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Is Depression Useful? Not Really: Editorial

By HERWriter
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Depression related image Photo: Getty Images

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.

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Interesting article. Anyone who thinks depression can be useful is someone who has absolutely NO CLUE what real deperession is. Getting down or blue once in a while is NOT depression. Those down or blue periods may offer a bit of insight to someone to seek help, but as a person who suffered acute, chronic depression since childhood.....I can assure you that "talk therapy" was the last thing on my mind. People who suffer from chronic depression are not in a talking mood because they really don't even realize most of the time that they are depressed. At least I didn't. I was quite functional....though I only did what I had to do and never let anyone close to me to see how "dark" I really was. I also had no idea I WAS depressed until the middle of my 45th year of life, when I just shut down totally and felt it was time for me to check out of this "hotel" called life. It was that "incident" (as my son calls it) when I was diagnosed with depression that I'd apparently had since birth just about (based on information from my family to the doctors). I was fortunate in that I found a great doctor who taught me that I was the one with the power to choose how I felt. I was with him and on Prozac for just under 2 years and have managed to control my life since then on my own. I now recognize when I'm slipping and grab hold of myself to avoid that dark well. I'm also aware that should I not be able to avoid it, or choose not to, that there is help available to me and I would utilize it, because I never want to go to the place I was in my 45th year of life again.

The commercials for these new anti-depressents crack me up....when they don't have me wanting to kick the TV that is. I don't know about anyone else, but what they describe just strikes me as down periods, and we all have those for whatever reason. And don't even get me started on the "possible side effects" (depression and suicidal thoughts being 2 of them no less). :-)

June 15, 2011 - 2:44pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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