Charting the Depths

Reflections on the science of depression.

Why Do Depressed People Lie in Bed?

A perfectly able-bodied person can't bring him or herself to rise out of bed. How does this happen? Read More

great post!

In an earlier post you talked about using thoughts to come out of depression. Thoughts can also become a reinforcer that the goals are indeed unreachable and can even make far fetched connections, such as between one failure and a potential new one in the future, soon bringing people to thinking that they are hopelessly incapable of reaching any goals...

I agree

I think depression is the result of going after goals and repeatedly failing and/or determining in your head that you will fail at every goal you set. So, for example, the last few days I was depressed about marriage becuase I kept seeing how the divorce laws were so against men and how high the overall risk was. Thus, there is a dissonance between a goal (marriage) and my mind saying that goal is unrealistic based on the facts.

naps

In very low moods I have been able to take naps even when not particularly tired just to escape consciousness and my own miserable thoughts. I liken it to committing a tiny suicide.

Tiny Suicide

matt wrote:
In very low moods I have been able to take naps even when not particularly tired just to escape consciousness and my own miserable thoughts. I liken it to committing a tiny suicide.

Oh yes, this one hit me - the need to sleep and escape was what almost caused an accidental overdose in my case - I figured out what I was thinking before I did it - thank goodness, although I still battle depression everyday, currently going through a cancer scare and being hit with "but I want to live".

I like the theory.

This resonates so well with

This resonates so well with me... because sleeping/dreaming suspends you from your conscious emotional state. It's almost like dying into a temporarily new, temporarily unaffected personality. The only problem is, IMHO, that the sleep never lasts long enough. I keep hoping that when I wake up, I'll feel better, and I never do... maybe I should lower my expectations :)

Escaping consciousness, tiny suicide

I couldn't have said it better myself.

"committing a tiny suicide"..

"committing a tiny suicide".. i couldn't have said it better or capture exactly what lying lead-like in bed is to me..wishing never having to wake up or get up again.

I have not quoted that last

I have not quoted that last statement! I see that we are at least two anonymous participants. I ask that the editors dishes it up.

The theme is important and there is help for those who suffer. It is our responsibility to be alert and detect signals from our fellow man.

I have not quoted that last

I have not quoted that last statement! I see that we are at least two anonymous participants. I ask that the editors dishes it up.

The theme is important and there is help for those who suffer. It is our responsibility to be alert and detect signals from our fellow man.

Depression + Bed = Return to the womb like behaviour

Hmmm, I find this very interesting, I have personal (unfortunate) experience of this strong desire to 'hide from life', and I am a very driven type A personality, so it is very out of character for me. That makes a lot of sense, I can see how when its 'all got too much' (nothing I did was working towards my goals) I retreated to my bed. I have heard how this is like a small child trying to return to the safety of its mothers womb, and it makes perfect sense.

However, the less you do, the less you want to do, so it is important to make yourself do say three small things a day, (one being go outside, even for ten minutes with a cup of tea), as this stops you feeling like a total ho-bo!

I found this site useful - http://www.curedepressionwithoutmedication.com, especially regards treating it yourself naturally, without relying on anti-depressants.

That is definitely something to think about, too MUCH motivation in the face of adversity rather than the opposite you get accused of when in that unpleasant state. Hmmm... very interesting article, thanks!

Bed + Depression = Return to the womb

That makes a lot of sense, I can see how when its 'all got too much' (nothing I did was working towards my goals) I retreated to my bed. I have heard how this is like a small child trying to return to the safety of its mothers womb, and it makes perfect sense.

However, the less you do, the less you want to do, so it is important to make yourself do say three small things a day, (one being go outside, even for ten minutes with a cup of tea), as this stops you feeling like a total ho-bo!

I found this site useful - http://www.curedepressionwithoutmedication.com, especially regards treating it yourself naturally, without relying on anti-depressants.

That is definitely something to think about, too MUCH motivation in the face of adversity rather than the opposite you get accused of when in that unpleasant state. Hmmm... very interesting article, thanks!

Is it convalescence from an emotional blow?

I agree with you Jonathan. A hundred years ago, Freud observed that his depressed patients were engaging in some sort of "inner labor" that involved the systematic severing of an attachment to something that had been lost - a ruined relationship, an unattainable goal or an expectation that had been dashed.

Athina Markou and I recently published a comprehensive re-analysis of the biomedical literature suggesting that this "psychological remodeling job" is accompanied by actual structural neural remodeling in the brain. We review evidence that this process is mechanistically similar to an injury repair response.

Data suggests that the behavioral neurobiology of depression is quite similar to convalescence after a physical injury. Hence the not getting out of bed - depressed people may be recuperating from an emotionally traumatic brain microinjury. In fact, data is starting to roll in that this microinjury can be detected in depressed people using a brain imaging technique called Diffusion Tensor Imaging - a technique that was developed to detect subtle brain injury in concussion that is not detectable by conventional imaging.

We argue that during a depressive episode, the person is hypersensitive to psychological pain via a similar mechanism that makes people hypersensitive to physical pain in the region of a physical injury during healing.

well..

..although I admit I am somewhat of a perfectionist these days and have problems getting interested in anything I don't know in advance I can and WILL do well.... that is mostly because my life has consisted of a loooong line of attempts that have failed over and over again.. and usually because of some external uncontrollable factor.. that has come along at JUST the wrong time.. call it bad luck.. bad karma.. I dunno but everything went to shit when I was about 4 years old.... and has never stopped going wrong..

Sure one could argue that because I am depressed I feel things heavier than most but people who know me and my background are quite shocked at how incredibly unlucky I and my family (which is now all dead) have been in life.. so its not something only I feel..

I've also been diagnosed with dysthymia by multiple doctors (that did not know about any previous diagnosis).. and it does fit so..

I echo: "great post". If you

I echo: "great post".

If you think about an overall conceptualisation of brain evolution, it is the successive development of layers functioning to itegrate the output of lower layers and feed back to fine-tune and reinforce them.
So there is no locus of control but a dynamic system; though if we were forced to point to the central feature it would have to be the lowest rather than the higher layers. These call the shots ultimately; the rest is superstructure. [See my lead paper for the Politics & Culture journal's symposium 'How is Culture Biological?']

I recall that depression in my youth was a result of a ridiculous crush that got totally out of hand. My brain was shutting down this hopeless trajectory so as in time to resume being real.

gloomy sunday

Im out of school on break now but when I was going I would have to poke and prod and scream at my self to get out of bed the process would take nearly 30min on a good day and sunday night was the worst the dread of school the next morning go to school with dread fear during the school day of the other hateful kids (i swear they were like little hitlers)
go home worn out and dreading the next morning this didnt really get THIS bad until winter started its probably a contributing factor to the morning fear i hate waking up to cold cloudyness.
-jehovahs girl

Depression is also an

Depression is also an immunological reaction, as a reaction to some form of inflammation. It is perfectly possible to induce a depression by giving TNF-alfa to people, as done in cancer treatment.
The theory mentioned here does not incorporate any biological explanation to the state where one put ones body in a resting state, but it is perfectly logic reaction to an inflammation state.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18504118
(Depression, comorbidities and the TNF-alpha system)

It is not very logic for a biological living body to induce a immunological reaction to not reaching goals.
Stresshormones do interact with gut microbes, and is interpreted as a signal to turn over to a patological state for some bugs. That might explain why stress, as in not reaching goals, may end up as a inflammatory respons - depression - and seeking the bed.

Might. We´ll find out.

Depression is spiritual issue

We are essentially spiritual beings on an earthly journey. When we believe that the converse we can easily lose the meaning and purpose of our lives. To surround himself with people who have the right attitude, it can be the right way.

Well you're right and wrong.

Well you're right and wrong. I'm depressed because I hang on too much to my failures though I've stopped pursuit. I can't get out of bed simply because the world is scary and the bed is safe.

This understanding of depression fits with dreams in depression perriod

This understanding of depression rings true given a recurring dream I had when very young and depressed through a hopeless, virulent crush on a girl at school.
The dream was of myself with a black dog, with which I leapt across a series of streams in the headmaster's garden in the school grounds.
They were infinitely deep, so that to fall in would mean death; and they got progressively ever wider, so that in the end I was faced with having to decide whether or not to stop jumping with the dog in tow to better ensure I could leap the stream and make the opposite bank.
Clearly, this dream related to my need to break the cognitive logjam into which I'd fallen: the black dog being the dark and dogged cognition that was the crush.

Depression due to overcommitment to failing goals

This is very, very interesting. I think you are on to something. My tendency toward depression morphed in to clinical depression when all the "things" I had been striving for had failed. Trying to meet the right man. Trying to succeed in my career. Trying to establish and keep my friendships. Now that I think about it, I was trying too hard to make these things happen. I wanted those things so badly, that failure was not an option. Was I too attached to having those things? But having a career, a mate, and meaningful friendships are not optional. We all need them for our health and well being.
Now, it's 5 years later, and I've given up trying so hard, or even trying at all. But the problem is that not trying, hasn't resulted in a new job or career, new friends, or a mate. Life is still in limbo. Is my fear of failure keeping me frozen?
If overcommitment to failing goals caused depression, than giving up those goals should reverse it. But it hasn't. Even though I am no longer desperately trying to make those thing happen, I still want them, and feel depressed about the fact that I don't have them.

Susan S, I recognise exactly

Susan S,

I recognise exactly what you've gone through and you've put it very well, you could be talking about my life. I don't know whether you've attempted or ever wanted to be a "high-flier" in a "male hierarchy". My experience has been that I think we're supposed to use our gifts - creativity, intelligence etc, work on them and get satisfaction from the achievements we make with them. Unfortunately we aren't always remunerated for that which is a cause of a low mood and the effects as explained in the article. I think you're absolutely right we are supposed to have friends and a mate too and it's such a cause of frustration when you can't have them. What can you do - plead with people? That would make them think you're crazy. Anyone who accepted you after that might be the type who enjoys domineering someone they consider lower-status.

I think there's something wrong with school, it seems to teach boys to hate girls. When I was at secondary school the girls were much better students than boys but the boys would act like the girls were idiots and when they excelled they were just cheating or the things they knew were without value. This means that when young women are ready to find a mate most of the young men they know are still very hostile to them. That seems to make no biological sense. Plenty do get into relationships but the man usually seems reluctant to think of her as an equal and the idea of having children would send them packing. The fact that most women are dealing with men like this explains why it's difficult to have good friendships with them.

I don't know, just some thoughts I've had. I can't help but maybe if we understand it better things might improve.

Jenny, I'm not sure if you

Jenny, I'm not sure if you noticed that the topic here is clinical depression, not "why the male sex is to blame for my shortcomings".
Personal suffering doesn't entail that there must be some other person or group fully responsible for your pain. Sometimes life just sucks and people are cut bad breaks (like getting hurt or getting sick), or run into bad influences. In the end though, you're the one in charge of your life.

"Schools teach boys to hate girls" is right up there with "everyone is out to get me". It is not an informative statement in any way, but more like a bid for victimhood. It can be either a delusion or just someone desperate to lash out. You're a girl and you didn't like the boys in your school and to this day seem to resent nearly all guys you've known, thus, taking it the "logical" conclusion of "us vs them". Too bad that it's still your own reaction to your own life and nothing more. And by the way, seems you didn't notice that the statement "schools teach boys to hate" strongly implicates more than just the male sex. "Teaching" has to be done by teachers, right?
And which sex dominates that field?

You seem confident in your generalizations against men even though your hurt and bitterness shine through pretty obvious (obvious in how judgment-clouding they are). We all have our own stories and our own responses to them. You think men are "too difficult to be friends with". Great. But I guess you haven't heard of the many women who mistrust other women and cite a preference for male friendships. You think men are frustrating to deal with in relationships. Talk to any number of same-sex female couples and see how much "improvement" there is. (Research their domestic violence rates if you really want a shake up.)
Boys are bullies? Right and girls are sugar and spice and everything nice...except for the bullying, feuding and backstabbing that's so legendary in our society there have been books published about it, and news stories showing when it gets out of hand.

I'm sorry you were hurt, but many of us have been. This article was ultimately supposed to be about trying to understand and move forward. It doesn't seem like you were interested in learning much from it. Your blame-gaming is crass. Funny thing is that the real opposite of hate is indifference. You're still preoccupied with men and you obviously yearn for their approval. You even said so.

You may wish that they were "better", but the only thing you can fix is yourself. Letting go of victimhood is a good place to start.

^Gotta make a correction.

^Gotta make a correction. "...the real opposite of LOVE is indifference".

Hi Susan. Doess this analysis of your quandary ring true?

Hi Susan

Do you not think that the issue is not so much aspiring to career, friends and mate per se -- though one way of looking at this is the the problem for women of trying to 'have it all' -- but that there is no ceiling to your aspiration; that is, it forever recedes into the distance?
Isn't an aspiration career-wise putting off finding 'the right one' until you've climbed as high as you can in what is really the male hierarchy, so that you can put yourself in the path of a high-status male who meets your expectations?
A part of the problem women face is that, unlike for men, their mate-value doesn't tend to rise with age as they gain status in the workplace. Status is male mate-value. Female mate-value is best summed up as 'fertility': in human terms, simply youth and beauty. The reality is that female mate-value declines from a young age, falling off a cliff after age 25 -- even without the physical impact of childbirth.
Consequently, women fail to realise that as they spend years trying to ascend a hierarchy (that is not their own natural sociality in any case) in order to to meet 'the right one', all of the potential 'right ones' are more interested in the women they once were -- younger ones.
What is more, high-status men often eschew women high-flyers because they instinctively realise that they would be more prone to betrayal through extra-pair sex (cuckolding), given that such women move in circles that contain other high-status -- or still higher-states -- men.
This is why female high-flyers are so often 'left high and dry'.
It is not for nothing that the leading researcher into women and work -- Catherine Hakim -- finds across Europe that only 10-15% of women want to work full-time and continuously like men; and of this already low proportion, only a quarter see themselves as careerists. That's less than 5%. 95% of women can't be wrong. They're following their deep instincts to first and foremost reproduce.

Not all the time!

This may be the case in many instances, but certainly not all the time. When I was first diagnosed with major depression, I went from 100 mph to 0 in less than a week. I was 17 and was very active in school activities and very goal oriented. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was going wrong with any of those activities and I was keeping my grades up. All of the sudden I became sluggish and before the end of the week I was laying in bed in the infirmary and physically could not get up. I had all kinds of tests done and I was told that nothing was wrong. I went on Paxil and voila! I was up and out of bed, doing everything I had been doing, within 3 weeks or so. When this happens to me now, I make sure I am getting optimal nutrients, eating well and getting enough sun before I begin a medication- but I didn't know any of that when I was 17, and Paxil really worked for me.
I am only one person of course, but several of my friends have had similar experiences.
This was NOT a case of me not meeting my goals or being disappointed in myself. This article was a frustrating read! There have been times in my life when I WAS frustrated by my lack of progress/etc. that yes, I have taken a "time out," and I just shut down for awhile. But there is a BIG, BIG difference between my two experiences.
The difference is incredibly important and the AWARENESS of it is imperative to helping all people with depression. Lumping it all together with a single cause is ridiculous and dangerous.

Depression

Reading all the comments, one thing hit me. The focus of those who are of have been depressed is so self! Been there too. Maybe if we get out of bed to do something loving for someone else, that would be a goal that would be fulfilling! It doesn't have to be major volunteer work, just a tiny action to brighten someone's day

bootstraps, much?

Oh the old chestnut about doing something for others.
Well, when someone is so depressed they find it hard to get out of bed, the likelihood is that they aren't really focusing on the self at all, rather more wishing they didn't exist. When enough recovery has been made to enter the world again, doing something for others is indeed a good step, but when you're at your lowest having this suggested is akin to the old *pull yourself up by the bootstraps* adage. Neither are effective. It's like telling someone who is bed-bound because of let's say pneumonia that going for a run will improve their levels of oxygen.

Going through one of my depressive moments right now

My opinion isn't that its a lack of motivation. All the motivation in the world can't correct a chemical imbalance. But in my opinion, it isn't that every depressed person faces a lack of motivation (speaking for myself at least), its that when I lay in bed and sleep all day its because that particular day looks grim and I am trying to hasten tomorrow hoping it will be better.

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Refreshing perspective on

Refreshing perspective on depression. My depression is always worse when my body is fighting inflammation of known or unknown origin. Fever of any sort makes it worse. Tummy trouble is in the loop as well.

It is hard to know which is the chicken or the egg though.

I am wondering whether the concepts of goals, motivation etc are mind constructs to make sense of our physical ailments?

Terrific minds working on this. Will be reading.

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Jonathan Rottenberg is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of South Florida, where he directs the Mood and Emotion Laboratory.

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