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How should we understand Depression?

hi everyone,
this probably isn't the place to do this, but i've been reading a couple of other threads with a similar theme, and I could really use your help. I'll keep it brief.

Well, I'm currently a student at university i'm supposed to be in my second year, but it looks like i'll have to drop out because of depression. (I'm not sure if I should be allowed to call it that, but iv'e had all the symptoms for over a year, and my local doctor seems to think so.) my family are skeptical I guess, and there are times when I'm sure and times when I think I'm making it all up.

Most days I feel tired, upset or restless or angry. I cant see a future for myself and hopelessly procrastinate and get irritated by the smallest things.

Therefore, my question is should we think of depression as some kind of existential struggle to find purpose in your life? or a chemical imbalance? A passing phase into aduthood? or selfishness as I've read on some other sites.

ps. I would also like advice on how I can deal with it, do you think i should take a year out of my studies?

thanks xx


Closing Statement from Vague Ideas

Thanks for the advice everyone, iv'e found it very encouraging. i wish i could have replied to all your comments but i completely forgot about the time limit.
I'm really very greatful, thanks again
:) xx

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    Nov 14 2012: Depression certainly isn't selfish. It's a good bet that you perceive it to be be so because of the stigma around it.

    My views on this may be controversial, in that I do not see depression as a dysfunctional illness. I see it as a normal reaction to something dysfunctional. The fact that depression is now so common, helps to support this argument.

    I think you are correct in saying that depression is to do with an existential struggle to find purpose in life, but I disagree that it initiates as a neurochemical imbalance. A neurochemical imbalance, under normal circumstances, is a reaction to profound dissatisfaction or loss, leading to a chemical imbalance that persists in facilitating the required existential struggle to achieve something better for you personally. It does this by stimulating introspection, which in turn stimulates deep thought about your current situation.

    During this period of introspection, I think it's essential that you temporarily get away from the situation you recognise as making you unhappy. It may be the subject you are studying, the Uni itself, something or someone you have left behind at home - only you know that. It is also essential that you have plenty of emotional support around you from people you love and trust, to enable you to talk at a deep level about what is troubling you.

    Don't discount the value of antidepressants. They don't have to be a life sentence if you also have that emotional support around you.

    I know of many students who have gone through periods of depression, and by taking a year out has been the making of them. They often come back either refocussed on their original subject choice, or change to a clearly defined and more satisfactory subject choice.

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