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Several mental health experts over the past couple of years have proposed the idea that depression can actually be useful. As someone who has dysthymia, a chronic form of depression, I beg to differ.
Diane Barth, a blogger for Psychology Today and a psychotherapist, wrote in a June 12, 2011 blog post titled “Can Depression Ever Be Good For You?” that indeed, depression can be useful in changing your life around. Depression can allow a person to realize there are issues that need to be solved through talk therapy. She stated that talk therapy can help patients work through the cause of depression and overall improve areas of their lives. She suggests that medication usually isn’t necessary for depression and that talk therapy can solve most issues in a few months’ time. The blogger focuses on the case of one woman who appears to be depressed because she is a stay-at-home mother and her children started attending school and don’t need her help as often, which she realized through talk therapy.
Although talk therapy might have helped the one woman featured in the blog, I believe it’s inappropriate to make generalizations about the merits of talk therapy and depression, especially when only one successful case is mentioned. Therapy can help everyone in some way, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cure for everyone. The type of depression wasn’t even addressed, just that the woman has “depression.” There are different types of depression, such as major depressive disorder (MDD) and dysthymia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health website. It’s doubtful that if the woman had MDD or dysthymia she would’ve recovered only in a couple weeks with talk therapy. If anything, it appears her depression might’ve been situational or just a prolonged sadness. If so, it would be more understandable that talk therapy helped her recover quickly.
Another issue is that the author suggested that depression is usually caused by a life occurrence. This isn’t always the case, and many experts confirm that the brains of people with depression function differently and there can be a chemical imbalance.