The Evolutionary Origins of Depression

Psychologists Paul W. Andrews and J. Anderson Thompson, Jr. argue that depression may be an evolutionary advantage developed early in human history. What could be good about depression?

Depressed people often think intensely about their problems. These thoughts are called ruminations; they are persistent and depressed people have difficulty thinking about anything else. Numerous studies have also shown that this thinking style is often highly analytical. They dwell on a complex problem, breaking it down into smaller components, which are considered one at a time.

This analytical style of thought, of course, can be very productive. Each component is not as difficult, so the problem becomes more tractable. Indeed, when you are faced with a difficult problem, such as a math problem, feeling depressed is often a useful response that may help you analyze and solve it. For instance, in some of our research, we have found evidence that people who get more depressed while they are working on complex problems in an intelligence test tend to score higher on the test.


Link via Instapundit

Photo credit: Guillermo Perales Gonzalez

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Oh boy, another fine theory that cannot be proven to be true even 25% of the time, much less be proven to be an axiom.

When will those outside of that silly religion call psychology learn that it is simply a very lose form of belief, with not one single shred of scietific evidence to back up even a single one their theories?

As with most standard religion, some phsychologists actually believe they are there to make lives better, but have not one standard way of doing that.
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I'm not buying it. I've had depression for many years, and I've tried reading literature written by "experts" who have never experienced. much less overcome, depression like I have. How do I know this? They could never have completed the coursework to get their degrees if they had to live with it. I don't "ruminate" on problems until I find a solution. I'm depressed because there are no solutions.
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As a person who has gone through Major Depression, I agree with the article.

I think we really misunderstand depression. I experienced nearly 10 years of it (5 years in the middle being the most intense).

For the first half, I treated it as a meaningless chemical imbalance. I ignored it, I distracted it, it got worse, I medicated it. I nearly died.

For the second half, I treated it as a meaningful signal that my life had legitimate issues that needed solving. I spent a couple years in intense introspection, and deconstruction.

I addressed many, many issues. I no longer have depression. In spite of a childhood of extreme abuse, neglect, and dysfunction, I now am a fully-function adult with healthy relationships. I am not medicated, and I haven't had a single session of therapy.

Granted it was a rough few years... but at least I got to the bottom of my issues.
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I don't buy it. There's a huge difference between being "analytical" and being "depressed." Many studies have revealed two key features of depression: 1. Cognitive distortions that can severely impair one's ability to think rationally, and 2. A pervasive sense of hopelessness about solving one's problems. Granted, there are many levels of depression, but I can't see how any of them could make someone a "better" problem solver!
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