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We need a new name for Depression

There is a problem with the public perception of depression. It’s the same problem as theory or murder, in that the technical term means something different than the colloquial term. Depression in the colloquial sense means to be a bit sad for a bit. I’ll give an example… “I haz a sad *teh sigh* is sad” There, that’s colloquial depression. After the sigh, I’m right back to babbling and being smarter than the rest of you put together. No problem there, that’s actually not a bad definition of depression. It’s a period of sadness and the things that go along with being sad for a while.

But then, we get the problem. That’s not really what depression means. Clinical depression is less about the surface state, or even your actual emotions, and more about having a depressed system. Being depressed in that sense is “Working at less than optimal levels.” Even when a manic depressive is in their manic stage, they are still operating below their optimum. Only at those times, their system is trying desperately to compensate, often over compensating as a result. Those manic periods can result in an even more powerful lapse into depression, creating a dangerous cycle.

However, there are many other manifestations that depression can take. Being tired is often a complaint, and that’s got little to do with the emotional state of the person. This is why people who try to describe depression often have a problem explaining the problem to other people. Yes, often there is an emotional state you might call sadness. However, mental and physical exhaustion cannot be ignored when discussing the problem. You can’t simply be “Snapped out of” as the glib so often enjoy saying. One cannot “snap out of” a need to sleep thirteen hours a day. If one is fully and completely exhausted, but otherwise fairly cheerful, then that doesn’t fit into the colloquial definition of depression.

It is here that the problem can take confusing twists and turns. Your clinical depression doesn’t even necessarily have actual sadness. Sometimes you have a situation where sadness would be preferable because that would at least be an emotion. There are plenty of depressives who suffer what can only be described as a cessation of emotion. There is no sadness, no excitement, no reaction at all to any stimuli. The closest they can come is an occasional explosion of emotion, after allowing it to build up for a considerable amount of time. This usually manifests itself in some form of unacceptable behavior. That’s not being sad, that’s being nothing much of anything. An outside observer might attempt to interpret that state as being sad, but it’s really REALLY not. As far as feeling goes, it’s a step down from sad, it’s nothing.

This is the main problem, most religious people tend not to understand that atheism is having no religion at all. The phrase “atheism is your religion” gets tossed around to underline the lack of understanding. Equally, people think depression is just feeling sad, or feeling anything at all. As I said, in some cases it’s not even a manifestation of emotion. It’s purely a physical manifestation of being too bloody tired to focus on more complicated and involved than twitter, which is great because you can just read the little lines and even people who you want to read can’t go on for pages and pages.


June 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment