image/svg+xml Follow

I'd like to share a few things on .

First, depression is not an emotional state, but rather an altered world. Being depressed means first and foremost to inhabit a world where some things are missing: the *possibility* of happiness, goodness, connectedness.

Being depressed does not mean being sad, but inhabiting a world where the very possibility of happiness is lost, the very possibility of something good ever happening, the very possibility of genuine human connectedness.

To the depressed person, depression is not something that happens to them -- it is the world that changes. The world is deprived of possibilities, and what is experienced is not an emotion, but rather the loss of agency. The world shrinks to a minimum or even nothing, just like it does when you're ill and bound to bed by a fever: the worlds shrinks to your pillow, the blanket, and Netflix, and it is all completely unbearable.

Second, what is often called "cognitive biases" in depression (negative self evaluation, negative future expectations, et cetera) can perhaps be better understood as an altered world. (I here use the term "world" as used in the phenomenological tradition; see Matthew Ratcliffe on "the world of depression".)

Third, that depression is an altered world means that it is pretty resistant to reason. You can't talk a depressed person out of their depression with rational arguments, by pointing at all the good and beautiful things they have around them, by telling them they are good, likeable or loved. Why not? Because the world of depression lacks the very possibility of beauty, joy and love.

On the contrary, trying to cheer up a depressed person by telling them they're good and loved and they have so many things to be proud of or happy for, often just evokes guilt and shame, because they know they *should* be able to feel joy and pride and love, but *can't*. Not being able to be happy becomes just another proof of them being ultimately broken and failed. It only feeds the shame. And shame permeates the world of depression.

@drbjork This is a great thread and worthy of discussion and I'm very glad that you posted it

In the future, please mark posts about depression with a content warning (use the CW button in the editor), as this is a difficult subject for many to read about

CW's should also be applied to: politics, mentions of FB/Twitter, food, and nearly everything else, especially if it is posted as "Public"

Thanks for understanding!

@socrates Silly, boring, and passive aggressive answer at first. Sorry. I'll use CW:s generously in the future, as the community guidelines urges.

@drbjork No, my comments were meant sincerely

Attacking someone who asks for accommodations is not acceptable

I am not (currently) suffering from depression. I was enforcing the community standards as the instance admin out of courtesy to others.

I am worried that it might have been a person with depression who requested that you add CW's as per our community standards and how they might have reacted

@drbjork My turn to apologise:

I thought "Silly, boring, and passive aggressive answer at first" was referring to my request for CW's

Thanks for your understanding and I'm sorry for misinterpreting you!

@socrates Misunderstanding is always a joint venture. You're doing a good job and I love

@drbjork You are one of the few people who have understood it.

@drbjork The idea that depression entails the impossibility of happiness agrees with my experience.

It was a change of framing that allowed me to come out of depression; a new point of view in which I could frame myself as being happy. (Then the interesting question becomes how do such changes take place.)

I hadn't viewed depression in terms of frame analysis before, but doing so seems quite effective!

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Scholar Social

NOTICE: Registration on is open to anyone who is willing to abide by our Community Standards. Email scholar dot social at protonmail dot com if you want an invite!

Federated microblogging for academics

Scholar Social is a microblogging platform for researchers, grad students, librarians, archivists, undergrads, academically inclined high schoolers, educators of all levels, journal editors, research assistants, professors, administrators—anyone involved in academia who is willing to engage with others respectfully.

We strive to be a safe space for queer people and other minorities in academia, recognizing that there can only be academic freedom where the existence and validity of interlocutors' identities is taken as axiomatic.

"An academic microblog that you can be proud to put on the last slide of a presentation at a conference"

"Official" monthly journal club!

(Participation is, of course, optional)

Scholar Social features a monthly "official" journal club, in which we try to read and comment on a paper of interest.

Any user of Scholar Social can suggest an article by sending the DOI by direct message to and one will be chosen by random lottery on the last day of the month. We ask that you only submit articles that are from *outside* your own field of study to try to ensure that the papers we read are accessible and interesting to non-experts.

Read more ...