Mh – Upside of depression

“For Darwin, depression was a clarifying force, focusing the mind on its most essential problems. In his autobiography, he speculated on the purpose of such misery; his evolutionary theory was shadowed by his own life story. “Pain or suffering of any kind,” he wrote, “if long continued, causes depression and lessens the power of action, yet it is well adapted to make a creature guard itself against any great or sudden evil.” And so sorrow was explained away, because pleasure was not enough. Sometimes, Darwin wrote, it is the sadness that informs as it “leads an animal to pursue that course of action which is most beneficial.” The darkness was a kind of light.” – New York Times article

Thank you Sadia for sending me the above linked article.

Ok, go read it. Wow. It’s seven pages so grab some coffee or something, sit back, and read. The article talks about the benefits of depression. Benefits? Really? Yeah. It gets into a lot of clinical stuff, but the underlying theme is that when we’re depressed, we’re more able to focus on our problems. Yeah, duh, we’re depressed because we’re focusing on our problems. Chicken? Egg? So something triggers a depressed episode, be it life events or a chemical imbalance. We get down, we get blue, we don’t get out of bed. We ruminate on the problem, over and over and over, right? Well, the theory in the article is that we’re more apt to come to some sort of conclusion and find some sort of solution because we’re so focused on the problem. For the lucky ones anyway, who don’t do a permanent escape.

For me, as a spiritual person, pain is the cornerstone of spiritual growth. I had a sponsor tell me that she’d never stand in the way of my pain, because I’d eventually learn from it. How true that is. When I was depressed, I finally asked for help and got into therapy. And we ended up working on so much more than just being depressed about being blind. My sessions with her taught me more about myself than anything ever has, and depression led to that. So you know what? I can buy that there’s an upside to depression. Go read the article. See what you think…


Filed under awareness month, mental health, therapy

2 Responses to Mh – Upside of depression

  1. I’ll have to work up the courage to read that article because of how angry, angry angry angry evolutionary psychology made me. Oh rage, I can feel it. Here, have some rage. They actually tried to justify, justify, suicide! I know, I know, Darwin didn’t do that, the poor excuses for people who call themselves psychologists did that. I know, I know…no need to rage at Darwin. Blech evolutionary psychology. Just blech. Some of it is good work, some can just be heaved off a cliff. Blech. Ok I’m done now.

  2. Good can definitely come from pain and sadness. Without it, we wouldn’t have some really great music, some of the best comedians or some of the world’s great works of literature. It’s the whole creative outlet thing. I know some very creative people who are at times pretty depressed, and I know they aren’t alone. But they can take that pain and sadness and do something with it, even if they don’t always realize how much of an impact what they’re doing has on people.

    And to the other point, pain is a great teacher. Whether it be the physical pain (don’t touch the stove) or the mental kind of pain in the sense that it teaches you a lot about yourself if you let it, there’s definitely a good side there.

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