Depression… Defined!

I know that many of you have wondered what’s going on with me when I “disappear” from the blogosphere for a time only to return unable to explain my absence. Well here’s your chance to get an answer…

I spend so much of my time feeling as if I have nothing in common with other people that I’m actually shocked when I run across someone for whom that is not true. Such was the case when I heard Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, describe his experience with depression in Tuesday night’s (Wednesday morning’s) rebroadcast of the Charlie Rose episode Brain Series 2: Depression.

Mr. Solomon’s description was so disturbingly similar to my own ongoing experience that I literally had to pause my TV (thank you cable DVR!) several times while listening to it so I could compose myself!

The following video contains the entire episode. I’ve set it to start at the pertinent point but I suspect that you’ll want to watch the whole thing after hearing what Mr. Solomon has to say:

Video courtesy of Kanal von xknowledgeisfreex on YouTube

More at Charlie Rose: The Brain Series

I’ve got to get a copy of Andrew Solomon’s book!

I want ice water.

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18 thoughts on “Depression… Defined!

  1. I submit that nothing in all of human studies is more complex than the brain. One aspect that frustrates me about this discussion is that pharmacology is very limited in its ability to target the unique functions of the individual parts. I believe medicine has made significant progress in understanding and pharmacology but is still in the early part of the journey; they are still experimenting and I think genetic variation among the population is the wild card, the principal obstacle.

    I am personally most interested in the effects of aging. My dreams are becoming gradually more disturbing but thankfully I am not detecting any symptoms of dementia. I do perceive that it may be difficult to distinguish between functional depression, as of grief, and the kind that is of biochemical origin.

    The panel discussion was interesting, but it left me feeling they have a long way to go.


    • One of the things I find disturbing about these studies is how so many of these illnesses seem related to the same brain sub-systems. A case in point was last night’s episode, which focused Parkinson’s Disease and Huntington’s Disease but touched on so many others. 😕


      • I agree, Mak. My wife was diagnosed with Parkinson’s years ago and that diagnosis was later corrected to familial tremor. Now, at age 74 the Parkinson’s was mentioned again by our family doctor. We don’t believe it. This stuff is not settled science and I suggest that the patient can not afford to be passive in the process.


        • Familial tremor is a new one for me Jim, but from what I see on Google it sounds similar to one of the the symptoms of Huntington’s. Again, deriving from the same brain sub-systems. And I agree very much with you on the need to be more assertive with the process. The patients in last night’s episode stressed that as well. But from both shows I’m still left wondering about all the people out there who, like me, have few resources and very little support… 😕


  2. So much to think about in this video. So much that sounds familiar. And always back to the same stumbling block: Where do I find the energy to find the track down right kind of professional, the right individual, make the necessary phone calls, set the appointments, and actually get out the door and to his or her office, not once but repeatedly, and start pulling off the scabs and digging up the skeletons? It’s easier to just sit at home and let the days pass …


    • Oh God PT, you hit the nail right smack on the head. As much as I hate to admit being so flawed in my thinking, I envy and at the same time hate people like Andrew Solomon for having both the resources and the support required to deal with it. But my hope is that his willingness to share his story will ultimately help those of us who aren’t as fortunate. 😳


    • Thanks buddy. The difficulties are really hard to talk about because they’re so embarrassing. Even here, where I’ve said things I sometimes find hard to believe I’ve said, there are some things I just can’t bring myself to say… 😕


      • You should never be embarrassed about what you are going through IzaakMak. You know we love you and want to support you no matter what (even if you won’t pick up the phone 🙂 ). Thanks for sharing the video. For someone like me, who has never suffered depression the thought of what you are going through is friggin frightening. I loved his definition ” the opposite of depression is vitality”, that makes much more sense than what most people think …. the opposite of depression is being happy. xxx


        • It’s hard not to be embarrassed when I know how insane it is to be afraid I won’t survive a shower or a bath, or a walk to the grocery store, or even spending time getting to know my neighbors. But I really do appreciate the fact that it’s always you who comes around to check on me when I’ve gotten lost in my head Loon.

          I’ve spent an unbelievable amount of time composing my thoughts on what I want to write, and then even more time “tweaking” my posts in an effort to be absolutely clear. Hell Loon, I even rehearse conversations that I think I might have with people at some point in the future. But no matter how much time I spend on it, my words never seem quite sufficient to express what’s in my head and in my heart.

          Which is why Andrew Solomon’s totally accurate description felt it was being ripped from right out of my soul. Oddly enough though, while I thought his “the opposite of depression is vitality” sounded good, it didn’t really register with me as well as it should have because I didn’t truly understand what the term “vitality” meant until you forced me to look it up just now on

          capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence: the vitality of an institution.

          the power or ability to continue in existence, live, or grow: the vitality of a movement.

          Wow, that is just dead on! 😀


  3. You know Izaakmak, you are doing OK. And I do hope you know that when you are at your darkest we are all waiting for you at the other end. Sometimes waiting, waiting, waiting … but we are there 🙂

    Anywho, when all else fails there’s always our friend to cheer us up …….


  4. Pingback: World Mental Health Day (on kiwi time) | Infinite Sadness… or hope?

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