Some Depressed People Believe They Have the Right Idea

Some people think that this is the appropriate response to difficult times.

Posted Oct 03, 2019

We live in challenging times, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the hurt occurring almost everywhere. It’s enough to make some people depressed—and a few people think that this is the appropriate response.

“Depressive realism” is a theory arguing that people suffering from depression may actually have a more realistic perception of the world than those who are positively biased. There isn’t a huge amount of support for it in the psychological community, but enough to be worrisome.

Under the current circumstances of our country and the world, being depressed in response may be understandable in the short term, but that’s not a reason for an individual or their loved ones to accept depression. A diagnosis of depressive realism can also be used as an excuse for bad behavior or as a mask covering something more serious, so deeper investigation is warranted.

I have heard psychological theorists tout the idea that if depression is an illness, then life is an illness because we all have to deal with difficult times both globally and individually. It is also true that dealing with a depressive situation in your life and living with depression are completely different things: One is situational depression, while the other is biochemical depression.

This distinction is important because if you are depressed by your situation—whether real or manufactured with substance use—long enough, your depression can become biochemical. I’ve heard from those with complicated grief issues and PTSD that the condition is something they are forced to live with. They cannot get unwanted thoughts out of their minds, no matter how hard they fight, and that is depressing, but theirs is not a form of acceptance like depressive realism.

People who get up every day and fight their depression bravely face a daunting task. It requires discipline and support. Accepting that life is depressing is only necessary for the time that you are depressed. It is not something you want to live with forever, yet many are forced to do so because they cannot get appropriate help.

I’ve never met anyone who wanted to stay depressed any longer than they had to although, for some, it can be a choice to accept that the reason they feel bad inside is because of what is going on in the outside world. In this case, my recommendation would be to switch off the world and focus on your own well-being. It may sound selfish or impossible to those addicted to information, but it should work.

If there is a person or people in your life who are rubbing you the wrong way, you can also avoid them as long as necessary. It’s okay to take care of yourself. If the world is making you depressed, you need to create a mental and physical space where you can feel safe and heal. That may mean taking a vacation or just disconnecting the television and computer. Unplugging and basking in the warm embrace of those who love you can be the best healer.