As a person who has been diagnosed with depression and took medication for a few years, I will share my notes on depression.
- I personally believe that it's a result of a deeply unsatisfactory life our industrial and post-industrial society forces upon us. I mean, we are designed to run through forest, pick berries and hunt animals, to mate and experience both thrill and fear to which physical response is the right thing (fight or flight, etc.) All our hormonal systems are build around this, but our way of life has over-conditioned us, our fears are immaterial, like economic crisis, or loss of job, or a disease that may or may not worsen, and running away is not a useful response. We burst in anger, but can't fight because social repercussions would follow, we became shy and unsure, because we are compared with artificially created perfection of the media world we cannot compete with. We are like motors, and the driver is constantly pressing the gas pedal while holding down the hand brake. All this, gradually, day by day, over the year, twists and breaks our mental balance. But I still believes it starts in the head with subtle things that few people even realize by the time.
- I believe like second type diabetes or arthritis, depression is a physical manifestation of an unnatural state that lasts for a long time, a chronic problem. Like a person who eats too much simple sugars, gains weight, and suddenly, his insulin receptors become resistant and he has a serious problems that cannot be solved just by eating less alone. Once serious depression manifests in states where you are completely overwhelmed and sliding down the spiral, you can no longer solve it in your head, you need medication and help as soon as possible, and the quicker you realize it, the better. There is also the danger of destroying the relations with people around, because even the most sympathetic friends and family members may give up on someone who is grim and silent and sad all the time. The medication can sort of wall off the problem for a while - it does not go away, but at least you have a moment of respite and a chance to do something. However, there is a question of what to do.
- Never tell a person with acute depression to try to exercise. It just doesn't work - it's good long term to stay healthy and to get those endorphine boosts when done regularly, but if you have an acute episode, it will make things only worse. The only thing to do during acute depression is to start medication and find something to cling to before they kick in (usually took about two weeks for me).
- I don't pretend to have solved the problem, but for me personally, I have found a way to stabilize it. I have identified a circular patterns of thinking revolving around despair, death, lack of perspective for humanity, self-loathing, and so on that work like a motor that starts and accelerates the problem, and I just no longer go that way. When I catch myself going in this direction, I force myself to stop, and that's it. It's still there as a cloud on a horizon, but I don't suffer those crippling, debilitating episodes anymore.
- Personally, I find a great comfort in the works of Friedrich Nietzsche who in my opinion went through states of severe depression and supposedly suffered from schizophrenia later in his life too and ultimately deteriorated both physically and mentally, but before that happened, he experienced moments of unique and absolute clarity few can ever aspire to. Just one famous quote that (for me) summarizes it all:
"When you look stare into the abyss long enough, you will find that the abyss is staring back at you."
Agree totally. This expresses well both my experience and my understanding of the world we have created for ourselves as well. One minor disagreement: I don't think ostio arthritis results from the cognitive dissonance inherit in living in 'modern' societies. Rheumatoid, probably yes. All in all - excellent description.