Defining depression

What differentiates real depression from simply an extended mood slump? How do doctors treat a disaffected person who is a successful professional, whose enthusiasm for their profession and for life in general is literally running on fumes most of the time?

Are drugs like Prozac good for this? Do these drugs allow you to be motivated and up and at 'em when all that seems to have been bled out of your soul? What happens when you just can’t suck it up and stick it out anymore? How can a person recharge their emotional batteries before the downward attitudinal spiral, emotional numbness, negativity and generalized sadness and disgust with one’s self becomes too deep a pit to climb out of?

What happens when a 'strong person" who everyone counts on just can’t be strong anymore? What are the best drugs to ask for if you have this kind of problem?

Depression is diagnosed in a number of ways, the main one being the length of time one has been feeling ‘blue’. Also people can manifest the condition in different ways, some do the crying routine, others, as you have suggested, can feel numb or oblivious to the world. It’s really important to get onto a good doctor to help you with treatments, which again can vary.
Sometimes psychotherapy alone can help, other times you might need some pharmacological assistance to get you to the point where therapy is effective.

As to which drug? Some work for some people, others work/or not as the case may be, for others. You might need to try a few before getting the one that helps you most effectively.
I personally found that Prozac was the one to get me out of a long-standing relationship with severe depression, and this was even after I was (unsuccessfully) treated with ECT and squillions of other antidepressants.

Take care, and all the best for your search. As sometimes painful and overwhelming as depression is, just remember that it IS possible to recover. It is so easy to lose sight of this when you feel completely hopeless. And also keep in mind that a ‘break-down’ can be a wonderfully liberating thing…you’ll never go back to the old ways of doing things, and you can only move forward!

You’ll probably never find a better description of depression than the one posted by irony in this thread, and you’ll probably never find a better 24/7 web starting point for getting immediate help than this one.

Good luck. :slight_smile:

The opinion of a psychiatrist.
They can’t test for it the way you’d test for elevated white blood cell count or cholesterol level or antibody titer. The diagnosis is made on the basis of behavioral and (reported) emotional symptoms alone. In fact, you could say that the existence of the so-called “mental illness” called “depression” is hypothetical and unproven. Certainly there are patterns – phenomenae, if you will – that reoccur in case after case, and it IS different from you generic case of the bummers. Most likely they are right that biochemistry creates a self-perpetuating situation in which you are bummed out because you aren’t doing anything and can’t do anything because you are bummed out and don’t have the energy to break out of the cycle. What is far less likely, and is not supported in any shape way fashion or form is the assertion of the psychiatric community that the CAUSE of this situation is medical (biochemical or genetic or otherwise physiological) rather than social or contextual, and in my opinion it is not.

IM(NS)HO, based on experience in the anti-psychiatric movement, you get depressed as a result of not dealing with the bummers until the emotional downers and pains that were supposed to provoke you into changing your circumstances become self-perpetuating and you slide into the rut called “depression”. And sometimes psychoactive substances will help snap you out of it, although (again IMHO) Elavil and Mellaril and Prozac and Wellbutrin are nowhere near as effective as LSD or even a prolonged walk with no destination and money for motels and meals in one’s wallet.

Suggested reading: Gotkin, Janet. Too much anger, too many tears

Just to clarify, AH3, are you the psychiatrist whose opinion you are quoting?

Well, I can state first-hand that I had to be told I was depressed before I realized what was wrong with me. But now that I know, I can say that REAL depression is marked by the prolonged feeling that nothing really matters. Why work hard? Why be on time for work? Why shave in the morning? Why get out of bed?
This is usually accompanied by feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and maybe a feeling that you might be losing your mind. It is also common for people to either have insomnia or sleep TOO much (like 12 hours a night) but feel unrested. I experienced most of these symptoms to one degree or another. (I had insomnia.)

astro from the tone of your OP, it sounds like you think taking anti-depressants might be some kind of cure-all. Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. Drugs only treat the physical symptoms of depression, such as an imbalance of serotonin in the brain. Unless your depression is brought on by a one-time life-altering event like the death of a loved one, you are going to have to do more than take drugs.
If you are “the strong one” whom everyone relies on, perhaps it’s time to rethink taking on that role. Nobody is superhuman. Over time, anyone can crack under stress. Part of therapy is recognizing what things break you down, and dealing with them in a way that bleeds off the stress before it builds too much. If you are the person who everyone always relied on, perhaps its time to share the load with someone else. Get a confidant, or else don’t volunteer to solve other peoples’ problems. These are just examples.

No, I mean that the definitive differerence between clinical depression and an extended mood slump is the opinion of a psychiatrist that you’re suffering from depression.

Listen to Lizard. Words to the wise indeed.

Depression IMHO

A lack of joy. The inability to find happiness in things that used to bring joy.



Depression is a euphemism for the unhappiness caused by the problems associated by global capitalism.

Never mind that they have some chemicals that cause it, social factors are the cause of them in turn. Same with many other mental illnesses.

Depression is a euphemism for the unhappiness caused by the social problems associated by global capitalism.

Never mind that they have some chemicals that cause it, social factors are the cause of them in turn. Same with many other mental illnesses.

And then they mass produce super-drugs which supposedly “treat” it. This is capitalism at its most brazenly exploitative, creating a vicous circle of poor mental health and dependency on drugs.

In terms of emotional welfare, “strong” doesn’t work for anyone, if they keep it up they’ll be doubly unhappy. You need to share your feelings if you can.

papertiger, I never do this but PLEASE provide a cite that shows global capitalism causes depression.

For me, I absolutely believe that it was a chemical imbalance. I was in a horrible, prolonged sadness (many people say one of the symptoms of depression is prolonged slumps of more than two weeks).

Things I loved I no longer did. I quit writing, quit cooking, came home from work, took a bath and went straight to bed. I didn’t talk to my husband, I cried for no reason, and nothing made me happy.

After starting medication I noticed a change in almost two weeks. Most notably, an increase in energy and decrease in anxiety (a disorder also struggle with)

Six months on medication and I’m really on the upswing I feel. I just started therapy and it’s helping me to sort things out.


Papertiger - it’s been nearly 24 hours and I don’t see any cites. Do you have any?

I was wondering that myself Papermache.

I will admit that our current world is very stressful and that the demands placed on men and women from many media outlets and career paths and the like can contribute to depression. But more often, it’s a problem within the brain causes those triggers to work.

Now that I’m on medication I’m still all about the capitalism…

::cue trumpets of doom::

Okay, so I’m gonna pop in here with a question. And I know, I know, I should see a doctor. I want your opinions (and sorry if this is a hijack, astro).

What if someone doesn’t fit all the symptoms of depression, but there is definitely something wrong?

You don’t have to have all the symptoms to be depressed, or to be diagnosed as such. Much like a cold, or flu not everyone gets all the symptoms.
Astro-the others have said it. The key question is how long have you felt like this? Have any negative events(death of relatives, hearing Celine Dion sing, etc) happened to cause or contribute to this feeling?

Ahunter3-I disagree. I’ve been chronically depressed for 7 or so years. Nothing helps except the pills. With them, I can get out of bed in the morning, eat, change clothes, and go grocery shopping. Without them, I have severe anxiety attacks about every 30 minutes, and go days without eating or changing clothes. A long walk ain’t gonna fix my problems.

       When this all started, I had nothing to be depressed about. I was in college, had friends and everything was great. There were no unresolved issue or circumstances that caused this. My neurochemisty changed. The pills I was on stopped working.

PaperTiger-This is not anything remotely like an appropriate place to voice your agenda. Sadly,this is not a Pit thread. So I can’t say what I’m feeling. Just fill the following blank space with whatever insults you consider most grievous ( -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------)

I am currently studying Psychology Honours at Stellenbosch and our latest lecturer (who is the head of the psych dept btw) says that there IS a cure-all: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy + Drugs.

He says that CBT is the first form of psyhcotherapy that works quickly enough to for it to be assessed in an empirical way.

I was hella sceptical of this when he started:
Me:“But it doesnt deal with the underlying issues.”
Him:" True! However it will make people feel much better for the rest of their lives, something that other treatments claim to be able to do but dont actually do"
Me: “ummmm… I cant fight that”

He reckons that CBT can alleviate roughly 80% of the symptoms of depression within 8 weeks of treatment. This is farking impressive if it is true… and it seems to be.

So my advice to you is to try a regular therapist for a few sessions. Maybe you just need someone to talk to. Failing that try and find a place near you that offers short-term CBT treatment programs.

Tell us how it goes k?


Hey, I’m all for the value of CBT. But a thorough physical, unless one has been done recently, is a good first step. Some diseases produce symptoms resembling depression.

DocCathode said what I wanted to say, so I’ll just add (Papertiger ----------------------------------------------------- you ----------------------------------------)


It’s up to you to decide how bad you have to feel and how long you have to feel bad before it would be acceptable to talk with a professional.

I don’t know anyone who needed medication or other forms of treatment who ever said “I wish I had stayed dead inside just a little longer.”

[Moderator Underoos On]Papertiger, your post was an unwelcome and off-topic attempt to inject your politics into a non-political thread.
Do not do this again.[/Moderator Underoos On]

Papertiger, while I do not defend your ranting post about the causes of depression HERE (unless you are personally aquainted with Astro, I doubt you are qualified to judge the source of his profound melancholy) I DO believe that modern capitalism and the globalization process does have something to do with people feeling disconnected from the world.
And MAYBE that disconnection can lead to a more personal disconnection as well, and MAYBE that can lead to depression.

However, you cannot deny that there have been many famous depressives and BPD’s throughout history (and perhaps just as many not-so-famous…just not diagnosed as such) so blaming ‘the system’ seems naive in many ways.

Perhaps it would be better to start another thread if you want to discuss the trials and tribulations of the post-modern existence.