Two new books on depression note that psychiatrists, biologists, and drug companies tend to view normal sorrow as a disorder and depression as a disease. “This might be an appropriate model for the more severe “melancholic” forms of depression that psychiatrists tend to see, but not for the majority of cases of depression,” writes Paul Keedwell, author of How Sadness Survived. “Regardless of the reason for falling into depression, the journey has the potential to make us better equipped, in a general sense, for life. If we are too busy to think and feel, to be mindful, depression might represent the first opportunity to take an honest inventory of ourselves.”
The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Disorder by Allan V. Horwitz focuses on the validity problem of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. “Just because two examiners concur that a person qualifies for a particular diagnosis does not mean that he has an authentic mental illness. In scientific terms, the diagnosis may lack validity. How do we know, for example, that a person diagnosed with major depressive disorder is not actually suffering from a bout of natural sadness brought on by a shattering loss, a grave disappointment, or a scathing betrayal?” (Sally Satel in the New Republic book review)
In short: You’re allowed to be sad. A bout of depression may be good for you. You’re not sick, you’re just human.