Is depression really an illness?

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    It is not.

    I have always had a somewhat natural tendency to be sad, since my teenage years.

    While I used to appear happy to the outside world, making jokes and smiling, many times, deep inside, I was sad. At home, alone, the mask would fall.

    I never considered this to be depression, honestly. As a teenager, I thought I was just sad because of two reasons: the relationship with my dad and relationships with girls, or the lack thereof. Which was true, to an extent.

    In fact, while I was often sad, I looked upon people who were clinically depressed as somewhat weak of will.

    I always considered people who needed to take medication for depression as lacking willpower, as weak people who just couldn’t get over simple adversities in life. Clinically diagnosed depression sounded like a lame excuse, it just sounded like giving up, a convenient way of just not fighting back when life punches you in the face.

    So I looked upon these people as weak of will.

    My life, for several reasons I am not willing to disclose now unless anonymously, has not turned out how I hoped it would, when I was a teenager.

    I am missing what I consider to be the most important thing in a person’s life, at least for me.

    Having difficulty dealing with this since I, at the moment, can’t solve this, a few years ago I became very, very, very depressed.

    To a point where my body started showing signs of all this sadness, though, at the moment, I was not aware that this deep melancholy was the culprit of my physical illness.

    I couldn’t sleep right, I was always extremely tired even though I didn’t to any sports or outside activities and worked at a desk job. Huge lethargy. But the worst was when my body started to ache. My muscles were always sore, but worst, most of my joints hurt tremendously, to the point where just going up stairs was a chore. At 34 years old I thought I had severe arthritis or rheumatism. I couldn’t even pick up my skinny 3 year old daughter. Imagining how I would be at 40 would make me even more depressed. My joints hurt so much I imagined being in a wheelchair at 50 or maybe even 45 years old. This only aggravated my state of mind, inadvertently making the problem worse. Went to the doctor, he said my joints were fine… I couldn’t figure out what was happening.

    There were also a few more physical symptoms which, again, I am not willing to disclose at this time, unless anonymously.

    Going back in time, I was always a somewhat closed person. Kept my problems to myself.

    So this one day, when I was 34, I opened myself to a person. Not face to face, but online. Maybe because of this reason, maybe because I wasn’t facing her, I just put everything out… told her all my problems. And she listened and became supportive of me.

    After a week maybe, my body felt better and I got back to lifting weights.

    Then I felt a whole lot better.

    All was mental. All the symptoms, which were real, were the body manifestation of a mental state, call it disease if you want.

    I couldn’t believe it… but having gone through this process, I could now see how powerful the mind is. Had someone told me what I experienced, I would’t believe it. Yet, I experienced myself. I was a believer now.

    This person left my (virtual) life a little afterwards and I came back to my normal life.

    But the problems were still there. Some perhaps worse.

    Last year, I started feeling itchy.

    All over.

    More and more and more, as days went by.

    Up to a point where the skin would start to break from all the scratching. On several places.

    So I went to the doctor, thinking I had contracted a virus or something.

    He diagnosed me with urticaria. Prescribed anti-histamines and gave me a shot.

    A few days later, I came back. It was worse, I had more skin breaks because the itch was worse and I was constantly scratching myself.

    More medication.

    A few days later, again to the doctor. I was starting to feel desperate, I couldn’t stop scratching and already had wounds… not just skin breaks, but wounds. Even in private places.

    The doctor was baffled… he did not understand why I wasn’t feeling better, given the medication I had already taken twice.

    He ordered some exams. As I was waiting in the corridor for these, a friend who works at the hospital asked me what I was doing there and I told her. She told me to ask the doctor if that couldn’t be psychosomatic.

    When I got back to the doctor’s office, he looked at the exams and said he could just not understand what was going on with me, all my exams were fine.

    I asked him about the possibility of it being psychosomatic. He asked me a few questions (how was my life, if I felt bad or sad about something, stress, etc) and then said it was the most likely explanation. Prescribed xanax and valium.

    The next day I was already feeling a little better.

    After a few days, no more hitch…

    A psychosomatic disease is when the mind is hurting so much that the body shows it. You have actual physical, bodily symptoms of a mental disorder.

    I had felt it for a second time, now with very different symptoms.

    So as you can imagine, my previous opinion on depression has now changed considerably.

    And I would like to add something…. the mentally strongest person I have ever met in my 38 years of existence on this planet…. is clinically depressed.

    I wished I had 10% if this person’s willpower.

    So no, people with depression, at least some of them, are far from being weak-willed or just loony.

    Quite the contrary, in fact…

    Hope this helps.

    Depression as a made up illness. Yes it is a made up illness, in the deluded minds of fools and those with the more narcissistic personality traits or mental health conditions. This is the held by the idiotic, the narcissistic and those without compassion extending beyond their own nose.

    It can be proven to exist with more reliability than the flaccid and pathetic words of those who claim it does not can be verified. Remember the Dunning-Kruger effect, this means such idiots do not know they are stupid and believe the crap they say.

    The most frequent denier of mental illness and depression in particular is narcissists. They are attracted to the vulnerable like moths to a flame with the sole purpose of causing abuse and harm to derive narcissistic supply. Putting down, gas lighting (Saying you are crazy) and then saying nothing is wrong the next are all calling cards of the narcissist. However, fear not for they are among the most pathetic and empty people you could find. This is why they need to derive narcissistic supply from seeking to make themselves feel more powerful by disparaging and undermining others.

    If a narcissist were to identify someone had a specific condition, their go to card of choice to play would be to gaslight the condition and seek to undermine and cause them to abandon the belief in it as this would cause maximum damage. Conversely, if someone didn’t believe they had a mental illness, the very same narcissistic would gaslight trying to make them think they had one. If they did have one, they would seek to convince them of a different one, sowing seeds of confusion which can be celebrated if they grow into bigger issues.

    The idiots denial of mental health and depression is far more simple to expose. They are motivated by a lack of ability to understand complexity, and thus simplify to the point of dismissing what they do not understand as not real, it is easier this way for them. So they often come to the conclusion it is not real. They do not notice that in order for someone to believe that something is real, if it is not, would require that person be experiencing delusions. Ask them if they believe delusions exist in the mind of the person reporting them. If they reply they do not exist either, you will see their level of logic and how they do not take their faults any further than their front gardens. In this case on one hand we should forgive them, for they know not what they do. On the other hand their harmful idiocy should be exposed and derided, to protect those who are vulnerable.

    As depression is such a serious condition that have been repeatedly demonstrated by both science and its opposite approach spirituality for thousands of years with many systems addressing the issue around the world across cultures. Going against this is the hallmark of either an idiot or a maliciously motivated person also suffering from a form of mental illness, ironically. That is the darkly humorous irony. Those who take such a of mental illness often suffer from the more malignant forms themselves. I believe they are jealous of the depressed person. The depressed person suffers within themselves for many reasons, whereas the more malignant types cause others to suffer to try to hide the emptiness inside. Narcissists seek attention and supply. Someone with genuine depression is treated with compassion and empathy by well adjusted people. This irks the narcissist as such attention should be focused on them.

    Telling someone that nothing is wrong when they are clearly suffering is the most simplistic way to do this. More advanced and intellectual narcissists are usually more clever and less direct in approach so do not be put off by such low level fools or narcissists, their approach reveals their level of awareness. As Einstein stated, for some the brain is a waste when merely the brain stem is sufficient enough. Higher thought is not the forte of those who take such a dismissive position.

    They are the metaphorical pigeon that you cannot play chess with, for it is a pigeon and will just defecate all over the board and knock the pieces over, and then strut about like they have won, chest puffed out.

    Depression does end the worlds of many people who suffer it due to the high suicide rates experienced by those in that state. Snap out of it and the like are the remarks of ignorant morons. Sorry to be blunt but people with depression need to understand this and not to listen to imbeciles or those meaning to worsen their depression and to stay away from the narcissists as they are particularly vulnerable to them in that state.

    Depression also includes bipolar depression. Which involves swinging between high and low mood. So is the low mood depression is made up, or the high mood made up? Or both. By the same logic schizophrenia is just made up in the mind of the person who thinks they hear voices.

    These type of are the same as the racist and sexist held by such groups. They are discriminatory, dismissive and reveal deep deficit in those who make such claims. As such, I would state that depression is actually more real than such people who deny it exists, on the account that such people likely possess a fake self, or false model of reality and are themselves delusional whereas depression has been proved by repeated scientific rigor.

    Belief that depression is fully made up also requires the belief, at least on some level of a grand conspiracy among all those who have experienced it, to describe it in similar terms so as to create the illusion that it does exist if it does not without letting the game up. So quite the claim from any who would state Yes to it being made up.

    Unless of course we define made up as meaning “made up of parts” as a house is made up in that sense. It is made up of parts. So in this case, depression is made up. It is made up from neurological and psychological changes that interfere with normal functioning, creating a dysfunctional state that causes suffering that is made up of different components, for example low energy, apathy, hopelessness, despair etc. So yes, if using that interpretation of the term “made up” then indeed it is if we use the term this way.

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    Edit: My answer, as you can see below, was originally in response to asking if depression was “proven.” This question takes a much more insightful look at the idea. I’ll leave my original answer below this new one.

    So to add to this “new” question with which it was merged, it’s true based on various studies that depressed people see the world more realistically! But while that is true, it may not be a healthy outlook to have. Optimism is often a necessary motivator, a “delusion” if you will, ignoring, in part, the negative outlook in order to keep moving forward. It is biologically imperative. However, most people aren’t “eternal optimists” even if you may see it that way.

    Depression is not just cynicism or pessimism as (it sounds like) you seem to being it as. It’s true, in my experience, that only other depressed people “get it” when it comes to depression and most other people don’t even want to hear about it because it makes them miserable when they don’t have to or need to be. And I “get that” too! Not wanting to feel miserable doesn’t mean they don’t recognize the negative aspects of reality. They may just not dwell on it as we do. And a good friend should be willing to listen in particularly tough times, just not all the time.

    Depression is an illness because wanting to die is not healthy. Putting thought into ending one’s life is not healthy. Losing interest in everything you used to enjoy is not healthy. Not being able to get out of bed or shower or function is not healthy.

    If you are seeing (and experiencing) depression as just being appropriately and realistically cynical in a world of “happy” people, then perhaps you don’t have depression.


    My first inclination is to be offended by this question. But I’d hate to feel discouraged from asking something about which I was sincerely ignorant.

    Yes, depression is an established illness. I suffer from dysthymia, a less severe, but constant form of depression. I first told my parents I wanted to die at age 10. Obviously it had to reach that point over time. I’m 33 now and I’ve never stopped wanting desperately to die. Death is the greatest scenario I can imagine. I’m told this “personality trait” will never dissipate. You’d probably see this as “wrong” and “broken” and I’d agree (although others would not). It’s not normal to hate being alive. Not because of miserable life circumstances or the daily grind, but in spite of all that. A lingering, inexplicable misery made all the worse when you can’t point to the cause to fix the problem. Also, it is often debilitating.

    I will assume that by “proven” you mean do we know that depression isn’t just “being really sad” or being faked entirely? There will always be people who fake illnesses from depression to cancer to get attention and sympathy. But this does not invalidate the illnesses themselves. They exist in spite of your acknowledgement of them. Validation comes from the science.

    The other thing is that a lot of people co-opt the term “depression” to mean just being sad. It’s the same way that people co-opt “Celiac’s disease” for the BS trend of purported gluten intolerance; or the term “OCD” to mean a neurotic pet peeve. Just like these real conditions, depression isn’t seen as a real illness because it is used so broadly to the point of insignificance. Depression is more than just being sad. It involves a disappearance of interest in anything you used to enjoy. It makes it difficult for you to be around other people and for them to be around YOU. You might not function, shower, get dressed, or get out of bed entirely.

    As mentioned in another response, the DSM-V and the ICD-10 recognize depression in various forms as a mental illness. I don’t need to repeat them all. Lists of symptoms mark each disorder with some overlap just like any mental illness or physical illness. And the symptoms are only broad strokes of the illness, with some uniqueness and nuance to each individual based on their particular brain chemistry and life experiences. Medication can help re-balance the brain chemistry sometimes. And, with therapy, can attempt to condition the brain to new ways of thinking or coping mechanisms when faced with a depressive episode.

    It’s interesting how people see, say, bipolar disorder as “real,” but depression gives them pause. Part of being bipolar is depression. It is one of the poles. Mania is seen as out of control behavior (and it is!), yet depression is not. People honestly wonder why people keep “making excuses” for not getting up and going, shaking it off, pulling yourself together. But no one looks at schizophrenia is “quirky” behavior.

    Personally, I’m hopeless that anyone can help me. 20+ years of therapy and dozens of medications have done nothing to change my state of mind and I’m told they can’t. I’m stuck hating every minute I’m alive. No one would want to be this way and you’d have to try really hard to “fake it.”

    Yes, depression is a real illness that can have a different impact on each person from a child to an adult. It is from a lack of seratonin in the brain which controls positive/ happy thoughts. Mine brought me to the point of suicidal thoughts and plans. So you should see your doctor for help as soon as possible. This illness takes time to bring under control through medication but once you do, you will be able to continue to move forward. Along with medication I do see a counselor every other week. During this difficult time I journaled alot to get out my good, bad, weird and scary thoughts out of my head. Also I tried to fill my mind with positive thoughts like reading my Bible, read an inspiring book, or playing the piano or simply walking. Whatever your choices are. Don’t be around downer people be around positive people. Don’t give yourself time to sit idle and let your thoughts wonder you keep them under control. Remember you won’t always feel this way. If you want to cry…..go off and do it alone, wash your face and on you go. If you want to scream….go to your bedroom shut the door scream into your pillow, and go on with the day. Another thing was eating. If you don’t eat, you need to and if you do eat just make it simple. No processed foods or fast foods. Me when I’m hungry I want to eat now, so I do simple and don’t want to have to think about cooking anymore than I have to. Unfortunately there is still a stigma about mental health that makes other people feel uncomfortable and makes us feel ashamed. But if we broke our leg or found out we had cancer wouldn’t we go to the doctor for help? Why do we feel ashamed about this? I turned 50 last year and a week later had a stroke at work. That 5 minutes changed my life, my brain and who I am……and I’ve learned that each moment is a gift, never waste time on people who don’t love you, live in the moment, to look into the eyes of the people I love and tell them that, but most of all to “be real.”I don’t need confirmation of success from people, which I used to think was important for acceptance, now I think the most important thing in this life is how much we love each other. No greater love was ever shown than when Jesus died on the cross because He loved us. He’s who I need my approval from.I wish you all the best on your journey and pray you will discover a stronger, confident, positive human being who can love herself for who she is becoming each day.


    I believe depression is an illness, but I also think it’s something that can be possibly recovered from. During my years I’ve had down times all the way up to where I was in physical pain and waiting for surgery. Over ten years, I’ve been on a slew of these anti-depressants and these include Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Luvox, Trazodone, Cymbalta, Effexor, Amitryptiline, Anafranil, Desipramine and Nortriptyline. I’ve been on pretty much all of them and none of them made any change other than throwing more money away. I don’t mean to be offensive, but I find these a true waste.

    My partner is currently on Lexapro and has been on it for over a year and I see absolutely no signs that she’ll ever improve on that medication. She’ll spend days and even weeks in bed just getting up to make food, use the bathroom and run a quick errand. Is she depressed? Without a doubt, but I think these medications are not helping at all. There are may days where she’s unwell and unable to cope with a lot of things and it tears me apart to see this on a daily basis. So it’s definately real, I just wonder if it’s the medications they give that keeps them that way.

    Maybe I’m lucky, because I got over my ‘depression’ after having surgery and then learned the value of getting out and exercising. Again, I’m not trying to diminish what others feel and it’s terrible to go for such prolonged periods of time like this. None of the medications worked for me and I don’t see it working for my partner who’s been diagnosed as clinically depressed with major anxiety issues. I have known other friends on Lexapro who claimed it was working and also stopped taking it or at the very least began cutting their daily dose down. They eventually got off of it and struggled to deal with their day to day problems which honestly, was a hell of a lot more than mine since one was also in transition being a transgender female and still working at the same place during her transition. Not only that, while she was off the medication she did something quite amazing (N.J. transgender woman wins battle with insurance company to have mammogram covered).

    Depression is a lot different than simply just being down for a while. I understand that, really I do. I just doubt the efficacy of the medications that they dole out hand over fist. I don’t doubt the illness. It can be debilitating and I feel absolutely powerless so long as my partner keeps taking her medication claiming it’s working when it’s quite obvious it isn’t. I really feel for those people suffering from depression and I have been there myself, but perhaps to a much lesser degree. Still it doesn’t mean I can’t understand the problem.

    I don’t think simply because you have an illness means you should accept it. I have Crohn’s disease which is a very medication resistant strain and I know it’s not something I can escape from, but I’ve not let it take control of my life.

    I really wish everyone suffering from depression all the best in the world 🙂

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    Let me answer this as someone who has been up and down, through the deepest, darkest hole of depression and back more than once.

    I can sympathize with you. I am rather bewildered by the “life is full of rainbows” crowd, and I get along better with those who have at least at some point in their lives been depressed. But I am not currently depressed, and I can say without equivocation that “not depressed” is a better state than “depressed.”

    It’s sometimes difficult to tease out reasonable thought from depression-induced rumination. The key is usually not the particular thoughts themselves, but the context and mood that accompanies them.

    Here are some beliefs I have:

    • Life is meaningless (aside from the meaning we give it)
    • Life is full of suffering
    • People are frequently selfish
    • I will probably never be rich and/or famous
    • In fact, I’m pretty ordinary

    When I’m depressed, I’m obsessed with these (an similar) facts, and they bring me down. They make me want to give up. They make me dislike other people, or worry that they dislike me.

    When I’m not depressed, they either don’t matter, or they’re even freeing: for instance, if everyone suffers, then I haven’t been singled out for it, and it actually helps me understand others; if I’ll never be rich and famous, I can cross that off my list of unrealistic goals, and focus on what is within my reach; if life is meaningless, then I don’t have to waste any time on some exhausting crusade to find “the” meaning.

    Alleviating your depression will not turn you into an idiot, or completely erase the thoughts you had while depressed. It will, however, make life more bearable. I can’t remember who said this (but it was someone who had been depressed for a long time) and I’m paraphrasing (if someone knows the actual quote and source, please edit): to live life vitality (as opposed to cynically or detachedly) isn’t necessarily easier – it’s just better. I have found this to be true.

    I’ll say this, too. I didn’t notice it as much the first time I was depressed, but I now notice it a lot. Depression is physical. It depletes all of your energy. When depressed, I always feel like I’m looking at the world through eyes that can’t fully open. I feel like I have the flu, but with no fever. I can’t focus. And everything appears negative.

    Everything is not negative. Lots of things are, but not everything. If all you can focus on is the negative, then something is wrong. You are not okay. You need help.

    You do not need to be happy all the time. That is likewise unrealistic. But it is possible to not be unhappy all the time.

    Perhaps you are confusing depression with something else. Clinical depression is a lot more that being upset or feeling sad. Clinical depression takes over your whole life, coloring everything you do. It is pervasive and unrelenting. It keeps you from enjoying your life, from seeking the comforts of companionship. It is like a darkness that permeates all areas of your life. You most likely are calling people “depressed” who are eccentric or just unhappy. There is a big difference.

    Yes, depression is an illness. There are treatments available, but you must seek them out. I have been depressed most of my life and found relief in TMS. It was a tremendous commitment of time (45 minutes a day, five days a week for six weeks). Before I had finished two weeks of treatment, I could already see a difference in my outlook. I realized then, how miserable I had been. It changed my life. Yes, I am sometimes still sad (My husband passed away last year from pancreatic cancer) and I sometimes feel upset (I found out that he had been cheating). But, these things do not take over my life any more.

    So, yes, Depression is a real illness, a whole lot more than being sad or upset.


    Depression is a chronic illness that do not have a cure.

    But can be treated and controlled.

    Depression is a weakness in some glands of your brain and the limbic system.

    They are linked with your emotions and affect you ability to feel good and energy.

    I wold like to say that people who born without the predisposition will never get Depression, but is possible to weaken you body with an strong inflammation that affect your limbic system or cancer.

    Depression comes with a light delusional state that usually comes with fear of being socially reject, send to a mental institution, abandoned by the loved ones and that depression will disappear reaching a goal, like a dream job and launch a book. If a people with depression feel to be crazy can have sure, because believe in those kind of thing is madness.

    Everybody who fight for a goal in the hope to magically vanish the depression jut end guilt for trowing so much time and effort in a meaningless pursuit.

    Exercises and eating properly can weak a lot the symptoms, also with the right medication can totally disappear.

    Also stay away from anything who trigger the depression.

    Many people overcome depression living in a controlled environment without nothing to trigger.

    Also you can train your mind to not care and have happy thoughts.

    Exercises, heath food, environment without triggers, train your mind and medicines.

    That weak the symptoms and whit a lot of people end for good.

    Some people dont end, but those are the ones who need the most.

    But take care, because can come back.

    This is an interesting question in that I wonder if your asking it because you or someone you know has depression and you think they ( or you)should be able to fix it.

    It is diagnosed as an illness when it’s a “major depressive” disorder and needs medication for treatment.

    I was hospitalized with depression twice in high school and struggled with depression for years until I finally took medication for it. I also have had therapy for a few years in a row and then again for a tune up.

    When your depression doesn’t go away and worsens over time it is an illness that can be treated with many things one of them being medication. People that go untreated can become suicidal. I believe that there is a true chemical imbalance in the brain that causes depression. There are things that can be done to lessen the effects of it, like diet and exercise, however if this doesn’t work I recommend seeing a mental health professional for evaluation.

    What happens in the mind is just as valid as what happens in the body. Another words when someone is diagnosed with diabetes and prescribed medication, they would be foolish to not take the medication. The same holds true for depression. If it worsens over time there may be more there then just the average blues and medication and/or cognitive behavioral therapy will definitely help.

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    The problem is that when people think of “illnesses”, they think of physical issues, things that damage your body. To a person who has never experienced a mental illness, it’s hard to believe that problems with your mind are real.

    I can assure you, mental illness is very real indeed. It feels like your mind is disobeying you. The illness tears you apart from the inside out. You don’t understand what is happening, or why. You’re confused, frustrated, and alone. It seems like nobody can help you.

    Just because an illness is unseen doesn’t make it any less real. You shouldn’t disqualify it from being an illness just because it wasn’t caused by a virus. Depression is still very real and palpable.

    You generally don’t have a disorder unless you have severe distress. It sounds like you are just a pessimistic person, not severely depressed. That is perfectly fine. You’re allowed to choose your attitude towards life. But there are people out there suffering from severe depression, in a pain you can’t even imagine, and to equate your attitude problem with their pain is unfair.

    When I talk to my patients, I am careful in defining the terms we use right away. Otherwise, we won’t be talking on the same wavelength.

    Technically depression is a mood state. It is not a diagnosis.

    To figure out how to treat it, you need to figure out what the underlying diagnosis or illness is.

    For example, hypothyroidism is a very common cause of a depressive mood state. The treatment is thyroid replacement therapy.

    I also have patients who have been doing very well their whole lives without any mood disorder whatsoever but all of the sudden suffer a stroke at the age of 67 years old or 71 years old, and within 2–4 weeks, they plunge into a deep, deep depression.

    Finally one debate I have with my patients all the time is do they have major depressive disorder (clinical depression or unipolar depression) or do they have bipolar depression? The treatment is different.

    Therefore depression is a mood state that signals that something is wrong with the body. And yes, the underlying condition that causes the depressive mood state is an illness.

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