depression just for the sake of having depression (as there isn't always a cause), then it's negative.

    Take physical pain as an example. We need to have this in order to know we are in danger. However, if the pain is constant - maybe because a person has a condition where they're in pain all of the time - then there's nothing positive about this. Furthermore, it then may become impossible to decipher which pain is a different kind alerting us to danger, and which kind is pre-existing - so can be maladaptive. I think depression can work in exactly the same way.

    I think alamagoosa demonstrates an important point about not dismissing significant, human emotions as an 'illness' - which I believe to be a short fall of modern society.

    Ok, I'm going to leave it here for now because otherwise I will end up with a headache! :) I should be getting to bed. Interesting post and discussion though - thanks! I might add some more thoughts tomorrow. Or later at sunrise seeing as the clock has just struck midnight.


  • Yes, thats the quote I was thinking of, thanks

  • :) xx

  • Lovely picture thanks for posting it. I don't agree with you about depression though. I don't think it is a healthy response at all but rather a way of giving up the fight or retreating for a while. But that's just my view. x

  • I still disagree as we do not look at our problems when we are depressed or are able to think of a way through them. A healthy response would be just tiredness making us slow down or just to physically leave the situation. To me depression is a form of defeat against overwhelming odds and it is very hard to get up again. There is nothing positive about this. x

  • Or depression is the way that we feel when we acknowledge we are unhappy with our circumstances and cannot yet find the way to change them. It is a time to regroup, to rethink, to find support as much as it is a time to rest and avoid further damage. Not doing any of these is what traps you into the long term depressive state.

  • True depression itself traps you in it. So by definition it is very hard to find a way out of it. We will just have to agree to differ won't we? x

  • I agree

  • I don't believe Depression is inherently positive or negative. It's just an emotion. Anger prepares us to move toward what we want, envy urges us to improve our standing, embarrassment allows us to undo an unintentional remark... So-called "negative" emotions can be a good thing.

  • Depression isn't an emotion - it is just a state of mind which is very different. x

  • Depression is a label. When I was abandoned emotionally or abused. Mistreated. When someone died. I felt bad. I know now that you're supposed to feel bad. We just don't have the cohesive society we used to have. The towns where everybody knew each other on my block. Where the teachers knew my parents. where kids grew up and joined the police force in their own town. I knew the cops. Without the support of our own families or communities people end up going to strangers for help. And take chemicals to substitute for the love they never got. grief is real. pain is real. Sadness is real. loss is real. They shouldn't be called mental illnesses. But they are.

  • Got it in one x

  • Hi Richard,

    Terminology, language and meaning are complex at the best of times, when used in relation to depression then this is very tricky territory!

    From my experience: Depression is an involuntary response, as to whether is healthy depends on interpretation and perception. The question would have to be, if the brain didn't react in this way, what would the consequence be?

    I have no problem with the idea that the brain is responding as best it can in a way it believes best. That we have so little control over the onset, likens this to the 'fight or flight' instinct. (Not good or bad in and of itself)

    The best example I can think of is if you have an infection in a limb (say your hand). If only way to stop the infection spreading was to cut the hand off, then YES, that would be better than not cutting it off and letting the infection spread.

    Once someone has depression their ability (the brains ability) to self-reason and resolve is reduced and the long term effects (positive or otherwise) will be dependent on so many factors, I not sure any assertion can really be made with regards it's impact. It may be possible to show that where people engage with medical professionals, receives therapy, take appropriate medication and have support then these people might fell that they are a 'better person' having experienced this illness than they were before.

    People on here are aware of their illness by joining such a community are taking positive steps that will be of benefit to them and others.

    The statement that 'accepting negative feelings such as sadness can, ironically, lower depression' is very broad and ultimately dependent on what you mean by 'accepting'. If someone believes they are a 'bad person' and negative happen to them all the time and they 'accept' this is what there life is, then NO, this will not / cannot lower depression. However if by 'accepting', you mean being able to understand, contextualise, keep in prospective, not reflect any responsibility on to themselves and are able to communicate (when appropriate) any impact with people who are supportive then YES, you probably will be able to 'lower depression'.

    It's great that people think about such issues but as with most things - the devil is in the detail!!

    Unfortunately, there is no absolute with illnesses such as depression, no quick fix, no single explanation and no common experience.

    The good news is, there isn't any such thing as a 'bad person', we all have value. Depression is something that can be managed, local support, medication, therapy etc all have a part to play. Some people will recover quickly, some will make a full recovery, some will gradually get better, some may manage it throughout their lives.

    Depression doesn’t define the person. We all have 'challenges' in life, we all have 'opportunities', whatever we do, we must NEVER give in on ourselves or those around us.

    Ooopss! Sorry, Hadn't intended to post such a long response!

    If people, if WE, are going to manage illnesses such as depression, we need to start by acknowledging that it isn't simple. If we try to simplify then we de-value the individual and re-misrepresent the illness to society.

    I'm aware this, could be / will be / is a negative response, what is important (whether people agree with me or not on anything I have said) is that these discussions take place. They present an opportunity for us to think about our particular situation and reflect on what is said. It also reinforces that others are there, that there are shared experiences, objectives and understands.

    Best wishes


  • 'People on here are aware of their illness by joining such a community are taking positive steps that will be of benefit to them and others.'

    This is my point. By reaching out to each other and sharing our feelings, it is a step to finding the way forwards.

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