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Depression May Provide Cognitive Advantages

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the see-it's-an-advantage dept.

Medicine 512

Hugh Pickens writes "Paul W. Andrews and J. Anderson Thomson, Jr. argue in Scientific American that although depression is considered a mental disorder, depression may in fact be a mental adaptation which provides real benefits. This is not to say that depression is not a problem. Depressed people often have trouble performing everyday activities, they can't concentrate on their work, they tend to socially isolate themselves, they are lethargic, and they often lose the ability to take pleasure from such activities such as eating and sex. So what could be so useful about depression? 'Depressed people often think intensely about their problems,' write the authors. 'These thoughts are called ruminations; they are persistent and depressed people have difficulty thinking about anything else. Numerous studies have also shown that this thinking style is often highly analytical. They dwell on a complex problem, breaking it down into smaller components, which are considered one at a time.' Various studies have found that people in depressed mood states are better at solving social dilemmas and there is evidence that people who get more depressed while they are working on complex problems in an intelligence test tend to score higher on the test (PDF). 'When one considers all the evidence, depression seems less like a disorder where the brain is operating in a haphazard way, or malfunctioning. Instead, depression seems more like the vertebrate eye — an intricate, highly organized piece of machinery that performs a specific function.'"

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it makes sense (4, Funny)

mach1980 (1114097) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215329)

You just have to think about marvin the paranoid android...

Re:it makes sense (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215571)

Marvin: I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed.
Trillian: Well, we have something that may take your mind off it.
Marvin: It won't work, I have an exceptionally large mind.
Trillian: Yeah, we know.

Re:it makes sense (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215979)

I think I feel good about it.

Re:it makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215597)

"I'm a personality prototype.

You can tell-can't you?"

"Life! Don't talk to ME about life!"

Bugger skynet, the GPP feature is the technology I fear most.

(-:

Re:it makes sense (1)

Kotoku (1531373) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215621)

Or the bullet with butterfly wings.

Re:it makes sense (3, Funny)

paranoid.android (71379) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215627)

I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed.

Re:it makes sense (2, Interesting)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215731)

Outer alloy
Inner void
Marvin

Happiness has been destroyed

Wait, so my depression is good? (4, Funny)

Akido37 (1473009) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215337)

I'm going to have to think about this...

Re:Wait, so my depression is good? (5, Interesting)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215593)

Yeah, it's fucking great for me. Great till one day I end up failing to find a solution to the shit that's going on.

Yes, I am very intelligent. I am very successful in my career. I have a lot of people telling me how they would love to swap positions. I can tell you that for every person that I meet who is dumb and unsuccessful, yet happy in their lives, I would swap places in an instant.

I got asked once, if I would prefer to live intelligently in a prison knowing I was in one, or stupidly in the same place not knowing what it was. I would choose the latter.

Have a read of some of my musings and art to see some of my side of the coin:
Normal [deviantart.com]
Two Little Boys [deviantart.com]
Positive and Negative [deviantart.com]
and finally Depression [deviantart.com] the file in my sig.

For the record I am bipolar (Manic Depressive in old terminology).

Re:Wait, so my depression is good? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215707)

Some people deliberately refuse to solve their problems since they've come to rely on the depression to help them with things like art and music. Solving the problems and removing the depression would be the end to the stream of creativity they've become accustomed to. It's not very different than an alcoholic refusing to get sober because they would have to re-learn how to live life since so many things would change.

Re:Wait, so my depression is good? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215763)

Do you keep a journal on DeviantArt because you're depressed, or are you depressed because you keep a journal on DeviantArt? Eh? Eh?

I think we've made a breakthrough.

Re:Wait, so my depression is good? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215915)

Eat well, and realise that your mind lies to you about how bad things truly are.

That's how I get by.

Besides, the roller-coaster ride can be quite fun. Even when careening down the spiral I somehow take some joy from this. Maybe it's that I realise my mood bears no likeness to reality.

Life is about the experience. Enjoy every dirty, awful bit of it. :D

Reverse causation (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215339)

You have higher cognitive ability, you realize how the world runs, you get depressed. Not the other way 'round.

Re:Reverse causation (3, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215405)

I agree with this. In terms of getting pure enjoyment and satisfaction out of life I think it's much better be a little dim and therefore not be able to see all the problems. I see a ton of people like this in my day to day work and since they have a narrower view of the world (who knows if this is actually less intelligence or not though I often interpret it that way) they are much happier. They have their huge house, they love mowing their yard, they have a cusshy job doing very little somewhere, everything is OK with them so the world must be great. (Too bad they are also the ones in charge most of the time.)

Re:Reverse causation (5, Funny)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215535)

I see a ton of people like this in my day to day work and since they have a narrower view of the world (who knows if this is actually less intelligence or not though I often interpret it that way) they are much happier.

I agree! Last time we met, I was thinking that I wish I were as dumb as you. Sure, you're smarter than a lot of people (and therefore moderately happy) but if I had your meager intelligence, I would be so much happier than I am now.

Re:Reverse causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215459)

Ignorance is bliss.

Re:Reverse causation (4, Insightful)

NekoXP (67564) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215631)

I don't agree.

"Realizing how the world runs" should not make you depressed. It's actually very easy to get through life with clinical depression without worrying about what George W. Bush did, about terrorists, about capitalism, about DRM and other things Slashdot readers get huffy about, because you're usually more often than not mired in some personal difficulty, not something about how the world "runs". This is from experience.

I must say the whole analytical breaking down things in to small chunks fits MY worldview. But I don't concern myself with bigger world issues; not that I don't care, but they just don't affect me. Part of dealing with depression is picking what to be depressed about. And if you're spending all your time having anxiety attacks and downward slumps and moody funks about what a politician is doing in another state, or who is suing who for patent rights, or the state of Somalia, you are going to have far more personal problems hit you in the ass later on than you can probably deal with adequately.

meaning of life and existential crisis (1)

alphamerik (948212) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215875)

Unfortunately there exists a condition of being depressed about ones function within the universe and purpose for being. What is the meaning of relationships? Is everything self gratification? Absurdism may be the only practical approach, but not everyone is depressed about petty worldy or personal things.

Re:Reverse causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215949)

"Realizing how the world runs" should not make you depressed. It's actually very easy to get through life with clinical depression without worrying about what George W. Bush did, about terrorists, about capitalism, about DRM and other things Slashdot readers get huffy about, because you're usually more often than not mired in some personal difficulty, not something about how the world "runs". This is from experience.

A few of those relate directly to personal difficulty (DRM, capitalism, and terrorists -- specifically, how the reaction to them makes plane trips difficult. And some of what Bush did). It just takes an intelligent person to notice that, realize he can't do shit about it, realize this means he's stuck with his personal difficulties, and thus become depressed as a result. Unless he has high capacity for self delusion, in which case he becomes schizophrenic or bipolar instead.

Re:Reverse causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215967)

Well, I hate to brake it to you, but this is not how the world runs. You are a sheep, a slave and a scientific experiment all rolled up in one. The one that control us have no emotional ability of any kind, so thinking that if you on the top you get happy doesn't work either. Not giving a shit might be a good coping strategy in your opinion, but it also prevents you from being truly happy, the only thing you do is follow the herd.

True happiness requires emotional capabilities, independence, self-sufficiency and control over your own life.

If you think you have all that, than you are in an illusion, no one on this earth have it.

Re:Reverse causation (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29216089)

If you think "realizing how the world runs" means something as minor as "ZOMG BUSH AND DRM AND PATENTS", I suspect you have not yet realized how the world runs. As they say, ignorance is bliss.

Re:Reverse causation (5, Insightful)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215681)

That's what we *used to* think. This research suggests that we were in fact incorrect.

Correlation and causation are difficult to disentangle, and I'm usually the first to point out what you did. But this research is specifically into temporary advantages, not actual intelligence boosting.

The idea is you shut everything out, except for what you're trying to solve - putting the blinders on, so to speak. You get no pleasure from nor have desire for things which might distract you from the issue at hand.

It's not an intelligence boost, just a way of coping with a problem. Usually its' several problems, my opinion creeping in. Too much to do, too much stress, and the mind revolts and says "one thing at a time, my friend".

Re:Reverse causation (2, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215843)

Perhaps, but like beer intellect is a solution as well as a problem; the sublime joys of a persons chosen intellectual endeavor blows blissful ignorance out of the fucking water. Exasperation at the absurdity and comparative stupidity of the world simply provides the higher ability person with contrast.

Re:Reverse causation (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215945)

The trouble with clinical depression is that it makes its victims miserable. So miserable that they often turn to drugs (whether prescription or illegal) or alcohol. My friend Amy, a hardcore alcoholic (in treatment for her alcoholism right now) was almost thirty before she started drinking, but had suffered from depression almost all her life.

Considering what she's told me about her upbringing, It's no wonder she suffers from depression.

Interestingly, though, when I was prescribed Paxil for adjustment disorder with depressed mood [wikipedia.org] after my divorce, the drug dulled my drive and curiosity as well as my depression.

Correlation is not Causation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215341)

"Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to take you down to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction? 'Cos I don't."

old news (4, Interesting)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215343)

I am lazy and I did a quick google and couldn't find a link...

However, I remember reading about a study in my college Psychology class that pointed to the fact that people depressed actually have a *clearer* view of reality when compared to the non-depressed. It's a rose colored glasses type of effect. When given questions about certain situations, clinically depressed persons tended to give more answers that matched up with the real-world reality of situations than the non-depressed.

In other words the world is shit I am justified in being depressed all the time.

Re:old news (4, Informative)

alexhs (877055) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215419)

Here [wikipedia.org] is a link (pointing to studies).

Re:old news (1)

nulldaemon (926551) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215485)

Maybe the "real-world reality" was interpreted by a depressed person. Just saying...

Re:old news (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215607)

Well... along those lines I am happy to read the wikipedia article linked in above, because it is eye opening and balancing to see some of the counter arguments there (which I agree with... the depressed are also less likely to see the positive when it is there).

However, there are plenty of real world FACTS that can be used in a study like this that aren't open to alternative views of reality, and I do believe that many of these negative facts are glossed over in the mind of the "normal" non-depressed person simply for the fact that dwelling on them causes problems in functioning. For instance, if we dwell too much every day on how dangerous the roads really are we might have problems using them every day. That's a bad example, but maybe you can catch my drift from that.

Re:old news (1)

nulldaemon (926551) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215759)

As matter of fact, I completely agree with you. It's being able to ignore the trivial problems, look on the bright side of bad situations and the Just-world phenomenon that enable happy people to stay happy.
I think I was just being cynical...

Re:old news (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215643)


This doesn't relate to clinical depression, but just personal development. But I think people can start out happy and unaware, and then when they become more aware, become dissatisfied with mundane accomplishments, whatever, then it knocks their happiness out of kilter. And there they get stuck. But becoming more aware is a necessary step in one's development. The trick is to get to the stage beyond that which is aware and happy. That usually comes about through action on the things you've become aware of and changing your behaviour.

Just some thoughts.
H.

Re:old news (3, Interesting)

howlinmonkey (548055) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215667)

I have read similar studies and find that amazing when considered in the light of the fact that successful people tend to be more optimistic. So, seeing a "clearer view of reality" doesn't seem to confer any advantages. I lean toward the view that intelligent people are more depressed because of the fact that they see reality more clearly.

Re:old news (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 5 years ago | (#29216017)

That's how the Total Perspective Vortex works.

Re:old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29216105)

In other words the world is shit I am justified in being depressed all the time.

No, you have no justification whatsoever to be depressed while receiving any sort of oral service on your genitalia from an attractive female or male (whatever floats your boat.) You should just close your eyes and float away. If you are depressed, you are doing it wrong. Get some meds.

Poppycock! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215353)

My parents/teachers/doctors/government say I need the bennies.

I can't escape... (4, Funny)

pHus10n (1443071) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215373)

... I'm all depressed and thought I would come to Slashdot and read some funny comments. That'll cheer me up, right? No one RTFA? Snarky posts for +5 Funny? All I found was an article reminding me how god damned depressed I am.

Re:I can't escape... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215469)

Sorry to hear, bud. Go have some sex, that'll cheer you up right-quick.

...

Oh shit, forgot where I was. Sorry man, you're screwed.

Re:I can't escape... (1)

pHus10n (1443071) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215507)

I re-read my post, and while I was aiming for Funny, it didn't quite come out that way. Thanks for the thought, though :)

Re:I can't escape... (3, Funny)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215921)

I would have modded it +1 Suicidal

I guess thats why the saying goes (1)

McNihil (612243) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215375)

Wound up too tight. Depth first focus. Not a surprising finding IMHO.

Coffee helps to make sure that the depth of focus is not too deep where one hits the bottom (depression, with extremely single minded and obsessive thinking.) A little chaos is actually a good thing (tm).

wait... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215377)

if you are better at solving your problems when you are depressed, how come depressed people commit suicide when they are faced with problems?

Re:wait... (5, Funny)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215481)

Not every depressed person drifts to suicide. Some of us just become miserable cynical bastards.

Kind of like Goth vs Emo - one wants to kill you, while the other wants to kill himself.

Re:wait... (5, Funny)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215817)

Jesus Christ, those are the two choices?

Fuck.

Re:wait... (1)

SpooForBrains (771537) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215575)

Well, it's a very direct way of solving their problem ...

Re:wait... (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215625)

Because we find futility in what we do. Sometimes you realize that even if you solve your current problem, there is still no solution to the other stuff going on.

people get suicidal when they cannot find any way out and are unable to find someone who can communicate to anyone who they see as understanding. I know, I have been there.

Re:wait... (3, Funny)

Zashi (992673) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215647)

Because suicide is usually the best option. Why deal with one problem at a time when you can get rid of all your problems once and for all.


Yes. I'm being snarky. I also happen to have a 148 IQ and have been diagnosed with clinical depression, so don't anyone mod me down for being insensitive to the smarty-pants depressasaurouses. I am one of them.

Re:wait... (-1, Troll)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215891)

MY IQ IS A BILLLLLLLLION UHUHUHHPR

fuck slashdot and its neurotic-ass filters.

Re:wait... (0)

anticharisma (1431855) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215779)

cos they appreciate they lack power to fix da problem...

Speaking from personal experience (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215381)

I find it much more difficult to think logically about my own emotional problems when I am depressed. In that state, introspection is likely to lead to more depression. That's why it's referred to as a vicious cycle — depression is depressing! So it might be easier to figure out other people's problems but I'm skeptical that it actually leads to solutions to one's own social problems. Then again, perhaps that's just because I'm personally poorly socialized.

Re:Speaking from personal experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215435)

Anecdotally, I think depression becomes chronic when one can't find a solution to their problem. It's probably a very useful tool for at the start but becomes a problem when, after many nights awake, the poor sod feels that their situation is futile and unsolvable.

Re:Speaking from personal experience (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215665)

Sounds like you're trying to avoid solving the problems that are causing you to be depressed in the first place. Having gotten through a pretty serious depression not long ago, I finally see how things ended up as they did and why my life was so reclusive. All the way back to how childhood experiences affected me.

Still doesn't fill the emptiness. 3 years of effort at socializing and all I got was this depression. ^_^

Re:Speaking from personal experience (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#29216029)

Still doesn't fill the emptiness. 3 years of effort at socializing and all I got was this depression. ^_^

Well, what's really missing from the modern existence most people lead is a real connection, with anyone. I think this is mostly because we aren't forced to get along with the people in our village any more. It has become a valid option to just move. Writ large enough this means no problem will ever get solved. We just keep moving. Devastate one continent, and populate the next. Too bad we're out of those...

Re:Speaking from personal experience (2, Informative)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215675)

I find it much more difficult to think logically about my own emotional problems when I am depressed.

My emphasis is added there... because I think it's true. I think though the argument that seems to be made here is that you can think better analytically. I know as much as I have tried through my years of depression to think an emotional problem through analytically it has never worked.

Again.. Depression is not a good thing to have no matter what any study says. Just because it can give you a slight advantage in one area of life doesn't mean it gives you a major disadvantage in another area (or with Depression many areas) of life.

Re:Speaking from personal experience (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215699)

Stupid double negative. Depression can give you a slight advantage in one area of life... but it also causes major disadvantages in many other areas of your life. That's what I meant.

Re:Speaking from personal experience (1)

Falconhell (1289630) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215849)

A very good friend committed to suicide due to depression some 20 years ago at 25 years old, for almost exactly that reason, he wrote he could not break what he called "the circle".

He was an whiz programmer, worked for defense dept as a research scientist.

I will never forget his first PC. All hand built, including keyboard of individual switches hard wired and a wooden case. Wrote his own OS in machine code at 17. Of course nobody had even heard of a mouse back then.

He would have loved Slashdot

Great musician too, such a loss.

  I can relate to this quote from X05633511 post above.

"Not every depressed person drifts to suicide. Some of us just become miserable cynical bastards."

(-;

Maybe it is like malaria and sickle cell (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215393)

A trait that confers resistance to malaria when you get both or one of the dominate forms of hemoglobin from your parents, but you get screwed if you get both recessive genes. The odds get better for the majority of combinations, but one particular outcome is worse.

Maybe natural selection is selecting for more analitical thinking in most combinations of parental genes, but the group that gets all the recessives ends up with depression.

Reading shit like this (2, Insightful)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215401)

Depresses the hell out of me.

Beer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215407)

So might depressants provide a similar boost? I've found that a beer or two helps me concentrate on problem sets. Maybe I'm not deluded...

I suspect I'd be a lot happier. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215409)

If I were able to perform this intricate and highly adapted function and also handle the slightest daily stresses.

woo hoo! (5, Funny)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215415)

Depression May Provide Cognitive Advantages

I've been struggling with a real tough problem, and getting more and more depressed.
Now I read this, and I have hope of solving it! woo hoo!

I can't tell you how happy I am!

wait....

Genius has its cost or v/v, maybe. Sometimes? (1)

Cragen (697038) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215425)

Yup, the Mensa test was depressing. I passed, of course.

Re:Genius has its cost or v/v, maybe. Sometimes? (2, Interesting)

tsstahl (812393) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215629)

As opposed to the emotional effect of failing when you thought you'd blow right through it? :)

This is a surprise? (4, Insightful)

LaminatorX (410794) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215437)

Most mental disorders are a result of an otherwise normal or useful mental process run-amok. Happiness and energy are good, but take them too far and you've got mania. Organization and hygine are good, but take them too far and you get OCD. Depression when half your family just died in a car wreck and your life is in turmoil is a normal part of coping, depression all the time when nothing is particularly wrong is a disease.

It's Considered a Mental Disorder *NOW*... (3, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215439)

Give it a couple of years and it will be referred to as our "Outlook Orientation," and the government will commission a study to see if depressed people are being properly represented in grade school textbooks.

Re:It's Considered a Mental Disorder *NOW*... (1)

tsstahl (812393) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215745)

Wow, that is some protagonist, an adopted depressed gender confused 6th grader confined to a wheel chair with biracial lesbian parents who only speak Spanish.

Re:It's Considered a Mental Disorder *NOW*... (3, Funny)

Explodicle (818405) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215855)

And poor, too! Imagine how cramped it must be, confined to a wheelchair with two other people.

What about suicide (3, Interesting)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215461)

seems to me like any survival advantage offered by this would be completely wiped out by the fact that depressed people kill themselves hell of a lot more than non-depressed people.

Re:What about suicide (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215603)

Could be a result of two possible outcomes:

Person has a problem -> become slightly depressed and their brain is put in "problem solving mode" -> they solve the problem and become normal again.
or:
Person has a problem -> become slightly depressed and their brain is put in "problem solving mode" -> they fail at solving their problem -> become more depressed -> they fail -> .etc.. -> suicide.

Re:What about suicide (3, Interesting)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215795)

When the body adapts to challenges, but you don't change anything and don't solve the problems the body has adapted to, the brain's functions go haywire.

So this research says you have a problem, or several problems. Instead of using depression to advantage and actually resolving things, people tend to distract themselves with TV and alcohol or other drugs. They even take antidepressants, which make them feel they don't have to change anything at all.

Eventually the brain can't cope, and it basically says "HEY, I'M TRYING TO HELP YOU, PLEASE LISTEN" and then it just gets frustrated and gives up. That could be why you have "cry for help" suicide attempts with depressed people, instead of actual success.

Yes they do kill themselves, but in a world without plentiful and available alcohol, and without TV, and other distractions, it could help you focus on the problem at hand. Remember, survival advantage is usually measured on an organism and its natural environment - abnormal environments yield abnormal behaviour.

Re:What about suicide (2, Insightful)

nulldaemon (926551) | more than 5 years ago | (#29216005)

They even take antidepressants, which make them feel they don't have to change anything at all..

Well anti-depressants, if prescribed properly, do the exact opposite. They enable people to change their environment and break the vicious cycle of depression.

I'll give you the example of someone who, due to their depressive state, is incapable of leaving the house. Without going in to much detail, this will make their depression worse. Give that same person some anti-depressants and they might feel good enough to leave the house, make new friends and create a positive reinforcing cycle. By the time the wean off the drugs, their environment might have changed such that they remain happy.

Don't believe all the negative publicity; Drugs can be very helpful.

Re:What about suicide (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#29216091)

Intelligence is only a survival advantage to a certain point...Once you're smart enough to out-think the predators, find the good woman, and get the high status position, all the rest of your brain power is effectively geared toward stuff that's not relevant for survival.

Look at words that commonly get linked to genius: evil, mad, tortured, insanity (as in "There is a fine line between...". Ever see "happy genius"? "Well adjusted genius"? Not saying it doesn't happen, but it's the exception.

I've seen studies and philosophies that talk about "abnormally" high intelligence as disruptive to society, and talk about it as self-limiting (e.g. smart people prune themselves by not breeding and/or killing themselves).

So yea, don't think of it as a "more is better" situation. The sweet spot of intelligence in society is probably in the 130's...Too much above that and alienation starts kicking in.

//167 here. Alienated like a motherfucker.

 

Ignorance is Bliss (1)

Akido37 (1473009) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215471)

I guess the fact that "Ignorance Is Bliss" is a saying, kind of implies that people always knew this.

Well doh (4, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215537)

Honestly, we all know that there are things like "taking things too seriously" and "taking things too lightly". Depression isn't there as a cruel joke to make miserable people more miserable, it's to make sure that in a grave situation you take a honest look at the situation and deal with it. It's a natural self-defense mechanism that for example you probably wouldn't want to have sex, get pregnant and have a child in a bad situation, being a leftover from before contraception. Of course some people get too much of it, just like others want to cuddle the cute grizzly bear and don't see a problem until they make a Darwin award of themselves. Very few aspects of typical human behavior is really that irrational, though it can be really out of place in the modern world.

Old news (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215595)

I read this somewhere over a month ago.

Makes sense (2, Insightful)

gte275e (91656) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215659)

This article pretty much describes me to a T. I have been suffering from depression for a few years now and whenever I get down, I definitely have the thinking patterns that was described in this post. However, after going through depression, I have decided that it is much, much better to be ignorant and happy than depressed and realistic.

They forgot an important thing. (5, Insightful)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215685)

While depressive people tend to consider a problem very intensely and break it into lots of sub-problems and try to analyze what could have happened if some options were different, all those - ruminations (as the summary states) - still lead to nothing because the all the shit has already hit the fan and there is nothing that can undone that. so the thoughts go round and round and round again.

And pain is very beneficial to survival (4, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215695)

But chronic pain is not so wonderful.

Having an immune system is also beneficial to survival. Multiple sclerosis, not so great.

I would rather be happy and stupid ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215703)

Having suffered from depression in the past, I can tell you that this finding brings no comfort to depressed people. I would rather be happy and terrible at solving problems than be depressed and great at it.

Re:I would rather be happy and stupid ... (1)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215739)

Knowledge is power, but ignorance is bliss?

This story.... (1)

alvieboy (61292) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215711)

This story really made me feel deeply depressed. I guess I'll ruminate for a while now.

-----
Best sig ever: SEGFAULT

in other words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215773)

the psych profession still has very little idea of what is going on in the human mind but they still insist on "treating" people

Sweet (3, Funny)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215775)

Nobel prize, here I come.

More liek (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215783)

COCK-nitive advantages, amirite ?

But what does it accomplish... (1)

Anarchitektur (1089141) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215791)

if your conclusion to all these said problems is "everything is crap"?

An expression of "Depressive Realism" (5, Interesting)

malkavian (9512) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215803)

This is basically where people who are prone to depression have markedly less influence by illusiory conditions. They view the world as it is, without the rose tinted spectacles of the non-depressed.
This gives a general predisposition towards problem solving and accurate assessment of situations, allowing the excision of the personal investment in problems, treating the problem as a more logical construct, which overall leads to better problem solving (which has been researched since the late 70s and 80s).

However, depression being what it is, it doesn't make life around a depressed person any easier, and isn't that great for the depressed person themselves (I speak as one that's prone to that state of mind and have to be a little careful from time to time; it does make things in my favourite field of IT Business Continuity seem somewhat easier than it does for most though, with me jokingly being accused of having enough paranoia for the whole hospital).
The trouble with "Depressive Realism" is that it's not entirely evident whether it's the realistic state of mind that brings about depression (having trouble with the normal chit chat that greases the social wheels, yet goes nowhere, is a real drag and will definitely get you down), or whether it's the depressive state of mind that leaves you more objective.

New way to crack JEE. (2, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215819)

About a week or so before sitting for the IIT-JEE [wikipedia.org] break up with your girlfriend and fall into despair and depression. Great way to boost your All India Rank and State Rank.

Unconditional happyness IS the true disorder (2)

Zen-Mind (699854) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215827)

I never considered an occasional depression a disorder and this tends to prove it; depression would just be a state of mind to help you solve the problem that caused the state of mind in the first place. To me people that are always depresses or even always happy are probably the ones suffering from a disorder.

functionless until proved grantable (4, Interesting)

epine (68316) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215847)

Ruminant depression is a different order of magnitude from end-of-universe major depression. Which do they mean?

Sherwin Nuland on electroshock therapy [ted.com]

At the other end of the spectrum, it's just a mood disorder (and working title of Annie Hall).

Anhedonia [wikipedia.org]

Years ago I read an article about stress and the immune system. The claim was that under stress, the immune cells leave the blood stream and enter into the skin cells. Hence the collapse of immune levels in the blood stream. Stress is often associated with physical confrontation. Perhaps under this circumstance the body is more concerning about fighting off infection from skin trauma than whether the last meal was a mite tainted, or some child has picked up a sneeze.

I haven't seen this followed up, but does it really make sense that body's response to stress is to shut down the immune system? Never to me, it didn't.

Another great one is the doctors instructing you that "whatever your itch system conveys, ignore it".

'Itchy' neurons tell mice when to scratch [www.cbc.ca]

So we have an entire nervous subsystem devoted to itch, and our only response is to not listen?

I read an article that the appendix is now believed to act as a pocket of gut bacteria to restart the gut after a core dump.

And then there was the whole thing about "junk DNA" where junk is apparently a scientific word meaning "you can't write a successful grant to study this". From another perspective, at the original sequencing cost of $1 per base pair, I can feel their pain.

I get mighty tired of the scientific meme "functionless until proved grantable". Were the scientists originally responsible for this, or the surgeons?

How many doctors does it take to change a light bulb? Three, but while they're at it, they'll change the socket too.

morning brain cramp (1)

epine (68316) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215937)

Add to my previous post masturbation and nocturnal emission: it turns out that a small amount of fresh sperm is more effective than a larger quantity of stale spumen.

And female orgasm: the cervix mashes down on a little pocket where semen pools.

And the bulbous bowhead of the male member: turns out to be good at removing stale/foreign semen from the vaginal tract.

I knew I had more material, but it was locked away in another file.

Mary Roach: 10 things you didn't know about orgasm [ted.com]

Yeah? (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215863)

I must have been a f*cking genius back then.

Let me try this out. (3, Funny)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215867)

I'm currently doing a very complicated documentation job about a system I've not worked on previously (its essentially been abandoned and I have to put together what they've done so it can be continued). I'm going to put on a few Radiohead tracks and see if it gets any easier.

Is this irony? (1)

jggimi (1279324) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215907)

Because if I suffer from both obesity and clinical depression [slashdot.org] then my brain is an intelligent mess.

the clarity comes from the removal of optamism (1)

anticharisma (1431855) | more than 5 years ago | (#29215919)

optamistic people are living on hope; depresso guy acknowledges that he will never everr get to bang all the hot chicks, he is right cos he's sober free from the drunkenness of optamism

Depression sells medicine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29215963)

We are supposed to dwell,be sad, and sometimes feel depressed. A good diet and plenty of water/exercise will balance out the feelings and help you reflect. Meds and quick fixes are to be avoided.

Did anyone else read... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29216001)

... Paul Thomas Anderson the first time they saw the summary?

I was like "you'd know all about depression, you wrote Magnolia."

These thoughts are called ruminations (0, Flamebait)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 5 years ago | (#29216037)

I like the idea that depressed people can have deeper thoughts than everyone else just by calling them some fancy name. I bet that helps them feel better about how shitty their lives are. It's no wonder that Thesaurus and Therapy both start with TH. THPBBBPPP!

This explains the PHBs of the world (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#29216049)

If my PHB is trying to make me miserable, it's just so I'll have higher mental faculties. Of course, if I fail to show a sunny and cheery disposition despite my misery, I'll be marked down as having a bad attitude.

Of course, all this can be solved by being one of the 10% of Americans who are on happy pills.

Nothing new under the sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29216073)

The old adage still rings true - Ignorance is bliss

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