Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Am I Depressed or Just Deep?

I spent my adolescence and teenage years obsessing about this question: Am I depressed or just deep?  

When I was nine, I figured that I was a young Christian mystic because I related much more to the saints who lived centuries ago than to other nine-year-old girls who had crushes on boys. I couldn’t understand how my sisters could waste quarters on a stupid video game when there were starving kids in Cambodia. Hello? Give them to UNICEF! 
Now I look back with tenderness to the hurting girl I was and wished somebody had been able to recognize that I was very depressed.
Not that I would have accepted the help. I believed, along with all the other adults in my life, that my melancholy and sensitivity were part of my “special” make-up, that they were gifts to celebrate, not neuroses to treat. And should I take meds that helped me laugh and play and design cool barrettes like the other girls, well, then I would lose my depth.
On the PBS website “This Emotional Life”–a multi-platform project centered on a three-part series documentary to be broadcast in early 2010 hosted by Harvard psychologist and bestselling author Daniel Gilbert–psychologist Paula Bloom discusses the topic of being deep versus being depressed. On her blog post “Am I Depressed or Just Deep?,” she writes:


Sometimes, people confuse being depressed with being philosophical. If I had a dollar (well, maybe $2) for every time I hear “I am not depressed, I am just realistic”, “Anyone who isn’t depressed isn’t paying attention”, or “Life has no meaning and I am going to die, how can I be happy?” I could likely support a hardcore latte habit. Depression can have such an effect on your worldview. 

There are a few basic existential realities we all confront: mortality, aloneness and meaninglessness. Most people are aware of these things. A friend dies suddenly, a coworker commits suicide or some planes fly into tall buildings-these events shake most of us up and remind of us of the basic realities. We deal, we grieve, we hold our kids tighter, remind ourselves that life is short and therefore to be enjoyed, and then we move on. Persistently not being able to put the existential realities aside to live and enjoy life, engage those around us or take care of ourselves just might be a sign of depression.?? 


We all get sad sometimes, struggle to fall asleep, lose our appetite or have a hard time focusing. Does this mean we are depressed? Not necessarily. So how do you know the difference? The answer, as with most psychological diagnoses comes down to one word: functioning. How are you sleeping and eating? Are you isolating yourself from others? Have you stopped enjoying the things you used to enjoy? Difficulty focusing and concentrating? Irritable? Tired? Lack of motivation? Do you feel hopeless? Feel excessively guilty or worthless? Experiencing some of these things may be a sign of depression.

Peter Kramer, clinical professor of psychiatry at Brown University, devotes an entire book to this question. He wrote “Against Depression” in response to his frustration of repeatedly being asked the same question: “What if Prozac had been available in van Gogh’s time?” 

In a New York Times essay, “There’s Nothing Deep About Depression,” which was adapted from “Against Depression,” Kramer writes: 

Depression is not a perspective. It is a disease. Resisting that claim, we may ask: Seeing cruelty, suffering and death — shouldn’t a person be depressed? There are circumstances, like the Holocaust, in which depression might seem justified for every victim or observer. Awareness of the ubiquity of horror is the modern condition, our condition. 


But then, depression is not universal, even in terrible times. Though prone to mood disorder, the great Italian writer Primo Levi was not depressed in his months at Auschwitz. I have treated a handful of patients who survived horrors arising from war or political repression. They came to depression years after enduring extreme privation. Typically, such a person will say: ”I don’t understand it. I went through — ” and here he will name one of the shameful events of our time. ”I lived through that, and in all those months, I never felt this.” This refers to the relentless bleakness of depression, the self as hollow shell. To see the worst things a person can see is one experience; to suffer mood disorder is another. It is depression — and not resistance to it or recovery from it — that diminishes the self. 


Beset by great evil, a person can be wise, observant and disillusioned and yet not depressed. Resilience confers its own measure of insight. We should have no trouble admiring what we do admire — depth, complexity, aesthetic brilliance — and standing foursquare against depression. 

Kramer’s words are consoling to a depressive who spends 90 percent of her energy a day combating thoughts saying she is depressed because she lacks the stamina to be optimistic. In fact, the first time I read Kramer, I experienced profound relief. However, I still maintain that some of my depth caused by depression is a good thing. Not on the days where I’m in excruciating pain, of course. But should I have been one of those nine-year-olds who got excited about which color ribbon I could use to make my barrettes and wasted her quarters on Pacman … well, I wouldn’t be writing this blog.


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  • Anne

    This is so close to home. Creativity and mental illness are often linked in people’s minds. In the extreme, we give celebrities a pass on drug addiction or other types of acting out; it is said they do these things because they are creative. While it is true that writing or acting or other arts may be a good outlet for expression; they are not a cure for depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. It can be a hard balance to achieve; knowing when creativity is helpful. Extreme flights of fancy are not nor is extreme empathy for people we have never met. I really appreciate the viewpoints that you blog about covering these many issues and helping us gain perspective.

  • Mark

    “Persistently not being able to put the existential realities aside to live and enjoy life, engage those around us or take care of ourselves just might be a sign of depression.”
    According to this, both Buddha and Jesus were deeply depressed people. And honestly, how can you put aside the most important questions of human existence to live and enjoy life, before you’re able to resolve those questions somehow? Isn’t that just avoidance? And wouldn’t those issue poison your enjoyment of life unless they were resolved somehow?
    That’s the reason why I like transpersonal psychologies, which unlike cognitive and other “here and now” related approaches, deal with these questions and recognize their importance and answer in the traspersonal spheres of life (Jung, Grof, etc.).

  • Your Name

    I treasured the ‘lives of the saints’ little books that I had as a child. I have always noticed injustice and cruelty more than other people. Having grown into an adult and been depressed for years, I cry when I hear about how people suffer. I have never understood why other people don’t have the same reaction. I don’t know that I can ever get past the sadness. Yet sadness is totally unproductive. It doesn’t benefit anyone. The challenge for me is to know and have empathy for people, then be able to act to do something to end suffering. Depression takes away the ability to act to the solve problems that create suffering. Our great spiritual leaders could see suffering, have compassion and not be distroyed by it. That was their lesson. Either you transcend the suffering by faith or by acknowledgement that everyone suffrs and our essence is without suffering. In fact, Buddha said, “I teach only suffering and the end to suffering,” I appreciated your blog today, it gave me a new perspective. Thank you.

  • Your Name

    I have been feeling this state of depression for a long time…I thought maybe I wasn’t depressed and just a lil down but losing hopefulness, what can I do to help myself??

  • Your Name

    When I feel depressed I am sad. When I am suffering from depression I can see no hope for things to get better and I can not think of anyone but myself even if I make an effort to. True depression seems to deplete me of any artistic desire or energy, and I find any attempt to express myself artistically during these bouts are simply exercises in self pity, seeking comiseration. It does not seem to be that you either have “depth” and suffer for the sake of feeling the world as is or you go take medication. There seems to be a lot of in between. Depression is a feeling,even deep sometimes, and it is also a disease that kills tens of thousands a year just here in the USA. Ask others about your “depth” vs. Depression and see what your loved ones think.

  • Catherine

    Once again, up-to-date, technical, psychological info clarifies confusion for me, family, bosses, and friends. Terese, your search, delivery, personal sharing and compassion have done it again.

  • DorothyK

    I am living with a man who is extremly OCD when it comes to organization, and cleanliness. I am not a slob, but I am very forgetful and unorganized. His nagging, and displeasure has caused me to feel worthless, even tho I know I’m not, and I have asked him to leave several times. He has no place to go, I guess. I also have 2 children with special needs and am severely below poverty standards, but we are both students trying to change our situations. I have made many changes and asked for advice on how to make him happy, but honestly after a year of living together I do not think it is possible considering our personality traits. This morning he really hurt my feelings. I went to hug him goodbye, not kiss, and he gave me a stranger pat on the back, because I felt ill yesterday. I can not go through this constant rejection from him anymore. I just can’t.

  • Your Name

    I have been in the same state of mind, is it depression or am i just spiritually deep. I have recently completed a life review healing ministry and I truly have now found me Virginia the person, and new ways of seeing, thinking and speaking. With this new awakening into my self, I now do not react to issues in a crisis mode anymore. I have truly learned I am here to support you but not to carry you anymore. I have been carrying for so long, it is all I knew how to do and I did it quite well. So, I am now thinking what is wrong with me or now more importantly what is right with me. There are times when I am just in a limbo state of mind. I truly believe this is part of the healing process and yes a little depression is part of the letting go. I feel we need to acknowledge all of our feelings. They are our feelings,our Creator gave us these feelings. So we do need to embrace them. The dark feelings,see their purpose, speak to them and send them light and move on. I know I am in constant communication with Jesus, Father, Son and Holy Spirt and all the Heavenly Angels and Aides. Constantly asking for wisdom and discernment.

  • Jann

    to Dorothy K,
    Your mental health and self esteem are more valuable than staying in a relationship that is unsupportive and critical. I walked away from a marriage to a loyal, high income husband because he did not believe I suffered from depression, was uncommunicative and we could not relate or connect to each other. As a result, I had to start over again and it took many years to recover. IT WAS WORTH IT.
    Good luck to you and your children. You need to look after yourself first so that you can be the best Mom for your children.
    Love and Light,

  • Your Name

    I was the same way at 9 – watching those starving children on tv, crying my eyes out for them; having sleepless nights in the summer; and growing up in intense fear of my family circumstances. Now, a mom responsible for three children, one with special needs, has made my mental life unstable. I too keep hearing to Hold On, that maybe there is hope, hope for some sort of peace and happiness in my life. That maybe I can walk around with a big smile on my face, and for it to be real. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, they are so parallel to mine.

  • Judeth

    Depression has become a buzz word in this culture and most assessments are subjective. True bi-polar can be determined with a simple blood test and most behavioral problems like OCD have B vitamin deficiencies. Many of the anti-depressant medication are only suppose to be used for severe depressive states and after only food allergies and other imbalances are ruled out. 46% of the population should not be eating wheat and wheat (gluten) has a direct link to depression. All this information can be located on the Net, you just have to know where to look. A good reference book that gives orthomolecular suggestions that I have used as a nutritionist for my clients is Natural Healing for Schizophrenia and other Common Mental Disorders by Eva Edelman

  • undefined

    Depression as Love, Hate, Friendship is and can be as wide as the sea. Somethimes we see a landing then other times is is just waves in our lives. The smart thing is to know when the land is good and where to step ashore. Many times we step in to relationship based on what we see and feel and a little of what we thingk the Holy Spirit is saying and I say little for he is not shouting like the rest of you are doing. To have someone to love you is what need a maid you pay in your case it is with your body which is wrong now for you are not in tune to what God has said for living together, (You must be married). To help some is good to have them run your life well that is not right, this mean you have given them control over you and they now own you. Let go and move on the hand of God and watch ow wonderful your life will turn out for you and youl kids. God is Waiting For You.

  • Frederick A. Arend

    Those who are pro-abortion believe that babies are not alive or/either babies, until they are born. This is logically impossible because human beings cannot be alive before they are alive. States or conditions of existence previous to life are, therefore, logically impossible. If humans are alive at berth, therefore, then, they must have been alive before berth. This is a logical fact.

  • Brad

    Thanks for the Blog. It is informative and makes one think deeply-no pun intended. I am a sufferer myself and as one of my friends said recently which I agree with”if I could cut off one of my legs to stop this depression I would.” I would gladly give up limbs to never have had Major Depression. Now, this dreaded disease has a life of it’s own. It has colored my world with a black haze that although clears up some at times eventually thickens up again sooner than later. I hate,despise,and curse this disease for what it has done to me and others. I can think of no reasons pro for Depression what so ever. Depression has not added one thing positive to my life.
    Depression plain and simple destroys lives in so many ways, not to mention the fall out to love ones or to marriages.

  • Michael Schneider

    I appreciate this article’s author having taken the time to write it.
    “Beset by great evil, a person can become wise…” is one of the best quotes I have ever, ever heard. I will not ever forget those words… thank you again.
    My Highest Regards,
    Michael Schneider

  • Your Name

    I read being depressed is a disease. I am not sure I agree unless it is a disease to choose to be depressed. We don’t always need to play the blame game. I feel we our blaming our depression on a disease. No, we all get depressed but to call it a disease gives us less hope. I have had a rough life so I know we must take responsibility to climb out of depression by finding what means something to us and working toward it. Lets stop making excuses and start finding solutions. This calling depression a disease is poppy cock in my opinion!

  • Larry Parker

    Ah, the old debate between depression and “the dark night of the soul” …
    I think it is possible, based on what has been publicized recently about Mother Teresa, to have BOTH. (And maybe you did too, Therese.)
    Mother Teresa clearly had grave doubts about her religious calling and even core beliefs that prayer and other rituals did not alleviate, and these saddened her enormously — perhaps clinically.
    But if she was clinically depresssed, she was not immobilized in the sense that she was still able to ACT to help the people of Kolkata. In a way that, say, Primo Levi was not immobilized amid the horrors of Holocaust concentration camps — and yet tragically was during his final suicidal spiral.
    It is the severity of depression, I think, that marks the difference — whether one can act in the face of doubt, or is paralyzed by it. And that, I think, is a distinction anyone from an atheist to the Pope can determine.
    PS — In the interest of people who may just be realizing they have depression and have come to Therese’s blog for the first time, it is urgent to correct two things on this comment page.
    1. While there is lots of evidence that vitamins and supplements (e.g., fish oil) can help depression, there is no evidence that a lack of vitamins and supplements is the SOLE cause of depression.
    2. I cannot emphasize strongly enough, for anyone with bipolar disorder (such as myself), THERE IS NO BLOOD TEST TO DIAGNOSE BIPOLAR DISORDER.
    Thus, there will always be a measure of (yes) doubt about our diagnoses — as a Catholic might say, one more cross we with depression have to bear.

  • Huh?

    The point where you may reliably distinguish depression from pessimism is the point at which you lose the ability to function in society. Nothing more, nothing less. Then you have three options: get better without drugs, get better with drugs, or commit suicide.
    Playing semantic games will not help the issue at its core. And the issue is not depression. The issue is, do we really want to live in a world where you can’t distinguish someone truly objective and rational from someone clinically depressed?

  • Your Name

    I am 57 and just realized that I have probably been depressed most of my life. I have also learned that medicine alone won’t help. We have to be willing to work with the meds, not against them. Like exercise, getting out of the house, etc. It takes every ounce of ability I have to just get out of bed, much less get dressed. I have started giving myself out project each day to do. It may be as simple as washing, sweeping, watering the plants. As long as I can accomplish that one thing I can feel good about the day. The one thing I don’t have is family support. I constantly hear “YOU DON’T LOOK DEPRESSED”. “WHAT ARE YOU DEPRESSED ABOUT”? I have learned to hide alot of my feelings and cry myself to sleep. People treat anyone with depression like lepers.

  • Eileen Lichtenstein

    powerfully written, Therese. All the best with your book!

  • Nikka

    This is a good read. I especially like the part where you differentiated feeling sad with feeling depressed. I thought that these two words were synonyms but there is, in fact, a difference – particularly in functioning. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

  • John McManamy

    Hey, Therese. Interesting conversation, here. From my personal perspective:
    1. Any depression that is not part of my temperament sucks – whether mild or severe. Take my depression – please. They throw me off my game, they wreck my life. Whether it’s a depression that is the equivalent of a mild cold or one that is psychic double pneumonia I seriously don’t want to be occupying my brain. This is the true illness.
    2. At the same time, mild to moderate depression is part of my temperament, my personality (as is hypomania). As opposed to my illness depressions, I’m very comfortable in this state. It is a part of who I am. My energy is down, my thoughts tend to be very dark, but – here’s the key difference – I thrive in this state. My mind is quiet and contemplative. It’s as if I’m calmly sifting through the ideas I rounded up in my hypomanic frenzies. Most of my best writing occurs in this state, as do my comtemplative moments taking walks.
    We tend to get hung up on DSM-IV check lists while ignoring a key DSM injunction, namely that a mental illness is only a mental illness when the symptoms interfere with our ability to function (as in work or relationships). So – from my personal perspective – if I am comfortable and not struggling while depressed, then I don’t regard myself as having an illness that needs to be treated.
    Now let’s flip it. I also get hypomanic, and I’ve written a lot about this. Here’s the test: For Marilyn Monroe to act like Marilyn Monroe (at least when she’s up) – that’s normal. For someone else to act like Marilyn Monroe, on the other hand – that’s probably not normal and bad things may happen.
    So, back to depression. For me to act like me (when I am down), under most situations that is normal for me. I can handle it, it is healthy. For someone else to act like me, that’s probably not normal. They can’t handle it. They would like freak out. Bad things are likely to happen.
    It gets complicated when we get to those in between areas. When does my productive depression start becoming a nuisance and when does the nuisance seriously start messing me up? Similarly, when does my upbeat hypomania turn into social embarrassment into something that causes me to make very bad decisions?
    It’s as if we’re turning up the heat. When, in effect, instead of a nice warm soak in the tub, do we find ourselves in hot water? Everyone has different tolerance thresholds, and you can make a good case that we can expand the range of these tolerance thresholds to lead healthier lives. Of course, every time I congratulate myself on doing this, God just laughs and throws a psychic lightning bolt in my direction.
    So – my normal would probably cause most people to stay in bed for six months, or (in the other direction) have neighbors dialing 911.
    So, to your question – is it depression or being just deep? For me – personally – depression is depression. Physical stuff is happening in the brain, whether it interferes with our lives or not. Same with blood pressure. We may call blood pressure something else when it gets too high, but when all is said and done blood pressure is blood pressure.
    I hate the word, depression. It would be a lot more helpful to our understanding if we came up with something different, or went back to the old term melancholy.
    Anyway, these are my personal views only. I don’t claim any special knowledge here. All of us together are trying to figure this out, and I look forward to hearing from all of you.

  • Your Name

    Depression, like any other disease does, not form symptoms, cures, or the ability to cope for life with the disease, the same for any one person. If so, there would be ONE kind of PILL, but there are hundreds or thousands. THE TRUTH ABOUT antdepressamts is that each one works in less than 20% of the people who take them and they aren’t sure why or how they work.
    So, I am patient. I try something that seems it might work, and then it doesn’t, so my Doc and I go thru the guessing game some more. The bottom line is, are YOU more comfortable being depressed. I know I was (and sometimes still am), but you have to WANT TO GET WELL OR MAKE PROGRESS to do it. YOU HAVE TO TAKE ACTION, meds, therapy, pastoral counseling, getting the F out of bed the days you don’t want to and move on. YOU ARE NOT THE CENTER OF YOUR UIVERSE OR ANYONE ELSES. Do the WORK or STAY THE VICTIM (where you feel safe and comfortable cause you been there so long).
    WE HAVE A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE IMPACT ON OUR LOVED ONES AND WE HAVE THE SAME FOR PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND WHAT WE ARE GOING THROUGH. You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

  • Paula Bloom

    Wonderful piece! It is nice to know that people are reading what I put out there! This is a topic near and dear to my heart. For another piece of this conversation you may want to read a follow up blog post I wrote for PBS “Accessing faith though treating depression.”
    You might consider commenting on the PBS website with a link to your blog post!
    Best wishes on the continued journey,
    Paula Bloom

  • Michael

    “Depression” is the result of a working mind. There is nothing unusual about this state. It arises for good reasons. Without this humans would not progress.
    If a child pushes a square block into a round hole, would they not arise stress due to lack of fulfillment of their intentions?
    A man might lament having a broken ankle, and being unable to ski. This could arise depression, because his friends are off enjoying weeks of skiing. Yet, for all his want of skiing, his intention to enjoy through those actions will not be achieved.
    Those psychologists that pass out pills think they work at a level like God. They are more like mechanics that take things apart, and consider that they could possibly rebuild the engine. They use “inhibitors” on the mind that react like poison. They don’t have an understanding of the root cause of problems. They in fact seem to think that no one does. They can’t create a man, or a world, yet they can explain by conjecture what could be. They are following the will of their minds, and imagination.
    To repent one must truly seek to understand by questions and insight, the root intention that is trying to be fulfilled, and uplift the actions to allow fulfillment. Good actions nourish those around you. Thus, the fruits of your labors are good.
    The structure of the mind is like a tree, with causes and understandings leading to others. Thus, if you had a lopside tree you would pent it up, thus repent, and go back to the true way.
    To be true is to go straight. As a stone is true when water does not fall off the sides. This is how early levels were built for construction. Thus, make your yes be yes. Make your words be true to who you are, and your intentions fulfilled by actions. Then there is little need for concern of “depression.”
    Whether an act of blame, sadness, happiness, or what have you, the arising of such feelings has a good inner intention. The road to hell is truly paved with good intentions.

  • caroline (

    Thanks for writing this post. I had those same thoughts when I was a teenager! It’s awesome to see this article, and I appreciate the links as well.
    I particularly related to this: “And should I take meds that helped me laugh and play and design cool barrettes like the other girls, well, then I would lose my depth.” As an artist, I’ve often wondered if losing my “sensitivity” would mean I’d be less able or less motivated to make art. (then I go back and forth and think, ‘well if I weren’t depressed maybe I’d spend more time making art and less time sleeping, for gosh sakes!’). Since then, (as commentators and Paula Bloom have cited) I have sussed out that there is a level of sadness that I’m comfortable with, and other levels that are prohibitive and unhealthy. The more i research, the more I realise that depression is more a question of management, rather than ‘curing’, so depth and sensitivity will always be there if I need it, i guess.
    Have you read this NYTimes article? It gets into the antropological reasons for depression. I don’t like getting tangled up in the thought-process that depression is a ‘sign of intelligence’, particularly because i admire and like to be around happy people. I have to remind myself that it is emotionally intelligent to be resilient, and to maintain a positive outlook in the face of suffering etc.
    Thanks again for sharing these insights and resources!

  • David

    I have suffered from depression since I was a kid…finally realized that helping others is the key….and prayer…and thanks be to God!
    also…laughter and a great sense of humor helps..I don’t take myself so seriously anymore…nobody else does!:)

  • Jill Villalba

    *repent one must truly seek to understand by questions and insight, the root intention that is trying to be fulfilled, and uplift the actions to allow fulfillment. Good actions nourish those around you. Thus, the fruits of your labors are good.*
    Hi Michael, I hope you will try to help me understand what you mean exactly by this. I became a believer in 2003, but probably not a very good one. I have always been a very negative person and I’ve always had a hard time believing the things in the Bible pertained to me too. I always thought I wasn’t good enough and now I’m worse, cuz I feel God has left me. This man that I met years ago, well, he’s the one who taught me about Christ and I always put him on this pedestal, not really knowing any better. I leaned on him for quidance and whatever. We talked of marriage, but the timing never seemed right. Well, recently here while my granddaughter was in the hospital and we thought she might die. (she’s 6 yrs. old) I had this feeling to cut off my relationship with him, cuz it has bothered me for yrs. by not being married. So, we basicly said we would be friends, but then that scared me to be alone and I had this dreadful fear comeover me and it is scaring me so bad, I don’t know whether I will die today or the next. I am just petrified with fear and I know it doesn’t come from the Lord, but I rebuke it and rebuke it and then I can’t concentrate all day on anything but this fear. I will be crazy if I can’t get help or a miracle from God Almighty!! Please, will you write me back at my email, cause I’m not sure I will be able to find this blog site, I don’t go on here hardly at all. My email is I would so appreciate you writing me. May God Bless you for reading this an for writing me back. May the Good Lord that Blesses you, Bless me also. :) JiLL

  • Christine

    To all who are depressed:there is no answer of this world to grasp onto at this point in time. Look up and what do you see? The answer you first think of is an indicator of your attitude to life. Start at this point. Attitude.
    I also was a sensitive child that was trying to save the world with a bleeding heart. I didn’t experience true lonliness until I became a wife! life is a paradox sometimes. That is all I have to write.
    Peace unto you

  • christine

    i have been reading all these above articles regarding depression, and i must say one thing. People who have never experienced it cannot know what it feels like. i have been battling depression for years and i truly believe that there is a chemical imbalance that has a lot to do with depression. yes depression comes from all forms of tragic events, emotional events, death and despare, but when a person has no feeling emotionally, physicially , etc you cannot just pull yourself out of it nor can you talk yourself out of it because all your thoughts are on your feeling. i have been taking meds for a long time and at this point in my life i would like to be without them.BUT believe me i am right back to my old self with the meds and if thats what it takes, thats what i will do, why suffer when you don’t have to. some people say theraphy can get you through it but in my opinion the combination of both are the best.
    God bless to all that suffer as i do. and for what it is worth God does have a plan for each and everyone of us.

  • John A.

    It’s probably a little bit of both- they seem to go hand in hand. Probably oversensitive or hypersensitive or passive aggressive. Or perhaps I’m just a human being who has a chemical imbalance. Whatever it is I know like Christine that there is medication and their are health care professionals who can help you. I try to try. Sometimes I’m just comfortably numb- why should I force myself to feel good or be happy. I’m going forward one way or the other. I’m going to work, I’m going to play, and I’m going to pray. I’m going to be happy for others who are happy. I’m not going to be a wet blanket. I’m going to thank God that I can walk and breathe and see and feel. I’m not going to blame but rather forgive and I’m going to accept all of me. Thank you guys for helping me.

  • christijne

    hi john A i just want to say that you have a very good point regarding being over sensitive, hypertensive and passive aggressive.i myself am an EXTREMELY sensitive person and i take thinks to heart more than i should, but depression is a disease that touches almost everyone in their life and what ever way you can get through it God Bless you. i myself have not been fortunate enough to tough it out cause all my thoughts are on how i am feeling and i feel numb without any emotion, no joy. i cannot let my family suffer pain seeing me depressed so i will do anything to make that happen. i leave everything up to God cause i know there are reasons for everything, even depression and i also know that he will get me through this. don’t let yourself be unhappy when you don’t know why you are unhappy, because that is the chemical imbalance that is preventing you from seeing anything clear. believe me i have been there and i never want to be in that black hole again. i wish you well and i will pray for you.

  • rRobert

    Sensitive and conscientious ones…. You are the vital conscience the world desperately needs!
    Listen, when a person experiences strife and trouble in life and has a sensitive and conscientious mind, it stands to reason that person would have a sceptic view of the world. Though depression can be a chemical imbalance, I think it is many times the justifiable response to conditions in that life and the type of mindset that person has. Though drugs can help othe cope, the root of the issue should be dealt with as well. Otherwise, we are masking the worlds problems with drugs, these problems which are noticed by those with exceptionally sensitive minds. It should be recognized that the sensitive minds /hearts of the world are highly important to the betterment of humanity. Without them (you) the worldly pursuits of humanity would go unchecked in indulgent behavior. You are a key to balancing the greater world of humanity toward humility and compassion in this way. Thus try to consider that your sensitivity is purposeful and needed in a world, without which, the world would be void of compassion and consideration. Robert

  • Steve Cornell

    Another perspective: Normal sadness vs. biologically based depression: See: No room for sadness:

  • Joe Gonzalez

    i had already added a comment to this post, just now…it took me half an hour to write, and i hit the wrong button on the PC, and it was deleted. But, even though discouraged – is that neurotic ? – i’ll give it another try.
    Modern psychiatry is extremely pretentious. They have the answers to everything. But, like we know, to see if a tree is good, examine the fruit. There are more ‘ crazy ‘ people out there on the street today than ever before. Let’s not even talk about depression. It’s become the pill-makers best market. Antidepressants roll out in countless numbers and are readily and anxiously consumed by i don’t know how many.
    Psychiatric definitions ‘ sound ‘ very sound, but are hardly valuable, because highly unapplicable. If i spent 1 year in a concentration camp, i’d say i’d be highly proud to be depressed. It’s a normal human reaction to an abnormal and highly, extremely painful situation. And let’s not forget that psychiatry takes in your circumstances as formative of your mental state. So, if u tell me that there are some individuals that stay in a concentration camp for 3 or 4 years without becoming depressed, i’d say those are highly- gifted individuals, uncommon in every degree, and exceptional. That is without getting into why they don’t become depressed : deep virtue is one possibility ( the best ) deep cowardice and cooperation with your captors to the point of helping the latter dispose of your very relatives is another possibility ( a horrendous one.)
    In today’s psychiatry, unless you have a huge bundle of money, there’s not much talk-therapy, which is the real – the royal road to recovery. Medication is the therapy of the day. Pharmaceutical companies are being multiplied just on the money made on anti-depressants. They are being consumed more readily and appetizingly than chocolate. The hierarchy in psychiatry do have deep thoughts, and valuable contributions, but those are in the style of papal encyclicals. Very nice to read ( if you can understand all the technical jargon ) but highly impractical and put to the real test and extremely angelic.
    The real crazy people are those that caused the present depression in thsi country ( the financial one ) I saw it declared an official depression on an article i read yesterday by Mr. Bob Burnett. The 3rd depression this country has ever faced. One in the 19th Century, the 1929 crash, and our present one ( read the article, it’s called ” No Depression in Heaven ” ). Those misers and thieves sitting high on Wall Street and making do-do on the average citizen in order to feed a voracious greed, those are our real ‘ psychological basketcases.’ But who’s gonna tell them ? And would they even listen ? Who would strap one of those to a straight-jacket. The psychiatric establishment serves them too.
    Insofar as a little girl, super-sensitive, rather thinking on spiritual matters than playing with her mates with plastic dolls, plastic mini-tea cups and plastic mini-plates in a make-believe world that ‘ i’m feeding Britney ‘; i praise the former and well – the latter are ‘ just regular girls.’ But the former is not far away from how St. Therese of Lisieux felt all her life and with all her being,
    going in her mid-teens to see the pope so she could enter a monastery early. She did. And she left us a wonderful, wonderful book called ” The Story of A Soul “, which, the first time i read it – more bthan 20 years ago -i fell in love with, but found a little simple, a little childish. I’ve reread it again several times, and have found, within that ‘ simplicity ‘ a depth few other Saints have achieved. St. Therese died in her early 20’s from tuberculosis, all this in the 20th century. She’s been declared not only Saint, but Doctor of the Church. So i would respect and promote the little girl with the sensitive soul and leave her little friends alone to play mommy with their barbie-style dolls.
    Returning to psychiatry, and that you can tell the fruit from the tree, there was a late psychiatrist i respected much ( for i am an avid reader ) and if i’m not mistaken – which i confess i could well be – he had had certain concentration camp experiences. I’m talking about Bruno Bettelheim. I especially liked his take on the significance and value of ‘ Fairy Tales.’ He was an accomplished and respected member of the psychiatric establishment. In the end, he couldn’t put up with it anymore ( what the ” it ” was, i don’t know.)
    He commited suicide.
    So i would advice all these psychiatric sages with their pompous and undeniable and irreversible ‘ pronouncements’ and definitions to be a bit more humble. To look at the REALITY of mental illness in the nation, and write a lot less manuals, and get their hands dirty a little…and by the way, i would add, to lower their fees so common folk can make good use of them. They are not Gods.
    ” If you want to know if the tree is good, examine the fruit.” JESUS.

  • KKelley

    Joe Gonzalez, to you sir, I say amen……amen………amen. It is a shame that more children and people do not have a contemplative soul.

  • KKelley

    Oops I meant adults, not people

  • JimS

    This blog and Theresa’s comments as well as those written by others above, really struck a bone. I agree that probably a good portion of people taking anti-depressants, don’t need to. It might be the “in” thing to do and talk about, while gaining sympathy from others or using it to explain why they are acting the way that they do.
    I personally suffer from rapic cycling bi-polar, severe anxiety disorder, and ADHD. Without the meds I take and the therapy I receive, I would not be able to function. In my case I was in my early 40s seeing a psychiatrist that didn’t diagnose my illness appropriately and proceeded to treat me with more and more anti-depressants to lift me up. She was a pill pusher with a stand in line approach like going to the bakery. Her ineptness and overly dosing me with the meds she did, triggered my bi-polar and anxiety. I have tried many combinations of anti-depressants and mood disorder medication with my new and deeply involved psychiatrist, and though I still experience mania and depression, at least I know that when I am feeling the symptoms coming on and recognize that I am cycling, I know that she, along with my therapist, are only a phone call away. And they care. I truly believe that medication is handed out too freely thus driving up med costs to the people like me that without all the meds I take, would be a quivering Jell-O mold.
    I anticipate everytime that Beyond Blue pops up in my email, with great appetitie and savor the information, and am able to relate to what others experience. I often as God, why me? But it must all be a part of his plan for me, and that I am learning how to handle it, and have discovered the spiritual depth I was lacking for so many, many years. Without God in my life, I don’t know how much more I can take from all of this pain and suffering.
    I relish hearing from the blog and reader comments for any information I can absorb to make my life richer. Thank you.

  • Alice

    Another interesting book on this subject, which really spoke to me about the spiritual aspect of depression and what it might mean for people of faith, who are also psychologically oriented and deeply feeling is Kathleen Norris’s book, “Acedia and Me”. This book spoke to my condition as few others have.

  • Sue

    Wow. Just wow. Lots for me to think about. It was just about one year ago, that I realized I feel things more sensitively, more empathetically than so many others. I am 50, and it took this long in my life to see this could be why I have been depressed on and off for 34 years. Now I must look at it again. Maybe I feel more empathetically, because I am depressed. I must figure this out because my teen daughter has been ‘diagnosed’ with depression, and I have watched her deepness, sensitivity and empathy grow for a few years. Like I said, lots to think about. Re-think about. My daughter has her 2nd counseling appt coming up, so that is good.

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