Depression · Mental health

“Why are you depressed?”

One of my friends found out a few days ago that I was taking antidepressants. I’ve seen plenty of different reactions to people learning that I have depression, some way more original (and comical) than others. But since then, he’d been bugging me with the question: “why are you depressed?”

Interestingly enough, it stumped me. No one had ever really asked me so frankly (and determinedly) before. I’ve never really sat down and worked out what exactly triggered the first big depressive episode. It’s not something I talk about with counsellors or the GP.

I can see why someone would ask that. From a distance (or even close up, to be honest) I have a fabulous life. I have a caring family, a roof above my head, I’m never short of food, I’m as financially comfortable as a student can be, I’m physically healthy (mentally… functional). I’m academically and physically able enough that I never had to worry about finding a job way off in the future. I’m in a nurturing, respectful relationship. Medical school hasn’t made my hair fall out with worry (yet). So, in a perfect world, there is “no logical reason for me to be depressed”*.

After actually sitting down and thinking about why I’m depressed, I’ve decided thatย it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter to me because someone could have the most enviable lifestyle but the wrong brain chemistry, and they’ll still be depressed.

It doesn’t matter to me because there is no use appointing blame.

It doesn’t matter to me because, unless the trigger is still present and exacerbating the depression, I’d rather move on.

It doesn’t matter to me because the broadest treatment plans (lifestyle change, medication, talking therapy, psychotherapy) will be the same whatever the “cause”.

It doesn’t matter to me because, regardless of the trigger, there are so many interplays between genes and current situation that isolating one single cause feels like a pointless exercise.

So I’m depressed right now. I honestly can’t pinpoint why I’m depressed. I can probably name some factors in my life that contributed to the fact that I’m depressed, but I can’t say with any certainty. In all likelihood I would never find out exactly why. And I’m okay with that.

*There are so many things wrong with this statement that it might merit an entire blog post another day.

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