Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

On Finding Yourself Depressed about Being Sad

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

On Finding Yourself Depressed about Being Sad

Article excerpt

Losing my car keys made me sad. Learning that I had cancer made me sad. Hearing that the Brooklyn Dodgers were moving to Los Angeles also made me sad. Finding out I had to retake the nutrition exam in medical school also made me sad. Not depressed, just sad.

All of these "sad" incidents caused me to scurry for an action plan. My adherence to the plan coupled perhaps with some divine intervention (especially relating to the lost car keys and nutrition exam) got me through the briar and bramble that accompanies most sad events.

None of these episodes that changed the complexion of my day derailed my life or the way I looked at my life. None of them required counseling (but it was getting close with the Dodgers' move), pharmacological intervention, or a support group.

I was sad, unadulterated sad, BUT recognizing that it was so-called normal reactive "sadness" kept it in check. Perhaps I so quietly shifted into coping gear or planning gear that I missed the opportunity to explore or experience where the sadness could have taken me.

In certain ways it's regrettable that signs of sadness promote our close-knit bystanders to shuffle us off for professional intervention. Are we losing--or perhaps worse, being denied--the joy of being sad?

Two social work professors, Allen Horwitz and Jerome Wakefield, in their brilliant book, The Loss of Sadness, agree that: "psychiatry transformed normal sorrow into depressive disorder."

"Depression has become the single most commonly treated mental disorder, amid claims that one out of ten Americans suffer from this disorder every year and 25% succumb at some point in their lives. Warnings that depressive disorder is a leading cause of worldwide disability have been accompanied by a massive upsurge in the consumption of antidepressant medication, widespread screenings for depression in clinics and schools, and a push to diagnose depression early, on the bases of just a few symptoms, in order to prevent more severe conditions from developing."--From The Loss of Sadness.

The consequences of this observation are manifold.

Surely the look of clinical depression in which the will, vigor, and joy of moving forward have been stripped from the individual need the psychiatric cavalry. …

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