Can Depression Be Cured?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), depression cannot be cured. In fact, reading about depression on their website is pretty depressing [1]. As someone who has struggled with both PTSD and Depression for a long time (two diseases that go along pretty well together) without (thankfully) any substance abuse to go along with it, I can speak pretty eloquently about the scourge of depression.

Nonetheless, before we can speak about a cure for depression we have to understand what it is. It would appear as if a lot of different diseases all get combined together and given the label of depression. Our understanding of mental health is so limited that it is unclear to scientists and mental health professionals (who seem to double as sorcerers and witch doctors giving bogus chemicals to try to fix the brain as well as magic rituals to provide ‘treatment’). The fact that many health plans do not cover mental health despite (or maybe because of) the extremely high frequency of depression among the general population only complicates matters.

So, let us try to disentangle the various roots of depression. Often depression is connected with other diseases, as in my own case, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In this case there is an objective event of a horrifying and traumatic nature (violence and sexual abuse, for example). When these two diseases are combined, it is fairly likely that the the PTSD is the result of the trauma overwhelming the normal defenses of a person and that depression follows because of the inability of the mind to avoid being “stuck in the rut” after the trauma.

We might wonder if some people are more sensitive than others by nature, or prone to be more negative and pessimistic by nature, but some traumas (like rape, physical attacks, or other forms of abuse) are sufficiently objectively traumatic events that they would overwhelm the defenses of even fairly strong people. We might therefore note that depression is an objective and fairly straightforward response to abuse, and that limiting the incidence of depression might be best tacked by limiting the scourge of child abuse, given that the numbers of abuse victims and those who suffer from major depression during their lives is fairly closely related. Prevention is the best cure, and we might say that reducing (or eliminating) such abuse would be way to eliminate depression at one of its most powerful roots.

Other problems, like substance abuse and sexual abuse, also often accompany depression. But since correlations does not prove causation, we ought to note that these ought to be lagging indicators of self-medication. Often drug use (especially alcohol abuse) as well as abuse of sexuality spring from a poor self-image (especially common given the sexual abuse that often precedes depression). Self medication in an attempt to obliterate trauma or to work it out through sexual experimentation often, tragically, furthers and deepens the cycle of depression, either through leaving one open to further trauma, by tampering with the way the brain works and making it dependent on a substance or a sexual ‘high’ for normal functionality, or through a furtherance of depression due to the loss of jobs, relationships, and functionality as dependence worsens. Clearly, such acute problems must be tackled before the root ones can be dealt with, but neither can we forget that substance abuse usually serves as the cover of deeper problems and that tackling the alcoholism is only the first in a very long step of treatments and cures.

Let us note in addition that a wide variety of events, while not necessarily traumatic in nature, can lead to acute depression, just as the loss of a job, the death of a family member, marriage, or even the birth of a child or a move to a new city. Change is unsettling and uncomfortable, and often leads to depression as a result of our attempts to ruminate and understand the absurdity of life, whether objectively good or bad. We might also note that those who have deeper underlying problems (see above) would be expected to have more trouble with life’s routine absurdities than those who have had a fairly positive life with a lifetime of strong mental health.

With this said, let us turn to the question of whether depression can be cured. A $30 million grant may help somewhat in the cure for depression, as scientists seek to restore neural pathways that are disrupted by depression [2], which may be a physiological result of the mental processes that get stuck in depression, such as obsessive negative rumination, where the brain just keeps on playing the same bad tape of traumatic or negative events, getting trapped in a box with no way out. Clearly, the large amount of deaths due to suicide is a signifiant boost to efforts to seek to prevent and cure depression, despite the pessimism of the drug pushers currently in charge of the mental health establishment.

It is the rather off-putting negativity that led one depression researcher and theorist to make a public challenge to NIMH concerning their depressive account of how depression can only be treated and not cured [3]. We might understand that those who gain money out of the existence of a problem as extensive as depression might not want depression to be cured because of their reliance on the problem for funding, and we might understand that dealing with problems like alcoholism might lead some to be unnecessarily pessimistic about depression, but that does not mean that a challenge is any less warranted.

A reasonable cure for depression would tackle multiple elements of the problem of depression at the same time. For example, it would allow a way for those who are particularly sensitive or particularly burdened by a lifetime of trauma to find a way out of the rabbit warren of negativity. In addition, it would also allow for improved mental health without chemical dependency and its side effects in the attempt to drug a mind into sanity. Also, it would allow for some prevention of future episodes of depression by improving the thought processes to avoid unnecessary truama (often induced by self-medication) and helpful strategies to overcome life’s normal (and abnormal) events that we have no control over. Ideally, we might be able to start limiting the incidence of depression in the first place by cutting off the generational pathways by which abusive behaviors are copied generation after generation (including sexual abuse and substance abuse) by which depression becomes embedded in large populations. By breaking the cycle we start to eradicate chronic depression in the first place.

This may seem a tall order, but it is quite a reasonable goal when the alternative seems to be a pessimistic acceptance of depression and a desire to profit off of those who struggle against it by forcing them on psychoactive drugs, even while we try to avoid having those who struggle with depression self-medicate on (illegal) drugs and alcohol. Which is better–trying to medicate depression and farm the problem for rents (steady profits over a lifetime) or trying to greatly reduce or eliminate the problem by attacking it at the source. Let the reader decide which opinion they prefer.




About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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34 Responses to Can Depression Be Cured?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Depression is really getting out of hand and I agree with your comments and observations, also I agree that someone should challenge the ones who control the industry. I have read some of the work by Joseph Richard Crant and I must say that it is very inttriguing and shows promise as it also supplies one with a certain amount of hope. Good work Nathan πŸ™‚

  2. Anonymous says:

    This exciting and when, not if, it grabs attention, it will only be a natural progression that God will have to be mentioned as the theory itself supplies some measure of hope, of which the world is seriousely lacking.

    • Yes, this world lacks a great deal of hope. Apathy is but another form of fatalism, I figure.

      • Anonymous says:

        Isn’t the job of the government and the religious heads to supply hope for humanity? In particular the governments only report bad economic forecasts, and the religious community has been shouting the end times for years. This is not going to stop any time soon I suspect and this is the root of the loss of hope among the public I contest.

      • I don’t know about your view of government, but the last time I checked they were not in the hope business. And the religious community is a rather complicated matter. I would argue that the end times (and the return of Jesus Christ) is a message of hope, though it expresses a total lack of hope in humanity (which, in light of circumstances around the world, seems pessimistic but hardly unreasonable or irrational). Nonetheless, a large part of the duty of ministers is also to care for the wounded souls here on this earth even as we look at the larger picture of mankind’s seeming headlong rush into self-destruction.

  3. Anonymous says:

    RE: “Nonetheless, before we can speak about a cure for depression we have to understand what it is”

    What is Depression?
    The topic of depression is a controversial concern in this modern day as much as it has been for centuries, and it is likely to continue to be a source of much debate and argument unless a correct understanding of what depression is. Joseph Richard Crant, independent researcher and theorist, in 2011 posited that;

    “Depression is the autonomic response to emotional and physical exhaustion and is a vital bio-psychodynamic function as it is the inherent property of all cognitive living organisms to save (slow) entropy or heat death, of which all energy, that is the form of matter, which exists only until a time appointed that which no living organism can avoid death.” [1]

    Crant makes his point that, depression can-be-cured, with the statement that depression is the body’s natural ability to conserve vital human energy. The “cure” is accomplished when depression can be understood, and to the point of where it can b embraced. To do this,(embrace depression), Crant says, is to first dismiss absurdism as put forth by SΓΈren Kierkegaard (Circa 1843), where is it stated, “In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between the human tendency to seek value and meaning in life and the human inability to find any.” Second, Crant states, is “to find relief from the negative affects associated with depression is to realize that humans are paradoxical beings and to seek to gain insight into what this means by research and investigation of the human condition.”

    [1] Crant’s Unified Theory of Cognition (Theory of Bio-psychodynamics) Copyright Β©

    • Seeing depression as the human version of the conservation of energy we find in cold blooded animals when things get too “hot” is an interesting insight, to be certain. It would also seem to indicate that solving the brain’s overheated state in negative obsessive rumination by providing an exit from the gerbil wheel would lower the heat enough to cure the depression. In that sense, depression would not be a disease but would rather be a (temporary and perhaps episodic) state of mind when one is dealing with particularly difficult emotional and mental and moral dilemmas. It could also point to cognitive or neurological pathways that might need to be better improved among those who are prone to being depressed more often, to attempt to reconstruct the brain’s functions to a more effective operating level without trying to overmedicate it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Now we are getting somewhere
        I have recently discovered Temperament theory, and I can see a correlation with C=ea2. Hippocrates developed Temperament theory into a medical theory. He believed moods, emotions and behaviors were caused by body fluids (“humors”): blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. Galen mapped them to a matrix of hot/cold and dry/wet taken from the Four Elements. There could also be “balance” (equilibrium) between the qualities, yielding a total of, nine temperaments. The word “temperament” itself comes from Latin “temperare”, “to mix”. In the ideal personality, the complementary characteristics or warm-cool and dry-moist were exquisitely balanced. In four less ideal types, one of the four qualities was dominant over all the others. In the remaining four types, one pair of qualities dominated the complementary pair; for example; warm and moist dominated cool and dry. These latter four were the temperamental categories Galen named “sanguine”, “choleric”, “melancholic” and “phlegmatic” after the bodily humors, respectively. Each was the result of an excess of one of the humors that produced, in turn, the imbalance in paired qualities. In The Canon of Medicine, Avicenna (980-1037 AD) then extended the theory of temperaments to encompass “emotional aspects, mental capacity, moral attitudes, self-awareness, movements and dreams.”

      • I don’t believe that the theory of humors was correct, nonetheless I think the language of the theories, which names a frame of mind as “melancholy” rather than depressive, is certainly more accurate than our own diagnostic methods. After all, melancholy had both positive and negative aspects taken to extreme, whereas depression is purely negative. I would venture to say that melancholy would be much more difficult to cure than depression, but also that melancholy (despite it being an extreme) would not need to be cured, per se. Melancholy may even, as a result of the greater abilities in analytical thinking and creativity and depth of feeling, be a net benefit to the world, even if it means that rumination and depth may have the tendency to become bogged down in negativity and would therefore require some sort of balance, whether developed from within or provided by friends and family and loved ones.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Burton wrote in the 16th century that music and dance were critical in treating mental illness, especially melancholia.
    But to leave all declamatory speeches in praise of divine music, I will confine myself to my proper subject: besides that excellent power it hath to expel many other diseases, it is a sovereign remedy against despair and melancholy, and will drive away the devil himself. Canus, a Rhodian fiddler, in Philostratus, when Apollonius was inquisitive to know what he could do with his pipe, told him, “That he would make a melancholy man merry, and him that was merry much merrier than before, a lover more enamoured, a religious man more devout.” Ismenias the Theban, Chiron the centaur, is said to have cured this and many other diseases by music alone: as now they do those, saith Bodine, that are troubled with St. Vitus’s Bedlam dance.

    • Music is certainly very powerful, but part of the power of music relates to it being so mathematical. Harmony and melody are heavily related to the mathematical distance between the frequencies and intervals that music depend on (especially music in the Western tradition). Perhaps the order and the balance of well-written music is a great aid to mental health in providing evidence of meaning and balance to a mind that may lack it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We did it!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  7. Linda Martens says:

    I will enter my own ideas about depression — and they may be way off — and not particularly sympathetic — even though someday I may learn that I am dead wrong and be sorry. But I have a mother who has been plagued with depression all during our lives, and from watching the pattern I also after leaving the family home, although I have been away from it in my own life for many, many years. I have known many people with depression. Sometimes the person has had a traumatic childhood, and sometimes not. Sometimes depressed people have had a “good” childhood, and oftentimes people who have had “horrible” childhoods have no depression. It seems to me that depression is like any other addiction — to drugs or bad habits. We go into habitual depression simply because it feels very good. That may sound like a dichotomy — How can sadness feel good? In the case of habitual depression, when a person becomes discouraged or angry, it is so easy to slip into the, “I’m just a martyr,” and “Life hasn’t treated me well.” “Woe is me!” The self-nursing feels good; the martyrdom feels good. In a perverse way, the self-centered self-nursing just feels good. The feeling is addictive. I had to realize it was one thought process I was not allowed to have. Like too much chocolate for a fat person (me, somewhat) or any other addiction, it was one I had to throw off. When I realized how much I liked the feeling and how nice in that perverse way it was to go there, I had to quit. No more goodies for me. I have gone through many traumas since then — a failed marriage, being beat up, a child and grandchild with handicaps, too many to mention. I just don’t let my mind go to the wonderful self-nursing feeling (and I am so much better off for not doing that). I do realize that I could go into deep but temporary depression if I were fired from a job or for any number of reasons — but I will not go to that self-martyrdom feeling. Perhaps I am all wet and do not really understand. I have children at school who have such severe moral problems and no religious answers as we so fortunately have. I worry for them for having good reasons to fail and fail and have real depression. Oh, well, my cruel two cents — and it may be all wrong — and I may need to learn a lot more — even at my advancing age.

    • I approve your reply, though I greatly disagree. Your approach seems, and I’m putting this mildly, pretty spiteful. In fact, your comment to those who deal with depression sounds a lot like the self-talk of depressed people, giving plenty of biased and negative comments, only lacking the self-critical element of depression. Certainly there are advantages to depression, and certainly there may even be tactical uses of it (this is especially true in dysfunctional families–but in such families nearly everything is used tactically to manipulate others, and depression is merely one aspect of a great many negative aspects of such a background). At its core, depression is a lack of balance, and like all problems self-realization is necessary along with the desire to leave it behind rather than wallow in it. My main purpose with this particular post was to comment that depression can indeed be cured, but that a very large group of people (including drug companies and psychoanalysts) profit off of people remaining stuck and dependent on them (and therefore a reliable source of profits for their corrupt business practices). In doing so, one has to place personal responsibility on the individual sufferer for recognizing their own freedom and their own accountability as well as a recognition of the outside factors that cannot help but influence others, including the factors of those who immorally profit off of the despair of others.

    • jrcrant says:

      “We go into habitual depression simply because it feels very good”

      Your input is valid and never too late. I can see depression as habitual as it can be a way to justify feeling a loss and a way to gain sympathy. Still, this does not make depression a mental illness. Learned depression is not out of the question either as many only know a depressing life but the cycle can be stopped with education and true insights.
      Thank you for participating Linda πŸ™‚

  8. Richard says:

    I understand to a degree what you are saying Linda, I too have had to take a stand of not permitting myself to become depressed. In my particular case i beleieve that I have found real reasons to say that happiness and contentment are matters of choice as we become affected by our choices sometimes and we still are affected by the actions, choices and such of others. However it is indeed a fact that depression is curable although it is in the way that depression is an inherent defense mechanism against emotional-physical exhaustion much like when we have run a race and we need rest, so it is with the mind and the body in regards to needing a “rest” from the hectic pace and demands placed upon us as we agree to live within the strict and often rigid systems of societal living. All of have the choice to bow out of society and go live freely in the wilds somewhere and eek out a private and secluded life for ourselves. This is not the way however that most people want to live and so we must deal with the unnatural stressors presented to us as a result of trying to maintain some sembklence of order in communal living.
    We need to understand that depression is something that we humans cannot afford to live without as we would all simoply burn out. This may be a bit difficult to understand, however I will give it a go. In relation to the second law of thermodynamics where heat always goes towards the cold, I can say that living life in general is itself a matter of producing heat and therefore we must always need to “cool off’. To assist with depression one needs to have an accurate understanding of how depression is vital to humans to conserve potential energy. This way depression can be appreciated and the fear of it diminishes.

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  11. aqttt says:

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    us still today. However, after trying so many different medications and pills,
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