A bit about the mechanics of depression

Yesterday whilst my Twitter feed was going mad with discussion about mental health issues following the death of Robin Williams, I came across this from the comments section of the Daily Fail;



This is something I have encountered before.  What on earth have I got to be depressed about?  Seemingly, people need a reason for it.  The fact is, there is often no reason.  Depression is not something you can control.

Let’s go into the mechanics of my illness – chronic clinical depression.

It’s not just a bad day.  It’s not just feeling sad because the weather is crappy or that I had a bad day at work.  It’s a persistent pervasive feeling of worthlessness, low mood, low self esteem, lethargy, insomnia, loss of appetite, lack of interest in anything, uncontrollable crying, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, panic attacks.  It’s something that takes over your life.

It is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and may be triggered by stressful events, but it’s not something I have control over.  Do people genuinely think I enjoy feeling like this?

brain scan

The above image shows a PET scan showing brain activity in a depressed and not depressed brain.  The increase of blue areas in the depressed brain show reduced brain activity.  I don’t control this.  It’s something that controls me.  The reduced brain activity causes loss of memory, affects motor skills, decreases ability to concentrate and perform simple day to day tasks.  It’s hard work being depressed.  Why would anyone want to live like this?  This isn’t a medical blog, so I won’t go into the ins & outs of what chemicals make this happen, but it is a chemically induced state.  It’s a lack of serotonin that kick starts this whole thing, which is why I take regular medication called SSRI’s to stop extra absorption of this chemical in the brain (it’s complicated) try to keep my levels of this chemical stable.  They don’t always work, and effects can lessen over time.

Depression is merciless. As someone said on Twitter, it wants to get you in a room alone and kill you.

A huge lack of understanding causes ignorant comments like those above.  Depression has no regard for who you are, what you do or what you have.  This is why it’s important to raise awareness of this illness.  Just because you can’t see it doesn’t make it a hugely debilitating disease.  I am currently in it’s vice like grip and struggling through every day as if it’s the biggest obstacle course in the world.  It’s tiring.  I’m tired of this.



6 thoughts on “A bit about the mechanics of depression

  1. I found with me, it was a combination of an actual problem with me and a number of environmental effects.

    Changing the environment really helped me.

    • That’s not disagreeing, that’s having a different experience. You’ll also notice that I wrote ‘may be triggered by stressful events’.

      You can’t, however disagree with science, Martin.

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