April 01, 2014

It may strike us as a particularly modern malaise

What depressed the cavemen? It may strike us as a particularly modern malaise for a time-poor, fast-paced society but a new reappraisal of depression suggests it has always been around.

A leading psychiatrist says that depression is not a human defect at all, but a defence mechanism that in its mild and moderate forms can force a healthy reassessment of personal circumstances.

Dr Paul Keedwell, an expert on mood disorders at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, argues all people are vulnerable to depression in the face of stress to varying degrees, and always have been.

The fact it has survived so long - and not been eradicated by evolution - indicates it has helped the human race become stronger.


FAMOUS DEPRESSIVES
Clockwise from top left: Robbie Williams, Sir Elton John, Winston Churchill and Stephen Fry
Robbie Williams, Sir Elton John, Winston Churchill and Stephen Fry (pictured)
Writers Tennessee Williams, Sylvia Plath, Evelyn Waugh and Ernest Hemingway
Artists Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas, William Blake
Performers Caroline Ahern, Ewan McGregor, Morrissey
"There are benefits and that's why it has persisted. It's a tough message to hear while you are in depression but I think that there's a life afterwards," he says.

"I have received e-mails from ex-sufferers saying in retrospect it probably did help them because they changed direction, a new career for example, and as a result they're more content day-to-day than before the depression." geijlsngi15

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