Depression’s Silver Lining
People suffering from depression know that kind words alone simply aren’t enough to get them through a bad spot. They’re also – mostly at least – painfully aware that there’s no cure for the condition. Try as they might, the deep struggle with depression isn’t something that can be ‘got over’.
However, new research suggests that depression might just have the slightest silver lining that could offer a meaningful shimmer of hope to the 1 million Australians suffering from the condition, and the many millions more worldwide.
An adaptive purpose
Researchers at McMaster and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health indicate that depression may be the result of an adaptation of dealing with intricate problems that seem impossible to manage.
Depression sufferers are often overcome with the complexity of solving a major issue, which can often leave them bereft in a quicksand-like period of inactivity. This in turn leads to a decline in the care and maintenance of other life aspects, including social contact, and eating and sleeping patterns.
The 20-question test created by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health allows the ‘analytical rumination’ of patients to be measured – and herein lies the first part of the silver lining. Essentially, the answers provided by patients allow clinicians and researchers to understand the various roots of depression, and create relevant and informed recovery plans for care and support.
This further allows for better insight into the adaptive purpose of depression and how it can be used to strengthen recovery. In treating depression, the 20-question test is a vital technique arising from the need to deal with both diagnosed depression and any complicated crisis situations that may go along with the condition. Thus, the condition is regarded as more than just a mental illness.
According to Paul Andrews, an assistant professor of psychology, neuroscience and behaviour at McMaster, most cases of depression relate to specific incidents, and by understanding the source of the condition, the adaptive ability and analytical thinking patterns of depressed people can be rerouted to a path of recovery and positive thought processes.
It might not seem like a silver lining, but the fact that people can be freed from the grip of clinical depression and return to a normal lifestyle is nothing short of a bright side. Professional medical services such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can assist in encouraging patient reflections on the way they think, react and behave, and can influence their path to recovery from depression.
Recent research by Andrews and colleagues suggests that by recognising symptoms including low energy levels, affected performance at work or school, changes in weight, disrupted sleeping patterns and supressed appetite, a better evaluation can be made, and treatment methods can be determined to deal with challenging circumstances as they arise.
The authors of the study also suggest that recognition of personal vulnerabilities may enable sufferers to process and reflect upon their emotions and reach out for help. This also makes depression more treatable, as the constant awareness of one’s feelings and emotions allows one to better deal with problems that come up.
A common theme among those who have gone through depression and shared their stories to inspire others is the outcome of stronger, focused individuals who understand the importance of support, affirmation and positive thinking.
Although the lived experience of depression is a true nightmare and these silver linings may seem dim, gather up the courage to confront your emotions and share them with someone you trust and love. Maybe, just maybe, the silver lining of depression will make an appearance, and guide you to the path of rediscovering your inner value and purpose.
Marcus regularly writes for psysci, a psychology & science blog that examines the latest research in mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, explaining how findings can impact and improve people’s lives.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Doctus Project.