A Lecture on Depression

December 23rd, 2013

Until recently, I had no scientific information regarding depression. Only personal opinion and media influence had shaped my views on the subject.

I believe we are taught that depression is a question of constitution or mental fortitude. If one only had the motivation or the force of will, one could undo depression. After all, everyone becomes unhappy at some time or another, and really, what's the difference between that and depression?

This video lecture by Robert Sapolsky is an excellent first step to understanding what depression is and how it works. Sapolsky describes the psychological, chemical, and social implications in incredible detail, and debunks the pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps myth. He shows that depression is a real problem, and it's not something easily defeated.

America in particular has a culture of independence and self reliance, which only adds to the bootstraps concept. Additionally, depression exists outside of 'normal' diseases like influenza or ear infections. These ideas contribute to the sentiment that it is the fault of the depressed that they have ended up in a place outside of their control.

This video lecture has done more to inform my position on this topic than anything else, and hopefully, after learning more about depression we can be better equipped to deal with the problems it presents.