helen-louise (baratron) wrote,
helen-louise
baratron

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a theory of depression

I have a doctor who has been treating me for mental health stuff for years, who I trust with my life and medication even though he's "only" a GP with a special interest in mental health rather than a psychiatrist. He's a remarkably intelligent and perceptive man, and he likes to say things to patients like me to provoke us into taking charge of ourselves.

One of the things my doctor said a while ago that made me angry was this: there's a theory that only people who live in relatively safe situations experience depression. If you live in a country where you can't afford to eat and there's no other way of getting food; and you don't have access to clean water; and you don't know when you might get killed by a disease that modern medicine can cure, that you can't afford the treatment for; or when your government might decide to kill you for speaking out against it... then it would be normal to be angry, frustrated, anxious and depressed. Except the definition for clinical depression specifically excludes being upset because of those sorts of situational things, because they're perfectly reasonable things to be angry, frustrated, anxious or depressed about! Even if people there do feel depressed, you wouldn't necessarily experience the depression of people in more developed countries, because they don't have time - they're too busy trying to survive to be depressed. While the people who can't cope and decide to stop struggling don't have to seek death through active suicide, it will just happen.

It's a thought that makes me angry because I didn't choose to be depressed, and if a simple change of perspective would make my brain biochemistry work the way it's supposed to, I'd embrace it with all my heart and soul. Now I can make myself depressed just thinking about the fact that I'm so lucky in my daily life, and the worst I'm likely to experience on any given day is DRAMA on TEH INTARNETS! But there must be some truth that most living things in the wild undergo a daily struggle to survive; while some of us humans are now lucky enough to live in situations where we have no daily struggle to find food, shelter, warmth or companionship. Was our depression borne from us turning that struggle inwards? Do we, in fact, need some sort of struggle for survival in order to feel properly alive?

If only the depression didn't come with a general dampening down on positive emotions, it'd be great :/
Tags: mental health, thoughts
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