UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. See main page for full contents

August 27, 2009

THE UPSIDE OF DEPRESSION

This raises the interesting, and possibly disturbing, question: what effect are anti-depressants having on our intelligence, creativity, politics and social judgment? For example: could be have had the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 196os if anti-depressants were as prevelant as today? Science and medicine seem to have little interest in this.

Slashdot - Paul W. Andrews and J. Anderson Thomson, Jr. argue in Scientific American that although depression is considered a mental disorder, depression may in fact be a mental adaptation which provides real benefits. This is not to say that depression is not a problem. Depressed people often have trouble performing everyday activities, they can't concentrate on their work, they tend to socially isolate themselves, they are lethargic, and they often lose the ability to take pleasure from such activities such as eating and sex. So what could be so useful about depression? 'Depressed people often think intensely about their problems,' write the authors. 'These thoughts are called ruminations; they are persistent and depressed people have difficulty thinking about anything else. Numerous studies have also shown that this thinking style is often highly analytical. They dwell on a complex problem, breaking it down into smaller components, which are considered one at a time.' Various studies have found that people in depressed mood states are better at solving social dilemmas and there is evidence that people who get more depressed while they are working on complex problems in an intelligence test tend to score higher on the test. 'When one considers all the evidence, depression seems less like a disorder where the brain is operating in a haphazard way, or malfunctioning. Instead, depression seems more like the vertebrate eye - an intricate, highly organized piece of machinery that performs a specific function.'"

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You gotta be crazy to take mind-altering drugs for any reason other than entertainment.

August 27, 2009 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Mairead said...

Given that all change comes from those who are dissatisfied (unhappy), and depression is defined as significant, non-transient unhappiness, it's not unreasonable that some people who are depressed will also become agents of healthy change.

August 27, 2009 4:16 PM  
Blogger m said...

Depression, like diabetes, pneumonia and others, is a condition, not a disease entity in and of itself. The causes and symptomatologies vary, as do appropriate treatments.

August 28, 2009 4:35 PM  
Anonymous protein supplements said...

As someone with a long-term but (usually) mild form of it, I have viewed depression as an unwanted condition, something that gets in the way of creativity and personal growth, and should be managed with medication, psychotherapy or other treatment if severe enough.

October 1, 2009 7:16 AM  

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