Monday, September 7, 2009

My Thoughts on the Depression Article

Okay, so I'm ready to talk about my insights on the article I posted the other day.

Do me a favor though, and read through the next 5 paragraphs which recap the main ideas of the article and will also serve as the springboard for my ideas:

1. There is another possibility: that, in most instances, depression should not be thought of as a disorder at all. In an article recently published in Psychological Review, we argue that depression is in fact an adaptation, a state of mind which brings real costs, but also brings real benefits.

2. So what could be so useful about depression? Depressed people often think intensely about their problems. These thoughts are called ruminations; they are persistent and depressed people have difficulty thinking about anything else. Numerous studies have also shown that this thinking style is often highly analytical. They dwell on a complex problem, breaking it down into smaller components, which are considered one at a time.

3. But is there any evidence that depression is useful in analyzing complex problems? For one thing, if depressive rumination were harmful, as most clinicians and researchers assume, then bouts of depression should be slower to resolve when people are given interventions that encourage rumination, such as having them write about their strongest thoughts and feelings. However, the opposite appears to be true. Several studies have found that expressive writing promotes quicker resolution of depression, and they suggest that this is because depressed people gain insight into their problems.

4. But depression is nature’s way of telling you that you’ve got complex social problems that the mind is intent on solving. Therapies should try to encourage depressive rumination rather than try to stop it, and they should focus on trying to help people solve the problems that trigger their bouts of depression. (There are several effective therapies that focus on just this.) It is also essential, in instances where there is resistance to discussing ruminations, that the therapist try to identify and dismantle those barriers.

5. When one considers all the evidence, depression seems less like a disorder where the brain is operating in a haphazard way, or malfunctioning. Instead, depression seems more like the vertebrate eye—an intricate, highly organized piece of machinery that performs a specific function.

Okay, are you ready? Here goes:

I have a personality that really, really *likes* to analyze everything. I like to find patterns. I like to know *why* to everything (and I always have, much to my poor mother's dismay. "Because I'm your mother and I said so" would be her reply after I argued with all of her reasons.)

Because of my analyzing preference, I feel that my dwelling on things and thinking and rethinking helps me to makes sense of my world. It helped me to realize that my serotonin levels were probably at their all time low and to research what naturally builds serotonin. It was also that same analytic preference that helped me last year to discover how to heal my ulcers w/o medication.

I realize that not everyone likes to pull apart and dissect every thought to make sense of *why* they feel that way or *why* they do the things they do. Some people would like to tell me to quit analyzing them, too. My mother was one of those people ("Mom, why do you feel that way?" "I don't know, Melody, I just do." "But why do you *think* you feel that way?" and so on. Poor Mom!)

My help also came in friends' responses to my dilemmas. Their insights were so valuable to help me see something that I couldn't because I was close to the problem. You know, the old "can't see the forest because of the trees" problem. Thank heaven for good friends!

For some people, though, I think medication is a great way to go. If I hadn't pulled out of my terrible funk from a few weeks ago, I would have scheduled myself an appointment with my doc and asked for something. Thankfully. thankfully. I pulled out of it. I have been myself more in the past week or two than I have been in months. I feel so much better. I hope I don't fall back into that abyss again, but if I do, being the dwelling, analytical, ruminator I am, you will be one of the first people to know.

If any of you feel like I did, I hope that you will meditate and pray to know what to do for yourself. Every body is different. No one deals with things the same way. Everyone is a complex person and everyone's help will come in different ways. I just hope that you *will* get help, because life is a beautiful thing and should be lived, not just endured.



  1. I know this has nothing to do with this entry on your blog, but I wanted to let you know that I updated and posted an entry for August 10th on our blog...I just didn't want you to miss anything!! I love you Aunt Melody!!

  2. I am the saaaaaame way.
    Why? is at the core of me, I think. :)

    I love getting into that space and tearing things apart. I find much not only satisfaction in it, but resolve.

    It's freeing, for me.