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.