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Nancy Schimelpfening

Depression: Defect or Defense Mechanism?

By January 21, 2013

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Could it be that depression, as painful as it is, is actually a defense mechanism and not a disease? Paul Keedwell, a specialist in depression at the section of Neuroscience and Emotion, Institute of Psychiatry, London and author of the book "How Sadness Survived" takes on this intriguing question.

In his book, Keedwell argues that depression leads to positive characteristics like increased resilience, empathy and creativity and he gives examples of highly successful people--Winston Churchill and Michelangelo to name a few--who have suffered from depression. He also suggests that the reason it has persisted and is so commonplace is that it has served us well in our survival.

The idea that depression may be so prevalent because it's an inborn defense mechanism and in fact is "normal" may seem like a shocking idea to many, but what if he is right? Are we making a mistake by medicating away our feelings of sadness?

I believe that depression, in many instances, does serve a purpose. Think about it this way. What happens if you touch a hot stove? You feel pain and quickly pull your hand away. I think depression can serve the same purpose. For example, if you are in a bad relationship, you feel depressed. The pain of the depression, much like the pain in your hand when you touched the stove, is a signal from your brain that you need to stop doing what you are doing. If someone told you to take a painkiller instead of removing your hand from the stove you'd think they were crazy, right? So, why do we accept the idea of taking an antidepressant to stop the emotional pain instead of fixing whatever it is in our life that is wrong?

What do you think? Is depression a defense mechanism or a defect? Share your thoughts below.

January 29, 2008 at 5:58 pm
(1) DanK says:

I think even if this hypothesis is true, anti-depressants would still have a place. To carry on your analogy, you may need to put some cream or a band-aid on your burnt hand to ease the pain and prevent infection, depending on how bad the burn is, but the complete cure comes when you stop putting your hand on the hot stove. Similarly, you may need anti-depressants to ease pain and prevent further damage (suicide, disturbance of brain structures, etc.), but your cure comes with understanding what causes or triggers the depression, and how to deal with it in better ways. This is probably why medicine + therapy consistently provides the best outcomes in studies.

January 30, 2008 at 4:00 am
(2) Rose says:

I agree but lets be sure there is medication along with it.There needs to be a kind of painfree zone to process stuff and learn HOW to Stay away from the “hot stove” In cases of abuse, the abuse happens on many levels, notable for it’s dysfunction. There has been no pattern learned to protect the victim from emotional pain. The title really bothers me. “Sadness Survived This Time” or “Sadness Survived Long Enough For The Cildren To Grow Up” Depression ISN’T sadness for one thing, which is our first clue. Here is another wounded child trying to blame someone close to him for their depression. “It’s your fault! Why didn’t you just go away to die? It’s painful to watch you in pain, why didn’t someone see it and help you?” We are only just beginning to see the intelligence behind Depression, and the viable possibilites for help. Why not just say,”She may be bipolar but she’s not a drunk!” If we continue to treat ANY people, (especially children), like movable numbers of objects, instead of being strong enough and brave enough to interact with them we will always have these squalling babies trying to blame someone instead of seeing the possible solutions!

January 30, 2008 at 5:49 am
(3) Nancy says:

This theory does not take into account endogenous depression. There is no “hot stove” just an unreasonable angst at the bottom of a dark well. The mind in its attempt to be rational will even search for a something to attach the depression to, the horse following the cart. I have observed and experienced this. Even when depression is a result of “falling back to regroup” antidepressants have their place. One only needs continued discomfort not extreme pain to initiate change and antidepressants are not anesthesia or a cure but a vehicle for better quality of life.

January 30, 2008 at 6:12 am
(4) Beverly says:

I agree with Nancy. The theory doesn’t take into account depression that’s influenced/caused by hormonal shifts. I also don’t believe one should equate sadness with depression; they aren’t the same. they can and often do coexist together.

January 30, 2008 at 6:31 am
(5) Bobby D. says:

You don’t know what you don’t know about depression, and about life, really. We are probably still not on the right tracks for solving depression .

Hot stove analogy. Sheesh. Clinical, treat resistant depression may turn out to be a sleep issue in some cases. (I don’t see much written about the hypothesis, “If the psych drugs don’t help your depression, you don’t have depression.”)

There are more and more Psychiatrists (MD’s), the first type of degreed physicians to study depression, who now title themselves, for example, Dr. Lin, Psychiatry/sleep disorders.

I am a a very positive person. Always have been. I treat my sleep apnea with a bipap machine and take heart meds at night so they don’t make me sleepier if I were to take them during the day. And I still want to lie down!! I can take a psych med, such as Wellbrutrin, known for keeping one awake, and lie down for a 3 hour nap. I am not interested in taking a med that keeps me up just because my mind/body says go take a nap. I tell myself, “The more naps you take the more money you make.”

I don’t know what I don’t know but I do know that I likely will achieve what I conceive and believe, so long as I do my best to make money and work effectively while I am not sleeping.

My fawn Boxer, Chester, sleeps 16 hours a day and does okay for his life. I have neutered him, but only the Vet and my ex-girlfriend thought it would help him be nicer. It didn’t help.

I gave him plastic testicles to replace the real ones and he still isn’t very sociable. However, despite being clueless about his missing body parts, he still takes care of them. He just doesn’t know what…..

January 30, 2008 at 6:35 am
(6) Bobby D. says:

Referring to the comment I left about not knowing what one doesn’t know, I forgot to ask all y’all if you have a clue about what I got. Thanking you in advance.

Bobby D.

January 30, 2008 at 6:45 am
(7) Jonathan says:

I believe this analogy is true for a reactive depression but not for endogenous depression. I believe that endogenous depression is a nutrional dissorder called hypoglycemia.


January 30, 2008 at 9:15 am
(8) Tanja K says:

Umm… if I didn’t medicate, I would just lie in bed and cry. Who would pay my bills? I can’t imagine it could be normal. I do get artistic inspiration but that isn’t enough to have a life.

January 30, 2008 at 9:23 am
(9) Ann says:

For me, that analogy does seem to apply and I have been able to work through my depression and situations. Unfortunately, two auto accidents have left me with severe back pain and the inability to do all the things I love for over 5 years now and I have been depressed for 4 years. I do take an antidepressant. I do think everyone is an individual with their own history, genetics, and hormonal makeup and what may apply to one definitely does not apply to all.

January 30, 2008 at 9:30 am
(10) DaveG says:

Perhaps there is some merit to this theory. However, in my case depression does not seem to lead to greater creativity or empathy. My depression manifests most often AFTER a major event. In other words, it seems I get most depressed when I have over-extended myself.
In the hot stove analogy, I feel the most pain after I remove my hand. That is when I want to withdraw. The analogy breaks down in that I often don’t notice the pain when I am living an event (hand on stove). That may be just because I am not paying attention.

I am torn about medication. I have tried it and then gone cold. I don’t seem to notice a leveling while on meds. I have tried Prozac, Paxil, Neurontin, and Lexapro. The Neurontin seemed to make me feel worse–even suicidal, the paxil was useless, the prozac helped for a while, and the Lexapro seems to work, but makes me somewhat lethargic.
I am fairly certain that the basis for my depression stems from the severe abuse I experienced as a child. Contemporary life events probably trigger the underlying depression. Based on that, how can my depression be seriving me in my surival?

January 30, 2008 at 9:46 am
(11) elaine says:

Medication has worked very well for me. Uncontrollable crying and staying in bed was hardly creative. Of course, I’m also learning how to manage the chaos that it life, on top of it. One point though. It seems as though the researcher is making assumptions regarding Churchill and Michealangelo, and others. We have no way of knowing, if the Churchills of the world, etc would have accomplished even more, been more creative, if their issues surrounding depression had been addressed.

January 30, 2008 at 10:59 am
(12) Michele says:

Hand on a hot stove? Sad because you’re in a bad relationship? Very bad examples of depression. Do I need medication so that I can leave my hand on the stove? No. I should absolutely remove my hand immediately. But what if it’s 3 years later and my hand still hurts? No scars, no detectable nerve damage. . . and yet my hand hurts so much that I can’t use it. (THAT is depression). No one would deny me medication for chronic pain if it made my hand useful again.

One of the previous posters said sadness isn’t depression. That’s absolutely spot on. For me depression is a physical impairment, not just an emotional one. It would be great if all I needed to do was to excise the things that make me sad from my life. Bad relationship(s), bad job, bad friends, bad food. . . all of which I have done at one time or another while in a deep depression. . . and yet the pain remains. The only thing that has worked is medication.

If I had diabetes or asthma, only a quack doctor or author would tell me I needed to change my outlook on life instead of taking medicine for my condition. (Or like one great doctor told me: that I only needed to settle down, get married and have children & then my life would have meaning, and thus no more depression!)

Bah. There out to be a cosmic law or something that says you can’t opine about depression unless you’ve had the real thing.

January 30, 2008 at 11:49 am
(13) Catfish says:

I agree with Tanya K. The diagnosis of true depression is when you can’t rebound and start feeling better on your own. Antidepressants are supposed to pull you out of it or help you until you get better. Before I found anything that helped I went years without being able to sleep properly and not being able to find reason to get off the couch.

January 30, 2008 at 11:55 am
(14) Brenda says:

When will people wake up and realize that depression is a medical condition that can’t be explained away as being sadness, and that it isn’t a defense mechanisim for survival.
I have suffered, and I do mean suffered, from clinical depression all of my life. The fact that my family background includes relatives with depression, and the fact that I suffered abuse from incest for 7 years, could have something to do with the fact that if I don’t take medication I could not function. Medication has literally saved my life, and I have been in and out of therapy most of my adult life. When you put your hand on a hot stove, it doesn’t hurt for the rest of your life. When you are a child in a situation you cannot get out of, but are forced to endure something that will literally do an immeasurable amount of damage to the psyche, to the soul, to the very depth of your mind,….don’t even compare that to putting a hand on a hot stove. Obviously, those who have never experienced deep depression are in no position to judge what depression really is.

January 30, 2008 at 12:00 pm
(15) Kayla Porter says:

There are two types of depression. One is depression caused by circumstances and the other is biological. You can not treat them the same way. For biological depression, medication is very effective. It is a serious illness and should not be be treated as a trivial problem.

January 30, 2008 at 1:06 pm
(16) Jorie Porter says:

I don’t think you have a very good grasp of what depression is. There is no question that our emotions are provided for us to cope with life. But what about when life is just fine, in fact really good, but you still can’t get out of bed because it is too difficult to deal with?
Therapy is effective for depression because with a good counselor sufferers learn to recognize the difference between the illness and other issues (for example: unaddressed issues based on events that have happened to them. This is where bad relationships come in.) But even when you are able to sort these things out and you know what you are feeling is the illness you have a rotten time. There can be anxiety, fear, physical pain, inability to deal with ordinary social interactions, moodiness, and feelings of despair.
These feelings are not going to preserve your life. And for many people medication is the only way to feel ‘normal’.
Please don’t trivialize the illness because too many people don’t get the help they need.

January 30, 2008 at 1:35 pm
(17) Gary Darrar says:

There are too many variables to depression to make a blanket statement saying it’s a positive thing.

Creativity comes from depression? I would rephrase that and say people susceptible to depression probably have a higher degree of creativity. If given the choice I definitely would not want top be depressed just to be creative. I had Clinical Depression and I can say without a doubt I was far from being creative.

Yes, going thru depression did change my life and made me a much better and happier person. How? When I came out of depression it felt like I had been given a second chance at life or being born all over again and realizing all the things in life I had been missing. It was like being told I had 3 months to live then finding out they made a mistake. It makes you look at life much differently and you want to make up for all the lost time you wasted. That’s about the only “positive” thing it did for me. I would not wish depression on my worst enemy.

Did this depression specialist ever go thru depression? Somehow I seriously doubt it.

January 30, 2008 at 3:50 pm
(18) ShayeinSD says:

I think, we all agree that Depression is still very much misunderstood. And there ARE different experiences and different causes for depression. The ‘sadness of depression’ after a death or such is Normal and it is needed to happen for us to go on. To me this is not the disease of Depression. This is SADNESS.
My experience of Depression has never felt like ‘sadness’; for me it is more of a flat lining my emotions; no pain, no joy, no memory. Some of this is a behavioral habit I modeled after my mother’s coping skills; to survive as a child in a verbally abusive environment. To just be there in body yet take my ‘thoughts’ away so I was not in emotional pain. I was also ‘taught’ this behavior by my parents- especially my father- that it was inappropriate to display ANY emotion at any time. “Big girls don’t cry!” “What are you laughing at?” “Don’t you raise your voice to me!” “Grow up!” “That’s not funny!” Etc. Etc.
I am 58. I was first diagnosed with Depression about 20 years ago; I refused to take meds because some doctor saw me for 5 minutes and thought I should. Talking monthly with a counselor about ‘my father’ didn’t really help me, it allowed me to put all the blame on him (by this time he had been dead for 17 years) and not have to ‘heal myself’. Then in my late 40’s a severe trauma caused me to ‘crash’ emotionally. That is when a wise doctor informed me “most people are happy most of the time”. This was not even a concept to me.
She explained the biological reasons that meds help most people. Now I take meds. These help me to refrain from physically harming myself to get rid of the ‘pain’; suicide being the worse physical harm. My doctor and I are working on the right amounts so that I’m not a zombie on the meds. And I no longer feel any where near taking my own life, but I still have trouble expressing my emotions appropriately. I used to wake up each morning with the conscience thought “If the day goes too badly, I can always kill myself”. I ‘survived’ for years this way. This was my security blanket, the ONE thing I felt I had control over, my ‘LIFE’!
Being the eldest of 8 in an alcoholic family, it was inbred in me to ‘keep the peace’. Thus I learned to display NO emotion, to hide my feelings; mostly by episodes of sleeping continually or ‘going away’. In my family, most of my siblings still self medicate with alcohol and drugs, one brother died due to substance abuse. One other brother just thinks if I was ‘busier’ than I wouldn’t have time for depression, like his busy wife who now has cancer. One sister condemns me for having to take ‘happy pills’ while she downs two six-packs every night and smokes.
I think the benefit of any article that attempts to enlighten people about depression, shows that there is still research going on and that it ‘explains’ some of the reasons, causes, suggestions for the multitude experiences of Depression. For myself, I also monitor my diet and my ‘mood’. When I FEEL like ‘hiding’ I try to think of why. I allow myself to display my emotions more readily and I am getting more appropriate about these displays. In the beginning I thought that I’d never stop crying; once the cork was off the bottled up emotions of a lifetime, it took awhile to relearn new expressions. I always felt on the outside looking in at life. Now I am much more engaged in life. And if I want to avoid a situation or a person, I give myself permission to do something else entirely, so I don’t have to ‘hide’.
A little long, but Depression is a complicated dis-ease, and there is NO one size fits all cure!

January 30, 2008 at 3:57 pm
(19) Chantal says:

If thats not the million dollar question… for me that is???? I use to think I was just stupid, over senitive and just a person that does not fit in well — need less to say that is NOT who I am or want to be. Now at age 34 I releazed that this is not something I have control over — I take medication and it helps but I still suffer the ups and downs – FOR NO REASON WHAT SO EVER — I really hate my brain and I can not control my emotions like a normal brain – I need the help, I am unable to work. I am glad that I found out that I am not losing my mind but I really feel that I am suffering and if I could control my damn brain — trust me I would be working full time in a very stressful business and not let my brain ruin my life — I hate this way of life and I never would ever hope to have anyone suffer this bullshite of life — I want to be successful but my emotions get the best of me and it has ruined many things along the way. This is something that needs to be understood!! I DO NOT WANT TO REACT OR THINK THE WAY I DO – it sucks!!

January 30, 2008 at 5:23 pm
(20) Pushing thru... says:

Just read all the comments. I too have suffered most of my life from depression and find the analogy of the “hot stove” to really miss the mark. I would venture to say that if anyone who has ever experienced true depression could avoid the “hot stoves” of life that they would at all cost. Get real!! There is definitely so much more to be discovered and advancements to be made in the area of understanding depression. I would just like to throw out to the many sufferers ( knowing there will probably be a backlash of comments) that God is the answer. God provides what no pill, no therapist, nothing else can provide. He is the great “I am”, and the Ultimate healer. Look to Him, read His word..and Hear His voice. May God Bless You, and give you His Peace. My depression is very heavy right now and has been for a long, long time. When it is not heightened it is still present, and underlying like a thick black cloud or heavy blanket looming overhead. I would not be here if it weren’t for my relationship and the comfort and help that I receive from my God Almighty. I will someday know the reason for this thorn..I am a creative person, and I am a very empathetic person..not sure which came first or if I was just wired to be this way all along. Perhaps the purpose is to draw us closer to our Father in Heaven. Rely on Him who created you. With Love.

January 30, 2008 at 6:35 pm
(21) Elizabeth says:

I’ve suffered from depression for many years, possibly all my life. It took nearly 2 years of trial an error but my doctor and I have finally found the medication regimen that works. It is not a “mistake” for me and we are not “medicating away” my feelings of sadness. Also, my suffering from depression is not a “defect.” It is a chemical imbalance in my brain that is kept under control by medication and a great therapist.

January 30, 2008 at 6:57 pm
(22) maygeigh says:

I would be thrilled to find a medication that took away my feelings of “sadness” (by which the author means depression). Antidepressants, at their best, take the edge off so those of us with the disease can function, still often at a reduced level (I am maxed out on Wellbutrin and still need a 3 hour nap each day. I exercise, eat well, go to therapy, do everything “right”, and I’m still in the middle of it.) I appreciate everyone’s comments and thoughtfulness.

January 30, 2008 at 8:46 pm
(23) Bob Anderson says:

The word depression in itself hurts trying to break the stigma of this devastating illness.The example of the stove is good for grieving or sadness.these feelings heal with time and keep our guard up and strengthen us.With clinical depression if the switch in your brain is stuck on the depressed side,meds can help and sometimes the only thing that can help flip that switch back to the non depressed side.I only wish we could break the stigma so many more people in our society would feel comfortable enough to seek help,so they could hopefully experience the same life changing results that many of us have experienced.aLL OF SOCIETY WILL BENEFIT.fOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE STILL SUFFERING HANG IN THERE ,YOU MAY NOT HAVE RECEIVED THE RIGHT MEDS OR CARE.i TOO FEEL SLEEP IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE,AND OF COURSE KEEPING THE STRESS LEVELS AT MANGABLE LEVELS,AND THAT IS DIFFERENT FOR ALL INDIVIDUALS.

January 30, 2008 at 9:06 pm
(24) Mary says:

This makes a great deal of sense to me.
My shrink (prescriber of my antidepressants) asked me, “You come in here and say that you are depressed and I wonder who you are so angry with”. I thought about it and realized that beside myself, I was very angry with my significant other. I broke up with him and my mood actually lifted quite a bit.
I watch what people do a whole lot more than what they say…….and I do the same with myself. My true self knows what I am thinking and feeling better than my mind knows.

January 31, 2008 at 12:27 am
(25) Stac says:

Good Lord! This man calls himself an expert!?! May God save us from the “experts”! I was diagnosed with depression when I was 10. This was in the 80′s when “kids don’t get depressed”. Turns out I had been suffering pretty much from the time I was born but no-one seemed to know what the problem was. It apparently runs rampant in both sides of my family, ie drug and alcohol abuse. I was the lucky one, I’m still alive and I’ve always been clean!
I was put on meds, which helped, but they didn’t help as we had hoped. I learned about 12 years ago that I was actually bi-polar and they had only been treating half of the problem. I’ve tried to stop taking my meds and I either lay in bed for days crying for no reason, or I’m so manic that everyone wants to choke me. I finally realized that this was a life long issue. I hate taking pills, but the alternative in something that no-one can or should have to live with. Back on track now… Seriously, this guy should have HIS head examined…FOR A BRAIN!!!!!!!!!!

January 31, 2008 at 12:27 am
(26) Carolyn says:

I have suffered from severe depression all of my life. It is not a defect, but a real condition that is very difficult to live with. Anyone who likens depression to a “defect” doesn’t understand depression, and those of us who have it don’t like to be thought of as defective because we aren’t. We’re suffering from an illness that others cannot see, nor understand.

The sensitivity that makes me an able artist (I’m a professional illustrator) comes partly from the strong sensitivity that comes with the depression itself. I’ve been to countless therapists, taken antidepressants for years and am high functioning, but nobody knows the torture that depression has put upon me on a daily basis: inability to sleep or feel truly happy, etc. My depression came from a childhood full of abuse at the hands of a violent family member. I have spent my life fighting to overcome it, and the last thing I want to label myself as, is defective. I am able, strong and a survivor. And most of those with depression are as well.

November 17, 2011 at 5:05 pm
(27) spencer smith says:

depression being a defect has nothing to do with it being real or not. defect means something that is wrong. depression symptoms or inherited inbalanced brain chemistry, or depression caused circumstantially from life is a defense mechanism. you could look at it as defect i guess in that it is a change in your brain that causes pain.

January 31, 2008 at 12:33 am
(28) Stac says:

To Bob THANK YOU!!!! I want to thank you for what you said. I don’t know where you learned this, family or personal experience, but it is very true. I hope more people start to understand the a true clinical diagnosis of depression or bi-polar disorder isn’t all in the suffers head, or caused by anything in particular other than just being born that way.

January 31, 2008 at 12:40 am
(29) Stac says:

To maygeigh. Have you had a sleep study done? I know it sound crazy (no pun intended LOL), but I had one done and I’ve noticed a significant difference when we determined that I wasn’t getting the “right” type of sleep (delta sleep). I’m on Rozerem now and I’ve noticed an improvement in not only my daytime sleepiness and fatigue, but a difference in my bi-polar. You might want to look into that if you can. I don’t know if it would help, but learning I also had a sleep problem has made a difference. i hope this is helpful. GOOD LUCK AND REMEMBER YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

January 31, 2008 at 4:20 am
(30) Lois says:

Those of a sensitive nature experience depression & if only life allowed us time to deal with the emotions that arise as a result of life experiences, we would have less need for drugs & be in less of a hurry to suppress what life brings up emotionally. I believe depression is a result of supressing ones feelings & not feeling free enough to express who we truely are. In order to fit into society we are made to feel we must take drugs & get on with life & pretend we are fine…quick fix. From my experience I agree with the hot stove senario & say we are told it is not ok to be emotional & it must be controlled through drugs.

January 31, 2008 at 2:35 pm
(31) Stacy says:

Interesting article. I tend to agree, depression might allow stronger people to learn to overcome their low periods. I do NOT agree to any drug for depression. I am an advocate of proper diet and exercise to increase natural feel good hormones that might be more effective and healthier than any drug on the market. (see side effects)Many times, hormone imbalance, poor diet and lack of exercise can cause poor self image and other issues that might lead to depression.

January 31, 2008 at 6:55 pm
(32) Z says:

In this life we will have ups and downs. Things will happen. As a person you have to learn to deal with these things. In my opinion, SOME people would much rather wallow in self pity than get up and do something. What does laying around crying solve? Nothing. Thats like an alcoholic drinking to “forget” their problems. One thing remains, when you sober up…the problem is still there. I think we need to become stronger as individuals. Become more spiritual and faithful and stop relying so much on medication. How does a pill make your day better? I dont really think it does, but because you take it…you believe that its actually helping. What if the pill wasnt made to do anything except give you the boost that you needed? Im not saying that depression doesnt exist or that it cant be life threatening, I just believe there are other alternatives to dealing with it. Like actually dealing with whatever the problem is in the first place. It may take some time, but working through it is a lot easier to deal with it than crying over it and letting it basically rule your life.

January 31, 2008 at 7:49 pm
(33) Bob Anderson says:

In all do respect I respectfully disagree with Z and Staci.Meds are not the only answer but you would not fight certain cancers without chemo or radiation.Or diabetes without insulin,in some cases untreated depression is the no 1 cause of suicide.We need to use all means available to treat this devastating disease.If you lost someone to suicide you would wish you had a chance to try anything to prevent it.I appreciate all opinions because it raises awareness.I was against meds for 45years because my mom was so heavily medicated.I would rather function at 40% and be me than be a zombie.On my 3rd major breakdown at age 45 I could not beat the depression that time, and I sucumbed to meds because I really had no choice.I actually got worse before i got better,but when I finally came back to life,my life changed forever.I never knew what it was like to live without the underlying depression.I started living instead of surviving and I have experienced things in the last 5 years that I only dreamed of before that.I am very passionate about raising awareness on mental health issues.I am a Huge advocate to pass the Mental Health Parity Bill that is in congress now.This would require health insurence companies to not discriminate on coverage for mental illnesses Vs physical.it is the best therapy for me to get involved in these issues and trying to make a difference.

January 31, 2008 at 9:06 pm
(34) Mindspen says:

Pls don’t take away darkness

I need it to sleep

Pls don’t take away my loneliness

I need to know what differs

Pls don’t take away my pillow I really need a hug

Pls don’t take away my ignorance

I enjoy learning

Pls don’t take away my frustrations

It keeps me well-grounded

Pls don’t take away my dreams

I need direction

Pls don’t take away my pain

I still want to write

Pls don’t take away bad memories

It fuels to draw

Pls don’t take away my music

I really love to dance

And pls don’t leave me now

I just started living

January 31, 2008 at 9:23 pm
(35) Personal says:

I strongly disagree with this theory. From a lifetime of clinical depression and antidepressants being effectivce, at least most of the time in relieving depression, I believe that clicinical depression, NOT situational depression necessarily, is due to an imbalance of the brain chemicals, the neurotransmitters. So what do you do to “fix” this chemical imbalance? Have a doctor help you to find medicine that can restore the normal/rightful balance of the brain chemicals. It isn’t like ceasing drinking or smoking, etc. Something is definitely needed to deal inside the brain with the brain chemicals, the neurotransmitters.

January 31, 2008 at 9:45 pm
(36) Sandy says:

Depression is a terrible disease, but is it really a disease or is a choice? Sandy Copeland used to think that there was something wrong with him but then through a series of unpredictable events he realized that he was choosing to be this way, you can read about him at Depression Novel

January 31, 2008 at 9:46 pm
(37) Sandy says:

Depression is a terrible disease, but is it really a disease or is a choice? Sandy Copeland used to think that there was something wrong with him but then through a series of unpredictable events he realized that he was choosing to be this way, you can read about him at http://novelog.com

November 17, 2011 at 4:58 pm
(38) Spencer says:

no, you need to reconsider and do some more research

January 31, 2008 at 10:27 pm
(39) bonnie k says:

I have depression. My childhood was not great. My parents both passed away by the time I was 14 years old. I think depression is a feeling of loss and sadness. I think it is a defense mechanism to keep my body and heart from experiencing any more pain. Antidepressants do not work for me.

January 31, 2008 at 11:47 pm
(40) Jessie says:

Here is the funny question? “Could it be that depression, as painful as it is, is actually a defense mechanism and not a disease? ”

The only defence mechanism in our bodies are the white blood cells that are use to fight off infection.

“Depression leads to positive characteristics like increased resiliance, empathy and creativity ”

That is so rediculous , I have suffered from this disease for twenty years and depression is a chemical imbalance for some and for others, it is the inability to deal with life’s problems. …..

“I believe that depression, in many instances, does serve a purpose. Think about it this way. What happens if you touch a hot stove? You feel pain and quickly pull your hand away. I think depression can serve the same purpose. For example, if you are in a bad relationship, you feel depressed.”

This is a very bad example here, When I am depressed, I cry and I don’t eat, my sleep is interupted. I can’t stop crying , but I can stop myself from putting my hand on the stove . My brain tells me that once I put my hands on the stove I am going to burn myself, unlike depression, my brain tells me that I am sad and going to cry, but I can’t stop myself because my brain won’t let me . The brain has chemical messengers, one being seritonen, and if there is not enough of this chemical, we get depressed…

February 1, 2008 at 10:03 am
(41) Susan Granquist says:

I agree that depression can be an incentive for change.

Depression can also be entirely debilitating draining away hope, imagination and even the ability to function normally. It can be the result of stress but it can also be the direct result of medical conditions such as thyroid, heart problems and so on, which does not lead me to believe it’s a survival mechanism.

February 2, 2008 at 10:21 pm
(42) Peter says:

What a bunch of baloney!!(to put it mildly). As a person who actually has PERSONALLY SUFFERED TERRIFICALLY from major depression on and off for many years, I can TELL you from personal experience that depression serves NO more “purpose”, genetic or otherwise, than cancer or any other awful DISEASE. …GIMME A BREAK!!! (I wonder why some people need to think any bad thing should serve some ultimate “good” purpose – I’ve majored in biology, I know all about genetics (including about mutations etc.), and I know that’s just plain bunk.

Antidepressants (ADs) have helped me to deal with this horrific disease more than anything else I’ve tried (including years of therapy, which though helpful, was not the sole answer), and I’m dismayed that it would be suggested otherwise, especially for others who, after reading this, may now not even try AD therapy because of your suggestions.

NO kudos to you on this one, Nancy…

February 2, 2008 at 11:36 pm
(43) Peter says:

After further review, I’m even MORE disgusted with this article, and your suggestions, Nancy. If you personally suffered from real major depression, you’d realize how incredibly obtuse your “hot stove” analogy is(!!).. Do you really think that most people’s depressions are simply the result of accidents or making mistakes (ie, comparing them to touching a hot stove), like getting into bad relationships or other life choices, etc.?? That may be true of just a small percentage of people with SITUATIONAL depression, but not the vast majority, especially those with ENDOGENOUS depression.

Although they can of course affect ANYONE’S moods, accidents, bad choices or mistakes in life have little to do with most people’s root depressions, especially those with endogenous (from within, or biological) depression.. And antidepressants (ADs) are not like taking aspirin after touching a hot stove(!), they are often extremely helpful (as in my case and millions of others) – and often the last hope – in bringing the depressed person’s brain biochemistry back to normal, and restoring feelings of decent well being, and recovering from feeling like you’re in the depths of hell.

I don’t think you should knock ADs on this site, Nancy – you are doing a grave dis-service to the many millions of people suffering from depression, who would otherwise greatly benefit from them.

Z (comment #30), you obviously haven’t suffered from major depression yourself, so you are in no position to judge others who do.

As far as Michelangelo and Churchill go: since the former was a very accomplished artist, he was very likely bipolar (as many very talented people are), which is a very small percentage of those with depression. I know from studies that Churchill was hypomanic, that is, he was mostly in a very ambitious and upbeat mood (esp. when considering he was desperately fighting against Hitler, with many dark times), and whatever depressions he sometimes had were slight compared to the average person diagnosed with depression. There is simply no comparison with the singular moods and personalities of these two distinguished persons to depressions of most people.

February 3, 2008 at 10:25 am
(44) Rita says:

A spiral down into a depressive episode for me is like boiling a frog alive and not being able to jump out the pot until it is too late. If a frog was thrown into a pot of boiling water it would most likely jump right back out again ( the hot stove theory ? ) … BUT …. if you put the frog into a warm pot of water and slowly brought it to the boil it wouldnt realise the slow temperature increase until it was too late … it might jump around feebly but it would be too exhausted and depleted of energy to do anything to help itself to get back out of the pot …..

I have always used this analogy when trying to explain how a person may become deeply depressed without being aware that they are spiralling into the state until it is too late …

I have suffered from major depression ( recently diagnosed as bi polar) most of my adult life but despite this continue to work and am able to help other people with disabilties which affect mind body and soul to increase their quality of life …..

For me the key to living and coping with depression is to not allow it to take total control over my whole life or how I see myself … I am not a manic depressive or a nut case .. I am me first ! .. I am a person who is trying to live as normal a life as possible despite a disabling condition ….

An individual who suffers from a mental illness should not have to justify their emotional and physical state …. neither should they be stigmatised and labelled as being lazy when there are times when it is just too difficult to motivate themselves to get out of bed.

Yes you do need to keep moving one foot in front of the other to help yourself to move beyond the depressed state back into the land of the living ….. but taking meds when necessary to get the brain chemicals back into balance is VERY important and should not be sneered at (or be judged) as well as using self help techniques to reduce stress in your life and hence improve quality of life for all ….

Until the last year or so I also labelled myself as a weak person …. but I now believe that I am a strong person who needs support at times (but is too afraid to ask for help because of the stigma attached to depression and other mental illnesses). The misunderstanding, stigma and unfair judgements are not eased by articles like this which most people would just gloss over and not really understand and so the unfair judgements by others continues …

February 3, 2008 at 3:12 pm
(45) Z says:

Peter, sorry buddy but you are wrong. I can probably tell you better than anybody. I am a rape baby. For those that dont understand what it means, simply…i was concieved out of rape. My mother chose to keep me, my stepfather on the other hand had problems with it. I was kicked out of the house at the age of 15. Forced to live on my own. I have had several of ups and downs. I have been banned from my family. Forced to deal with situations on my own. Ive done drugs and alcohol. I tried everything possible. I was self destructive. UNTIL, I realized that the life I was living, the pain I was going through would not go away until I DEALT with it. I became stronger within myself. I learned to lean and depend on GOD, not medication. Im not saying that medication is not useful for some ppl, but to grow spiritually is greater than any pill you can take. I am now 24 yrs old and HAPPY. I have a wonderful life. I opened myself to love and have a wonderful woman who loves me back. I have beautiful kids that I can say love me and I love them. Im here for them. Im not just existing anymore. So next time before you judge someone…ASK…Never assume.

February 3, 2008 at 10:15 pm
(46) Peter says:


Actually you seem to have totally PROVEN my point! I am very sorry for what you have gone through, but your situation clearly shows that any depression you may have had is/was the result of SITUATIONAL circumstances, and is/was NOT an ENDOGENOUS depression, as so many of us suffer from..

Unlike so many of us who are genetically predisposed to depression, REGARDLESS of life stressors or sad/bad SITUATIONS, you are probably NOT PREDISPOSED to depression, rather you have suffered from a difficult LIFE SITUATION which you are dealing with. Which is SO DIFFERENT from so many of the rest of us, who can think of NO EXTERNAL cause for our depressions..

In your case, and others with SITUATIONAL depressions, this article (and Nancy’s comments) may have some value, but are very hurtful, insensitive and counterproductive for all of us who suffer depression with no outside cause (ie, we never “touched a hot stove” to begin with).

In OUR cases, it’s just very insensitive, hurtful and outrageous to suggest that WE just need to correct whatever is “wrong” with our EXTERNAL life situations, and “buck up” in order to relieve our god-awful depressions.

And any psychologist or psychiatrist worth his/her salt will tell you this.

PS. I will say that it helps to work hard on our life situations (jobs/careers, social and family lives, etc.) to help us better DEAL with our depressions, BUT THAT is not the CAUSE of our depressions! And also that it is true that depression does help us be more understanding, sensitive and caring people.

February 4, 2008 at 5:40 pm
(47) Z says:

Whatever helps you digest your situation better Peter. I stand by my opinion.

February 5, 2008 at 9:47 am
(48) cz says:

i have just sat and read all these comments after browsing net on some hopeful insite and info on despression as i know i am suffering with it, i think i have had it since not coping with a demestic violence and verbaly abusive relationship and then having his baby and getting pnd, i was at my wits end then but didnt tell anyone and recieved no treatment apart from being in hell with myself for being depressed and letting myself feel this way, i blamed him and that didnt matter also, i broke away and made a fresh start and yes i felt better incontrol again of my life then i met someone who was fantastic in everyway, he was widowed 4 yrs before i met him so i knew to tread careful and be compassionate but he seems to have got the depression back moody shouting abusing me verbally through not dealing with his feelings saying he is not depressed, whilst this is all going on i am finding myself depressed again, so if i was to take advise from this site it would be to walk away from the hot stove or what how do you deal with yr partner if your in a state yourself and they dont want to admit or help themselves or you. god im so confused. some days i feel ok and think im being silly then others i cant control the depressive thoughts and everyone says different things. help

February 5, 2008 at 11:52 am
(49) Cait says:

Feelings are useful tools, and listening to our feelings is essential to a healthy emotional and spiritual life. The negative physiological cascade of negatvie feelings that is depression, though, cannot always be remedied by making healthy decisions with regard to our emotions. When I make healthy changes in my life, and I still feel leaden, joyless and suicidal, that tells me I’m no longer dealing with mere feelings. There is something physical there that requires medical intervention. If just “living right” was a cure for depression, wouldn’t it have worked for me by now?

February 7, 2008 at 11:03 am
(50) Deborah says:

Just been sitting here, quickly reading the comments, can’t read any of them too deeply. Why not? Because I’m depressed. I’m 37 years old and I’ve been on anti depressants since I was 16. I’ve never ever been free for more than a month, and sometimes the depression has lasted for years without a break. My father was a homicidal, suicidal maniac, my mother a psychiatric mess. My soul bleeds, my heart feels black and I can’t handle it when my son asks me “what’s wrong Mum”. I don’t want to tell him that I’m depressed, even though he already knows it. Yeah, it’s hitting me hard right now. Reason? None. There is no reason. I don’t crawl into this pit on purpose, or willingly. In fact, I fight and claw all the way down. There is NO stopping the decent. I’m on meds. Big deal, they stop me from killing myself. That’s all. My life? HAAAAAAAAA. I don’t have a life. I have never had a job, dropped out of school at 14, (yeah, too depressed to deal with anything). I do not have one friend on the face of this earth, by choice. I only let people down and I don’t want to do that, so I keep people away. I’m rambling. Depression is real, I would be dead without meds.

February 8, 2008 at 10:06 am
(51) Blu says:

I honestybelieve some depression is a rsult of many truamas which cause on going problems. Medicene doesn’t help(personally) therefore I live with it daily. I even tried ECT’s to help m,yself but without insurance there is no hope. I went from age 9 to seeing my Father die in front of me and at 15 my cousin and brother were kidnapped(I was supposed to be with them) then at 22 I was raped by a photographer “helping” me get more into modelling beside my commercial. I personally feel there is no relief to depression whatsoever.

February 10, 2008 at 6:23 pm
(52) paul henry says:

i am a teenager who has been suffering depression for several months, and have been dealing with relationship problems, family problems and school problems. it seems to me that a defense mechanism is a logical explanation, my body may have been trying to make me ‘pull away’ from these emotionally difficult situations. although this theory does not cover my paranoia and substance abuse, it may help some way towards moving forward in my life.

February 11, 2008 at 6:44 pm
(53) Z says:

To Paul, I feel your pain. Its hard being a teenager going through all of those things at once. We may age body wise, but mentally a lot of the situations that we come across are hard to deal with emotionally and mentally. I’m not a counselor or anything, but I have traveled down the same road you’re on and I’m just here to say to you that, even though whatever substance that you’re using may fill the void, it’s only temporary. The thing with drug abuse when used to fill an emotional void or to stabilize our mentality is, the more things you go through, the more you use and depend on it. It becomes an emotional cruch. I can tell you from experience, that it only complicates matters worse. I dont know if you’re in high school or college, but talk to your counselor or somebody that you trust to help you sort out the things that you’re dealing with. Sometimes in life we have no control of some of the things that happen. We have to learn to deal with them and just accept the fact that things will be the way they are. If you can, look into yourself and find the strength that’s there. It may be a tug-a-war at times, but hang in there. Put all your strength in becoming better for no one else but YOU. Things may be hard now, but keep your head up and stay strong. I wish you the best. Take care.

February 15, 2008 at 2:30 pm
(54) Carol says:

I think we don’t know enough about depression to really say what it is and why we have it.

People can survive horrific life events and never get depressed whereas someone with a relatively content upbringing and life thus far can sink into a major depression.

Perhaps life events can trigger depression for some, perhaps it only ‘seems’ that the life event is what triggered the depression because it sounds more intelligent than “idunno”.

Sometimes I think that the more time we spend reading about it, talking about it and thinking about it, the more likely it is to stick around.

Meds work for some yet not for others, therapy works for some yet not for others.

Maybe there is a ‘suck it up’ aspect that gets overlooked, often due to political correctness.

Maybe depression doesn’t really have anything to do with the brain and more to do with lack of sleep, lack of exercise and/or lack or nutrition.

Really though, I have no idea.

March 4, 2008 at 6:08 am
(55) Aydan says:

Personally, I believe that depression is a state of mind. Ok, so maybe you will claim that i am stating the obvious, but think about it. Do you ever take pills to help you with exams? ever taker pills to help you socialise better? (apart from illegal drugs which only alter the brain, they do not help)On the whole the answer is no.
I have had many traumatic problems in my life, mainly being that I live with a disorder called Aspergers Syndrome. I used to be very depressed and almost suisidal. And for years I saw no end, I didnt take any drugs for it. Then one day, I decided. I just woke up and told myself that this must end. I was quite severe in my illness, but now, it appears like I have no disability at all. All because of the power of my MIND!

It makes sence that Depression is a defence mechanism but dont ever forget, Its what you do with your mind decides how it will affect you or stay/go from you.

Use brain power first, it is, of course, an illness of the brain, so where is better to start…

July 29, 2008 at 5:11 pm
(56) Nicholas says:

I do believe there is a possibility about the self defence mechanism-theory.
I was hospitalized after a brief sertraline period over 12 days (took it for 12 days). At first everything was good and calm. Results came very fast (but I was foolish to combine it with rhodiola) and within a week my whole life was relived over and over again. My real life. My real emotions. True childhood / adolescense memories coming back. So many sad revelations of how much time and life I had thrown away by taking refuge into a dark, lonely unlovable shell.
It became too much. The liberation turned into horror. I discovered my true self (as I percieved it) but was not capabable of coping with it. All my decisions have been directly or indirectly made by others with fear as a co-factor. Was this new found person what I really wanted?
Long gone seizures came back. I had panic attacks (although no social phobia). Am I unable to handle normal brain function?
Is my depression a self defence mechanism to protect me from seizures and other negative experiences, which it could not handle back then?
I can choose between freedom and horror, or depression / anxiety and the occasional glimpses of life. Every side of the coin has it´s negatives, no matter what.

August 22, 2008 at 3:04 am
(57) Mrs D says:

I cannot see this hypothesis as true in nature. I suffer from “severe” depression, and it directly relates to the incorrect manifestation in nurture. Nothing in life makes me happy, but I do always need a sense of self in order to feel even the slightest feelings of goodness, not to be confused with happiness. I do not know what happiness is but long for the day that I do. I could not even talk about this less than a year ago, but it simply is the only way to concur it. I can relate to the achievement issue, and I can explain it to a tee.

When one is chronically depressed, feelings of joy and happiness are not presenting. This causes one to live a life of achievement. There is no joy from recreations, television, fictional type activities. I for one do not do anything that does not have an educational purpose behind it. I cannot bring myself to relate to things that are not of purpose. This is the way I have lived since I was a young child. The one miraculous achievement was starting as a child with severe ADD, LD, and I was thought to be mentally handicapped. It was found that I was actually very intelligent, but I feel sometimes it is not displayed correctly due to what holds me back. I did not read until the fourth grade, and could only learn by memorization. I could not conceptional anything that was not definite. Any exception to a rule would give me a massive headaches, and I could not comprehend how without fact something is just true. Well, I overcame that and ended up a straight A student in high school, and throughout college. I will be working on my Ph.D. is child psych., but the motivation is to help children whom have been through these exasperating experiences and change the effects without meds so they can live normally one day. Also meds have never taken my depression away, or even changed anything but my weight. I realize that it is all based on feelings stirred from childhood and increasing in adulthood. I can help others with such perseverance and accuracy, but I have failed in helping myself. I think the lack of pleasure is what initiates the success, but I am also just as positive that if you asked anyone of your examples if they thought they were successful and they would reply with a no.

Here is my main reason for seeing holes in the hypothesis. Depression, and the attributing factors are mirror images of life experiences. You brought up the compassion in your post, and depressed people are normally the most compassionate and empathetic people one would ever meet. Two reason for this; the first is, that they want to make others happy. I want to help others achieve what I cannot. The second is that if this were normal the world would be so much more compassionate rather than the selfish world we see now. I do not understand the concept of selfishness, and I get no feelings of goodness from selfish acts. I get warm feelings from seeing others happiness. I think the world is much to selfish, and if depression were normal; we would be living in a much better world. The thing that aggravates me, is the sadness that replaces the warmth when I realize that I will never be able to relate to the happiness that I work so diligently to achieve for others. I think that if it were proved that depression is normalcy that I would want to be gone, as my hope to get through each day is the hope of one day.

Sorry about the grammar

November 7, 2008 at 12:13 pm
(58) Sarah says:

I think it is attitudes such as these in the article which still cause there to be great stigma surrounding clinical depression. Do you not think that if the depressed had the option to “just snap out of it” we would? Do you think we want to be stuck in this vortex of misery and self worthlessness!? I wonder if you have the same attitude towards cancer and other such diseases?

January 21, 2009 at 10:27 am
(59) anymouz says:

Depression is certainly not a very good defense (survival) mechanism when, from the bottom of the well, suicide begins to look like the best way out.

January 21, 2009 at 11:25 am
(60) Luigi says:

What Brenda said was really important. There are some depressions to which this article really isn’t relevant, but I think it makes some good points for other kinds of depression. Sometimes a person won’t even know what brought on a depression… I think that’s where this article can be especially applied. I got so low at some points that I think I might have killed myself had I not been given meds. But I continued on them for years for fear of a recurrence of those episodes, and didn’t really address in any depth the root cause. I have an anxiety disorder that gets so severe at times that I can’t function… and I haven’t been able to fix that. I recently went off the anti-depressants as a measure to try and work on that, the root of the depression. I couldn’t do that while on them b/c they made me apathetic. I couldn’t feel deeply enough, or be motivated enough, to try and fix problems that requires such dedication and hard work to overcome. It is a painful process so far… and it must be, in order to become the person I want to be. I’m done burying my head in the sand.

January 21, 2009 at 3:59 pm
(61) md says:

This theory leaves out thousands upon thousands who depression does not keep them from what is ever the cause of their depression. We don’t take medication for one reason or another and we just keep functioning. We wish to God it would save us from something, even a hot stove!

January 21, 2009 at 10:32 pm
(62) S says:

It is reassuring to know I am not the only one out there suffering with depression. I have tried almost all the antidepressants. The one I am on now does help but is not the cure all (not crying all the time). I still don’t feel “happy/healthy and still struggle a lot” I know there are real issues I need to work on but I end up using the med as a crutch… thinking that will fix everything. Prozac helped me when I was a teen immensely but now I can’t take it because it is makes me too jittery, nervous, jacked up. I wish there was a simple answer to end everyone’s suffering! Remember a thought is just a thought. Don’t trouble trouble until trouble troubles you. Don’t believe all the negative thoughts brain comes up with. Carpe diem, tomorrow may never come!

January 22, 2009 at 10:12 am
(63) Maurine says:

So are you advocating getting rid of life if you feel pain and sadness all the time? Sometimes it feels like it would be simpler to just quiit living. Antidepressants for me do not take away all feelings. Sometimes I wonder if they really serve any useful purpose. I have been on many different ones over the years. I am getting tired of depression. I have lived with it most of my life and it’s getting old.

January 22, 2009 at 5:49 pm
(64) kc says:

This is too funny! I’d take it a step further. There have probably been lots of great people who had heart disease but were able to accomplish great things without our modern statin HEART meds. Maybe Julius Ceasar, or President Lincoln, for example. I’m going to start pointing that out and encourage heart patients to please FORGOE THEIR MEDS so they can take advantage of the obvoius benefit that being med. free can have AS SHOWN BY HISTORY.

January 25, 2009 at 2:41 am
(65) diurnal says:

Are you a idiot, or just ignorant writer? Yea it’s a defense mechanism lmfao. When there is strong evidence that depression causes real brain changes. Ok, yea it’s just a defense mechanism Explain why i want to kill myself daily or have thoughts about it. Anyway, good luck with your dumb a## theories – they will not get you far.

January 26, 2009 at 5:57 pm
(66) Caroline says:

I wasn’t able to read all the posts, but I’ve read enough and know enough to know this author’s an idiot. While it’s possible depression could be a SLIGHT defense mechanism in coping with difficult situations, I personally have been fighting depression for since my teens(I’m 23) and haven’t been able to feel 100% better no matter what I do; I don’t CHOOSE to sit around barely or not getting things done, I just haven’t had the energy for it. I tried various meds in my senior year of high school (they either didn’t work or stopped working, Trilepital made me go nearly insane: maybe because it’s for Bipolar while I have Major Depression and Dysthymia). I have a therapist which helps and although I want to give medication another shot, my parents are against it just because it didn’t “work” before. What’s sad is usually my depression is moderate; the past year it’s been severe and though I’ve never hurt myself, lately I’m wondering if maybe I just should since nothing’s working. Belief in God, Books about depression, psychotherapy, and having a health plan (enough exercise, eating right and sleeping right) can only help so much.

I’m starting to hate my fucking life and feel cynical even though I know the “normal” me tries to stay optimistic… It’s fucking frustrating as hell and pisses me off to no end when idiots think depression is just a means of getting sympathy or not a serious problem or just because this country (the states) is over medicated means antidepressants shouldn’t be given a chance. I just wish I knew what other options there was for me with this bullshit besides out. It’s just SO fucking difficult to hang in there despite trying to, even though I know my life hasn’t been as difficult compared to other people’s (I’ve dealt with verbal abuse and a controlling/overprotective mother growing up. Currently I’m dealing with figuring out what I want to do with my life/getting burned out with college though I know it has and it is taking awhile.), but it doesn’t make living any easier for me.

February 2, 2009 at 2:07 pm
(67) Amanda says:

I honestly think that is BS. And what about people that want to hurt themselves and commit suicide? Are you going to tell them that they just need to change their lives and get over it?? NO! You would kill them faster! I would cut myself more if some one told me to get over it! Because thats not how to fix your problems! I think depression is in the head, yes, but not to the same extent that you are talking about. Isnt depression a chemical imbalance? What happens if you mess with them in the worng way? Please tell me what happens! Im extremely curious to know!!!!

February 5, 2009 at 11:10 pm
(68) Danielle Simpson says:

I think this is definately true. I was diagnosed and put on medication which gave me severe suicidal tendencies and basically tripled the symptoms of what i was feeling. I think “depression” is something that we can move on from, it isn’t necessarily something we live with but more so changing our life, including our relationships, eating and excercise habits, hobbies and interests so that we don’t have to live with it. This worked for me.

January 29, 2010 at 1:32 pm
(69) Lou Benton says:

The problem with depression is you don’t know where the stove is… you can’t remember you being burnt by the stove, you can’t feel anything… what you can’t feel you can’t fix… so the analogy in my view is totally correct but by the time you are depressed you can’t get out…

May 31, 2010 at 10:22 pm
(70) Austin, J. says:

Dr. Keedwell is talking about bipolar disease. That is what Winston Churchill had. That is what he has. Do not confuse his remarks for unipolar depression. He has lead a life of priviledge, and doesn’t have his feet on the ground. It is clear that he hasn’t experienced unipolar depression, endogenous or reactive. He just has to wait for the cycle to swing the other way. Then he can take on the world, and write books while manic.

February 10, 2012 at 3:43 pm
(71) Richard says:

I suffered depression because I was neglected and ignorant. My heart goes out to whom ever had to deal with depression and its lateral affects. Emotions carry weight, as positive/negative force. Under normal circumstances we have a positive flow of energy that connects all living things. We are coils that pull energy from somewhere and the faster we move the more energy increase we experience and when we are confronted with a traumatic event that we cannot understand, we slow down enter negative obsessive rumination, enter, depression. Traumatic events cause us to lose energy where the root is not recognized, this leads to otherworldly affect and we think there are some mysterious causes making us feel odd. Ignorance can prolong depressive mood. We need to recognize traumatic events for the emotional weight they carry. Disbelief or denial leaves them unresolved. We need to treat depression like an enemy invading our space and interfering with our happiness. Kick the sh#% out of depression by talking to it like someone trying to hurt us. We all have a certain amount of energy within our systems and we need to fight to keep it. Please get up, get angry, and shout at the devil called depression. If you know the reason that you first became depressed it is easier to forgive it or the people whom may have caused it. One day I was sick of being sad and depressed and I reasoned happiness was a choice regardless of circumstance and my life changed dramatically. If you do not know who, what or why, then you must commit a universal forgiveness to cover all the past affronts that may have occurred as a young child and that you may not remember or have chosen to block out. All you really have to do is know that when you forgive a thing or a person, you are the first to benefit from this as you will neutralize the emotional negative weight and we don’t need any more to fuel the demons of revenge because revenge is yet another tool for negative emotional transference.

March 4, 2012 at 4:55 am
(72) t says:

I think its a defence mechanism, relationships caused me pain so I withdraw from relationships, the stove burns my hand so I withdraw my hand from the stove, its clear that in order to survive with minimal suffering nature has provided a state of mind that urges you to change your behaviour, consider a world without any depression or pain? we wouldnt learn anything or change anything and I am certain that there would not be any life on earth exept plant life.

March 4, 2012 at 5:11 am
(73) t says:

Nature does not give a stuff about what happens to us, everything comes to an end eventually, If you are not depressed you must be very ignorant and I would prefer to be depressed and knowlegable than to be ignorant and living a fairytale existance, I do enjoy observing life and the wonders of the world and accept it. those bright happy looking people that you see around you are just very good at putting up a front and painting a picture they want you to see, if you observe them well you will see the cracks in the disguise but I applaud there tollerance and resolve.

January 30, 2013 at 5:21 am
(74) Mwangi. says:

It sounds true.Thinking outside the box.

January 30, 2013 at 7:18 am
(75) Doris Irwin says:

Who would want to be depressed for any reason? I do not think it is a normal mechanism for any reason. There are other ways to cope with sadness and mild depression besides medication, but when you have clinical depression you need some type of medication to balance the chemicals. This article could be very harmful to those that need the medication and extra help for their depression.

January 30, 2013 at 8:15 am
(76) Jo says:

Tricky balance and decision, I think the article has a huge amount of truth. The problem comes of fear of change and so if change is not made, I found I wanted to cope for sake of children – functioning for them also having emotional capacity for them. Having just typed all that though the ‘cleanest’ solution is probably to take your hand off the hot ring to be your best for others. The only thing with that though is having enough Sense of Self to have trust in your feelings. That’s another point though.

January 30, 2013 at 9:03 am
(77) Tammy says:

Maybe if your looking at it from the concept that depression is anger turned inwards.

January 30, 2013 at 9:53 am
(78) fire&ice says:

After learning/reading and docs trying to offer me meds “to get through”it”
……..this passage caught my eye definately.
I am not happy. Spouse has history therefore does not know of his/her off balance.My body IS telling me “WHOA!!!!!!” (stop, redflag) when my comfort level is nonexisting OR being “attacked” i simply say “no thank you” .

on the other hand any time ANYBODY feels off, please see your family physician.

thank you for reading.

January 30, 2013 at 10:19 am
(79) Susan says:

While I don’t think this article goes far enough I believe this could be very possible for some but not all. There seems to be a situational belief for depression in this study. When in a situation we grow a “pearl” to heal the raw spot. That is why we need more studies for this disease and get those suffering into the right treatment. Help those to realize the pain of depression may produce a pearl that is useful to us or others.

Medication is not for everyone but some need it desperately so glad to see there are those studying to find other causes.

Can the defense mechanism become habitual and continue even after the threat is removed. Repeated defenses could become chronic depression I would think.

Very interesting study to discuss.

January 30, 2013 at 11:03 am
(80) RJC says:

Someone wants their book to sell.
Based on a simple controversial, hypothetical, un-empirical and silly

Yes, SSRI are overprescribed and depression overdiagnosed, but lets not throw the baby out with the bath water OK?

January 30, 2013 at 11:15 am
(81) Brian says:

While an immune system is vital to human health, an overactive immune system can turn on the body and wreak havoc. Similarly, we are to believe, based upon this article, that depression has its positives, but severe depression can lead to problems.

I simply cannot agree. I lean more towards the hypothesis that people with such traits as heightened creativity and empathy towards others are more susceptible to depression. I have always been creative, sensitive, etc. And the few days of my very long life that I have not been depressed did not change that.

At this point in my life, I find depression to be the most significant factor in numbing my ability to feel anything, particularly creativity and compassion towards others. My world is black and, in no way, has my despair made me a better, stronger person for having endured it this long.

January 30, 2013 at 12:16 pm
(82) Barb says:

It is my opinion that in some cases depression is a defense mechanism, and learned this from my own experiences. I also know that during these bouts, sometimes I am able to “kick depression in the butt” and bring myself out of the funk without help, but there have been other times where I have had to rely on other courses of treatment (medication and talk therapy) in order to feel better again. I also suffer from a couple other chronic illnesses of which depression is a part of, but I don’t like being medicated unless I am able to handle it.

January 30, 2013 at 1:18 pm
(83) CAE says:

This scenario does not take into account depression that has no “hot stove”, no inciting incident. I have been in bad relationships and suffered sadness; loved ones have died, and I have grieved. I have also been depressed while relationships, and the other aspects of my life, are good. In this last case, the depression would most likely be endogenous, as Nancy described, and antidepressants would likely be therapeutic. There is a difference between sadness and depression. It’s important to recognize that difference.

January 30, 2013 at 2:39 pm
(84) Sammyed says:

Oh for heaven’s sake! Analysis paralysis again. The whys and perhaps do us no good. We who live with this illness since our younger years, who have parents, siblings and many ancestors with it–many who committed suicide, don’t need this kind of speculating. We have a biochemical problem…a broken brain, if you will. I am simplifying it for myself this way. The endocrine, autoimmune, and brain chemicals all interact poorly and I shant be any more analytical about it…I wouldn’t be analyzing or trying to imbue it with further stigma by saying “maybe I shouldn’t take this pill for it”. If you want to see many of us jumping bridges and hanging from trees, yes– bring back the stigma-enforcing speculations, which brings shame, which brings non-compliance with medication. Stop. Just stop.

January 30, 2013 at 3:08 pm
(85) Warren Liehn says:

Very intersting idea – I suffer from depression and have since teen years – When it is real bad I don’t get anything done. I can not get away from the cause because the cause is life and I am not ready to leave this life yet.

January 30, 2013 at 4:49 pm
(86) MK Gilbert says:

I agree with dan K. Without Cymbalta i’m a total basket case~WOULD have to hibernate and stay away from people altogether. With it I can live a fairly normal life, altho the lack of energy from myalgic encephalomylitis prevents me from doing as much as most people do~at least I can function. Without the med I’m totally useless~but what if I’d never started taking it? I don’t know~I just know that antidepressants changed my life mostly for the better…I can’t handle many meds (even natural supplements) because they are too stimulating, but I thank God every day for cymbalta! It is one I CAN tolerate which allows me to live. I never thot “talk therapy” or counseling was very helpful, but now that I am required by Behav Health to go in order to see the Dr, I am actually learning that it does have some benefit~I can unload on her and save others (esp my wonderful husband) from having to hear it!

February 3, 2013 at 4:34 am
(87) Tom says:

I think he’s got depression and unhappiness confused. I don’t think depression leads to increased anything, except a desire not to be here.

February 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm
(88) piecework says:

In my opinion, there are many types of depression. Until we clearly identify them and contrast how they differ from each other, we can’t begin to make substantial inroads into de-stigmatizing it, and/or treating it efficientyly and effectively.

February 3, 2013 at 3:22 pm
(89) Tara Fischer says:

This is silly because when you take your hand out of the fire, your body heals. Taking someone out of a bad situation that triggered depression will only help people without the chemical imbalances that cause depression. People with actual physical depression, and the brain is an organ, understand this best. There is nothing anyone can say or take you away from to make you suddenly snap out of it. Consider a person with diabeties. Taking away candy does not cure diabetes and the need for insilin, although it is helpful. But people with the more severe kinds NEED the insulin to survive.

February 4, 2013 at 3:25 am
(90) Tim says:

There are a number of problems with using ‘material’ analogies, especially when you have something such as Depression. What is clear by all the responses is that Depression is like the night sky and the bilions of suffers out there are individual stars – the illness is not one illness and one cause, it is multi multi faceted and thus each person and their treatments are seperate.
Using the above analogy as well has the unfortunate overtones of ‘pull yourself together’. I believe that there are at least three levels of depression and the majority of responders on this site are those such as myself; they are not the ones who can take a little time out, or have a few months of prescription drugs and become ‘cured’. These are the die hard (and I chose my words carefully) sufferers who in reality will never get over the illness; they can learn how to cope with it better and are more aware about its causes, but it is there always; the suicidal thoughts, the fears and terrors…and that pain
….and that is one of my bear bugs. All the books appear to have been written by those in the first couple of catagories… ‘how they over came their depression… and this article has the same smell about it. The word at the top of the page really interested me; PAIN. If you have never suffered mental pain; agony for an extended period then you can not fully understand depression (and I don’t say it with pride as if I wear a badge of honour).. it is a living Hell and metaphors of stoves don’t even come close to explaining what is gone through day after day.

February 4, 2013 at 3:26 am
(91) tim says:

(sorry finish off from above)

I do believe that sufferers of Depression have in many cases exaggerated creativity but whether that is the chicken or egg syndrome I couldn’t say; i beleive Depression sets in long before it is ever recognised in a human being.
To the writers of articles such as this; please don’t dumb down Depression and reinforce much of peoples and the medias impression about the illness.. the pull yourself together brigade’ for the 10% of us who are at the bottom of the black hole permanently if comes across as a manager telling a footballer to get out onto the pitch as he only has a broken leg….

February 22, 2013 at 9:58 pm
(92) Vicki says:

I think that depression does serve a positive purpose. It teaches us empathy…but that is only if you survive it. Many times, when we are depressed, it is because of circumstances we cannot escape, but must go through. Only once we come out the other side, do we understand the emotional pain of others.
Medication was necessary for me because my depression was so deep, I could not function. But I had to function; I had a seriously ill infant who needed me 24/7.
Now I can see how strong my experiences with depression has made me. If I had to do it all over again, I would have liked to know that I was going to survive, and that there was nothing wrong with my feelings.

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