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Thread: Is depression a benefit in disguise?

  1. #61
    Senior Member Array KDude's Avatar
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    Jan 2010


    lithium definitely slows people down... i thought it was for more acute manic cases.

    anyways, maybe there is some right balance for you with some type of medication,but you haven't struck it yet. or you could do what you're doing too. i wish you luck

  2. #62
    scourge Array miss fortune's Avatar
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    I'm taking the crazy chance of really moderating my behavior much more than usual at the moment... I'm not trying the "let's try a new drug!" game again until I'm either causing a lot of trouble or seriously depressed again!

    finding a nice balance right off might have made things different

    Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom? -Terry Pratchett

  3. #63
    Diabolical Array Kasper's Avatar
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    Resolving the underlining issues of depression is a good thing but it would be healthier to resolve them before/without depression, the fact that so many people need to rely on external things like a psych or meds to help do that should clearly show that it's not a good thing in disguise.

    I believe I have dysthmia and the negative feedback loop that Morgan posted is something I see nothing good or healthy in.

  4. #64
    failure to thrive Array AphroditeGoneAwry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgan Le Fay View Post
    And I think you're making some pretty bold and ungrounded, even dangerous assumptions there that not even your evolutionary psychologists would make.
    I don't see why saying that the mind is like the body regarding immunity vigor is so dangerous or surprising.

    Why is it that people with no appropriate psychiatric training and no personal experience think that they are qualified to guess about how best to treat mental illness? Do members of the public come up to you whilst you are delivering a baby (or whatever you do) and shout "UR DOING IT WRONG"? Or "Why don't you just let nature take its course?"
    Perhaps surprisingly, I am one of those midwives who pretty much lets nature take its course unless I need to intervene, in which case the normal course has deviated and I need to manipulate it for the life or health of the mother or baby. Wrong is intervening in the normal process, and it creates many problems, not the least of which is nearly a 33% cesarean section rate, or huge financial burdens for the families.

    First do no harm.

    So they manufacture an untestable hypothesis to support a personal bias? That's really scientific. We know that human genome is riddled with "pointless programming bugs". The fact that something persists does not mean it's advantageous or adaptive, it just means it isn't disadvantageous enough to kill you before you reproduce. And in a sense, they defeat their own argument: if the mind is a fine-tuned machine, then it is fine-tuned for the life of a savannah ape, not a city-dwelling office worker. Why would they not expect it to malfunction on a regular basis, subjected to stresses and strains for which it was never designed?
    My limited understanding is that we are adapted for living in the past, not the present and not the future. So, yes, their argument seems to be that depression might have promoted important changes or ways of living together. I read an interview with Edward Hagen (a prominent evolutionary psychologist) who said he really didn't know how research would fall out on this issue of depression, but that considering the fail of the medical model, we really should understand more about depression, including from an evolutionary perspective, before we go trying to apply treatment modalities that might cause more harm than good in many people.

    The argument they advocate is essentially that depression causes rumination and rumination solves problems, therefore, depression solves problems which makes it adaptive.

    But most clinical psychologists would turn that argument on its head: Depression doesn't cause rumination, rumination causes depression.
    Or more specifically: If certain patterns of ruminative thinking lead to depression (and they do), then those patterns are unproductive and maladaptive.
    I totally disagree here. Life circumstances cause depression. Which leads to rumination. It might seem like rumination causes depression in those with longer term depression, because the original source or reason might elude everyone, including the patient. But simple thinking in and of itself does not cause your normal garden variety physical depression that 30-50% of people suffer from.

    If certain patterns of ruminative thinking lead to problem-solving (and they do) then those patterns are productive and adaptive (and unlikely to lead to depressive symptoms).
    I.e. by the time one is depressed, one has already failed to solve the problem. Something has gone wrong with the problem-solving algorithm.
    Nah. Problems come out of no where sometimes, when you least expect it. Or they physically overwhelm you (postpartum depression), SAD, as well. Thinking doesn't cause these things to happen, they just happen. Sometimes they happen because enough care hasn't been taken (marital problems), but sometimes they just happen because life is hard. Rumination sets in, and hopefully, if given enough talk therapy, time, and healthy environment including life changes if needed, the person will adjust and their depression will dissipate. If not, then meds might be needed.

    (Btw, that doesn't mean the computer is broken! Brain morphology? Srsly?) Running the algorithm over and over again but expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Actually, this is what most people do when they don't seek help for depression but try to solve the problem entirely on their own. Many get worse, some commit suicide.
    I don't think anyone is advocating solving the problem on one's own. If anything, a care provider writing out a script is much more likely to remain uninvolved in that person's psychological life, because the meds take care of things, and make it easy. Not saying all care providers do this but many/most do and will. But you are jumping ahead. Simply considering a different etiology of depression says nothing about how to treat it or what works best.

    That's why I think articles like the ones published here, which encourage people to consider depression as healthy and adaptive and something they should just get on with, are not only entirely unscientific and speculative but also deeply irresponsible.
    And I think the more disciplines that get involved and shed some light on psychological disorders, the better. Psychology needs all the help it can get.
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  5. #65
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    In response to the OP: I doubt if depression is a blessing in disguise. I'm certainly not a psychologist, but in my opinion - objectively, rationally, and logically dissecting a situation in a manner that leads to the production of viable escape options is ideal and should not lead to depression. Depression in a healthy individual is likely to occur when upon doing the aforementioned no viable solution to the problem is obtained. Then helplessness, loss of motivation, and likely depression will result from the lack of control over the situation.

    So in my opinion a depressed person - that is depressed as a result of a mental illness - will likely continue to be depressed despite the improvement of their difficult life situations or even having the ability to make changes to those situations. Since as a result of their mental illness they are not able to think clearly.

    If a healthy person becomes depressed as a result of having no control over their unfortunate situation and no options for improving it then it is likely their depression would vanish instantly if a solution to their problem could be obtained. However, I suspect that a mentally ill person in a similar situation would soon be depressed again or possibly even remain depressed despite any improvement in their problems.

  6. #66
    Senior Member Array durentu's Avatar
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    Mar 2008


    Dr Seligman (credentials: Martin Seligman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) states that in the history of mental illness, only 14 are treatable, and only 2 are curable. the DSM-IV lists over 350 mental disorders. And their definition of mental disorder in their introduction is very dubious. The DSM is a great work of fiction.

    Do not get confused in the linguistics. Mental disorder is not a disease. No amount of behaviors used as diagnostic criteria in DSM can ever be a disease. You can fake a mental disorder, but you cannot fake a disease. Why? objective tests.

    During slavery, drapetomania was a valid psychological diagnosis. Drapetomania was a mental disorder that made slave run away from their owners.

    I take the viewpoint of Albert Ellis and his REBT. It's one's belief system that changes behaviors. And all mental illnesses are based on diagnosing behaviors. No drugs needed, just change your beliefs. The concept is that simple, but it's hard to do. This is life.

    "There is no such thing as mental illness, only varying degrees of irresponsibility" - Thomas Szasz

    Clinical depression is a marketing term used by pharmaceuticals to push sales of their drugs. Psychologists will agree that there is absolutely no solid scientific evidence of mental disorders and they cannot explain why a 'disorder' is found in the population in excess of 5%. I read numbers from 20-60%.

    If you need the drugs, you can get them. They can help to stop a terminal episodes like suicide by short circuiting the brain. Then ask, what does a successful depression treatment/cure look like? If you're going to fight, it's best to know what you're fighting.
    "People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds; it is something one creates." - Thomas Szasz

  7. #67
    Senior Member Array cafe's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
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    Personally, having been diagnosed with Bipolar type two, what seems to have caused a great reduction in symptoms is a combination of not letting my extroverted mom make me run around all the time, not being desperately poor, some cognitive therapy for co-dependence, and refusing to beat up on myself for my tendency to have low energy.

    Have tried several meds and none of them did much but make me feel worse.

    My husband, OTOH, was helped a great deal by taking Prozac for awhile. He was in a nasty loop of bad work situation --> depression --> no motivation to change work situation --> bad work situation.

    Not long after starting on Prozac, he was able to think clearly enough to start training for a better paying, more suitable for his personality job. That has ultimately reduced his symptoms to the point that he doesn't need the medication, though I think he will always be a bit of an Eeeyore.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
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  8. #68
    Senior Member Array Synapse's Avatar
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    Dec 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by Morgan Le Fay View Post
    I tend to agree. The fact is, our understanding of normal brain function is so limited that even the people who manufacture and prescribe anti-depressant drugs don't fully understand their effects. For that reason, and because of the wide-ranging side-effects, I wouldn't advise anyone to take them lightly. In fact, there is little evidence that they are efficacious in mild to moderate cases.
    Seconds that.

    Its obvious that too few people understand how the endocrine system functions in their body and reacts in their minds, is then the endocrine system a mental illness? Which is a shame that for the most part mental illness is seen as a separate state from endocrine disruption.

  9. #69
    Intriguing.... Array Quinlan's Avatar
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    Apr 2008


    Evolution won't weed out depression unless it prevents you ever having and raising children.

    It's probably not that depression was an advantage it just wasn't enough of a disadvantage to be weeded out.

    It's not about survival of the fittest but survival of the fit enough.
    Act your age not your enneagram number.

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  10. #70
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Array Mole's Avatar
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    Mar 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by Quinlan View Post
    It's not about survival of the fittest but survival of the fit enough.
    The, "Origin of Species", and the sequencing of the genome teaches us that the genome that fits the environment is the one that reproduces.

    The survival of the fittest or even the survival of the fit enough is called Social Darwinism.

    And Social Darwinism is an ideology of the robber barons of the 19th Century.

    Also Social Darwinism fits hand in glove with the doctrine of Predestination.

    And Social Darwinism led to eugenics which reached its apogee in Germany in the 1930s.

    And environments change, such as the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction about 65 million years ago, which led to our genome fitting the environment.

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