I got some interesting feedback on my recent post about A New Perspective, so I tried posting the same video and article on LinkedIn to see what they think. It was very interesting how that community responds completely differently (and a great future topic to post about), but one particular comment struck a cord with me that I have not been able to let go of. It has me thinking a lot about what depression feels like and how we define it.
I find the comment to be a pretty accurate reflection of what I have heard quite often — “No matter how well I handle an episode, depression causes me to have difficulty concentrating, darkens my perspective, makes me isolate from others, and creates problems with my perception of time … not to mention that the worldview from my sofa is decidedly limited.” While I think it is a great example of the standard point of view, what sticks out for me is “depression causes me.” I wrote a chapter in Bipolar In Order called “The Definitions Are Not Definitive” and think that the quote perfectly makes my point: the definitions are so unclear as to be confusing.
If we look at how depression is defined in many publications, you will find a similar list as found here on Psych Central:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
What I point out in my chapter is that the definition is a combination of symptoms and reactions to them. This is where “depression causes me” makes my point — if depression causes those reactions, then the reactions are not depression. It seems we subconsciously know that and make my point in our conversations without even noticing it.
If depression causes “difficulty concentrating, darkened perspective, isolating from others, creates problems with perception of time, and ties you to the sofa,” it must be a powerful thing. What is it that can cause such reactions? In the list above, what are the causes? What are the reactions? Is depression the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pains that may or may not cause adverse reactions, or is depression the adverse reactions themselves? If depression IS the reactions, why do so many people say depression CAUSES them?
Have you ever said, “Depression Causes Me?” What is depression?