Sometimes medical professionals, and laypersons in general, make the mistake of conflating depression with sadness or grief. Grief is a healthy and normal reaction to adverse conditions in one’s life, whether the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, prolonged unemployment, a breakup, and the countless obstacles we face in our every day lives.
Sadness and grief can also come about as a result of sociocultural conditions. The election of Donald Trump, the realization that our planet may be doomed (the S-Town podcast’s focus on one such individual being a perfect example).
Our culture and medical professions though have shaped our understanding in such a way that sadness of any kind is deemed as undesirable. We have ceased to analyze sadness in its context and have deemed most if not all instances of it as “depression”. But sometimes sadness is reasonable, appropriate and healthy.
Depression rightly understood should be only instances of prolonged sadness long after the conditions that caused it have gone away, or sadness in the absence of any identifiable cause.
Medicalizing all instances of sadness as “depression” is to pathologize normal human behavior. To treat as a medical condition something that is intrinsic to us and in many instances a healthy and appropriate reaction to an insane world.