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Is sadness from depression real or just chemical?

alixer

We are all one
SF Supporter
#1
Is sadness caused by clinical depression real or a chemical illusion? Do we know if chemicals can right the ship or do we have to work through the sadness? Sometimes it feels like a house filled with smoke and mirrors.
 

Paisley

* * *
SF Artist
SF Supporter
#2
Depression can be caused by experiences or biological dispositions or a mix of both; it's different for everyone that has it. But no matter the composition of it, it's real. The only way we experience any emotion is through chemicals in our brains.
 
#3
I guess my take on it is that the emotional and the physical are interrelated.

I think there are images of brain tissue that show a difference between the brain of depressed person and a person who is not depressed, so I have no doubt that there is a physical basis for depression. It's just that emotions can cause physical changes.
 

Paisley

* * *
SF Artist
SF Supporter
#4
Do we know if chemicals can right the ship or do we have to work through the sadness?
Sorry, I forgot to address this part as well.

Based on your own reasons for depression, the answer is going to vary. If your depression is mostly situational, then taking meds won't be very effective, just like if your problem is mostly chemical then therapy might not do much to help. I truly don't believe there's a one-size-fits-all approach for something this complex.
 

Acy

Mama Bear - TLC, Common Sense
Admin
#5
@alixer - I suspect it can be both...so that if there’s a chemical imbalance, we feel it, and if there’s an identifiable reason it could start up a prolonged chemical response in some people. If someone had firm answers to your question, I think they might get a Nobel prize. :)

The smoke and mirrors effect could be depression saying, “Hey, you’re just letting yourself get mired in your stuff. Get going.” And if you’re depressed, it really might not be that easy to “get going.” Medication (chemicals) helps some people feel better - can take the edge of the worst of the depression (e.g., the sadness, lethargy, irritability). I think having someone to talk to about life’s ups and downs is helpful as well as medication. Maybe this is something to discuss with your doctor...what combination of therapies s/he thinks will work best for you - and why. :)
 

Acy

Mama Bear - TLC, Common Sense
Admin
#8
I’m sorry you feel that. It must be hard. :(

Have you seen your doctor? A professional is the only person who can tell you for sure if it’s depression or something else. I think that might be a first step.

Are there things that you enjoy sometimes, even if you have these self-destructive thoughts? Sometimes we have to build our lives from the ground up to find that place that feels okay. Do you have hobbies? Sports? A favourite book or music? Maybe focusing on any little bit that is good for even a moment and building from that might help. And please do see your doctor. :)
 

alixer

We are all one
SF Supporter
#9
I do see and have seen a therapist and psychiatrist. I take medication, do therapy. But I still can’t figure out if the sadness I feel is real. It’s all-consuming and yet it feels like a hallucination, imposed. And when bad things do happen, then it pushes me over the edge. I have never understood my feelings. I’ve always had trouble processing them. They don’t seem legit. Either because I have conflicting emotions or because they feel like something happening to me rather than being something I’m feeling.
 

Walker

Admin
SF Social Media
SF Author
SF Supporter
#10
I think those things are related to each other but - I think there's a large chemical component. My case? Think of how one can do drugs and feel so much better immediately. Think how someone else can fall in love and all those chemicals flood the system and they're immediately feeling okay enough to function again. Another person can do something dangerous - drag race a car, go skydiving, go zip lining, etc and when the flood of chemicals kicks in that lasts hours and they're smiling, laughing, they forget all about everything that has been sitting on them like an elephant until... later that night when it all rages back in and returns like yesterday. I think those things are more than "having a good time" because you could "have a good time" at the pub/bar, out for coffee or going shopping but it doesn't give them the same rush of chemicals.

So then the question you're posing is -- is it real? Is what you feel, real? Well yeah. It's real. It's no less valid because it's chemicals than it would be if it was cells that had mutated and become fucked up giving you cancer or something.
All your emotions are chemical. We're all in a state of neutral normally, right? We don't walk around looking or feeling happy or sad or whatever (most of us). We don't "feel" a certain way most of the time, we're just waltzing around feeling "meh" about things. The we get hit with a sadness or a wave of depression during these few hours of the day or we feel happy for a few minutes seeing your friends baby photo on social media or watching that video of kittens playing (IDK, I don't know what makes people feel that "happy" thing for a minute overall). But that's a tiny shot of chemical being released that let's you feel that.

When you take medication it's trying to help your brain stabilize and regulate those chemicals. "Lets have more of this!" "Let's only release this one when we get some of this!" "Less of this one, please!" They're trying to help your brain when it's forgotten how. Eventually you might be able to do that on your own again. Many many people do. (Those people don't usually show up here at SF because most people that show up here are acutely suicidal OR have been suicidal a very long time and have felt very bad for so long that they want to die because of it but people are taking anti depressants all over the world for a year or two and getting off them. They're some of the most widely prescribed medications for a reason!)

Lastly, you don't have to justify how you feel: to yourself or anyone else. I'm referring to this -
I have never understood my feelings. I’ve always had trouble processing them. They don’t seem legit. Either because I have conflicting emotions or because they feel like something happening to me rather than being something I’m feeling.
Sometimes you just feel how you feel and it's shit. I'm sorry that it IS shit but allowing yourself to feel that way is potentially easier than trying to "understand" it.

Wishing you well tonight,
Matt
 

Paisley

* * *
SF Artist
SF Supporter
#11
I do see and have seen a therapist and psychiatrist. I take medication, do therapy. But I still can’t figure out if the sadness I feel is real. It’s all-consuming and yet it feels like a hallucination, imposed. And when bad things do happen, then it pushes me over the edge. I have never understood my feelings. I’ve always had trouble processing them. They don’t seem legit. Either because I have conflicting emotions or because they feel like something happening to me rather than being something I’m feeling.
Your sadness is definitely real. It's real because you are experiencing it. The way you experience it might differ from how others do, but even if so, it's still as real as anyone else's.

In a way your sadness is imposed in that it seems to be a predisposed state of being which you didn't choose to have, but the human brain is able to change over time in some cases, so there is hope it could get better.

Conflicting emotions are normal, I believe most people have them at some point, it doesn't make either of those emotions invalid, rather it just means you can see multiple points of view at once.
 

alixer

We are all one
SF Supporter
#12
I think those things are related to each other but - I think there's a large chemical component. My case? Think of how one can do drugs and feel so much better immediately. Think how someone else can fall in love and all those chemicals flood the system and they're immediately feeling okay enough to function again. Another person can do something dangerous - drag race a car, go skydiving, go zip lining, etc and when the flood of chemicals kicks in that lasts hours and they're smiling, laughing, they forget all about everything that has been sitting on them like an elephant until... later that night when it all rages back in and returns like yesterday. I think those things are more than "having a good time" because you could "have a good time" at the pub/bar, out for coffee or going shopping but it doesn't give them the same rush of chemicals.

So then the question you're posing is -- is it real? Is what you feel, real? Well yeah. It's real. It's no less valid because it's chemicals than it would be if it was cells that had mutated and become fucked up giving you cancer or something.
All your emotions are chemical. We're all in a state of neutral normally, right? We don't walk around looking or feeling happy or sad or whatever (most of us). We don't "feel" a certain way most of the time, we're just waltzing around feeling "meh" about things. The we get hit with a sadness or a wave of depression during these few hours of the day or we feel happy for a few minutes seeing your friends baby photo on social media or watching that video of kittens playing (IDK, I don't know what makes people feel that "happy" thing for a minute overall). But that's a tiny shot of chemical being released that let's you feel that.

When you take medication it's trying to help your brain stabilize and regulate those chemicals. "Lets have more of this!" "Let's only release this one when we get some of this!" "Less of this one, please!" They're trying to help your brain when it's forgotten how. Eventually you might be able to do that on your own again. Many many people do. (Those people don't usually show up here at SF because most people that show up here are acutely suicidal OR have been suicidal a very long time and have felt very bad for so long that they want to die because of it but people are taking anti depressants all over the world for a year or two and getting off them. They're some of the most widely prescribed medications for a reason!)

Lastly, you don't have to justify how you feel: to yourself or anyone else. I'm referring to this -

Sometimes you just feel how you feel and it's shit. I'm sorry that it IS shit but allowing yourself to feel that way is potentially easier than trying to "understand" it.

Wishing you well tonight,
Matt
You think it’s less important to understand than to just treat? How do I ask it? Do you think we can treat without understanding? Thank you for your thoughtful response.
 

Acy

Mama Bear - TLC, Common Sense
Admin
#13
Depression can lie to us and make us think our feelings are not valid. If we are blocking our feelings (any blocked feelings - sadness, anger, joy), then we do tend to feel blunted or somewhat unreal.

We feel conflicted when realities seem to oppose each other. Talking things out with a therapist can help, but it’s not a quick fix. First we need to figure out what the situations are that make us feel conflicted, and then we need to accept that we feel two (or more) ways about it at the same time. Finally, we need to understand that maybe it’s okay - maybe the other person or people in the circumstances are not being consistent, so we don’t feel consistent...that makes it hard to get what we need from them or to know how to feel about them.

I think you’re on the right path, and that even recognizing that you have conflicting feelings is a sign of good progress. You’re working through it. :)
 

alixer

We are all one
SF Supporter
#14
Your sadness is definitely real. It's real because you are experiencing it. The way you experience it might differ from how others do, but even if so, it's still as real as anyone else's.

In a way your sadness is imposed in that it seems to be a predisposed state of being which you didn't choose to have, but the human brain is able to change over time in some cases, so there is hope it could get better.

Conflicting emotions are normal, I believe most people have them at some point, it doesn't make either of those emotions invalid, rather it just means you can see multiple points of view at once.
Thanks. It’s just hard to think they’re real when they don’t seem to be with reason. Something bad happens you get sad. I get that. That’s not what’s usually the case.
 

Paisley

* * *
SF Artist
SF Supporter
#15
Thanks. It’s just hard to think they’re real when they don’t seem to be with reason. Something bad happens you get sad. I get that. That’s not what’s usually the case.
It is hard when you don't know why you feel any certain way, I totally get that feeling. Sometimes I'll have panic attacks and not even understand what the trigger was. It doesn't mean that your emotions aren't real, though. Don't need a reason sometimes.
 

Walker

Admin
SF Social Media
SF Author
SF Supporter
#16
You think it’s less important to understand than to just treat? How do I ask it? Do you think we can treat without understanding?
Maybe that's a bad attitude, right? We want to know WHYYYY things happen. But I think if we were really diving into the "WHHYYYY" of how those chemicals were doing what they do someone could actually explain that to you but neurochemistry is complex and no one here is terribly well versed. (calling @Aurelia and @Ash600 who might be able to take a few minutes and actually give you some real live, down to earth, knowledge on that) Doctors as a whole are just winging it. They know xyz and that's that unless they're so interested they're studying that on the side or they've made that a special interest (which is why I think these two users in particular know more than the average bear).
But yeah, I think you focus on the treatment but if you have an innate need to know the why then you can choose to seek that out. Sure. People are doing that all over the world. But let's seek the treatment concurrently maybe so you can begin to feel better. (I don't know how shit you feel or if you can function to study that or.. what place you're in etc) Learning something new might spark something in you as well. (You said you never "feel" anything in particular. Maybe you're looking for passion and excitement. Some people get that from learning)
 

alixer

We are all one
SF Supporter
#17
It is hard when you don't know why you feel any certain way, I totally get that feeling. Sometimes I'll have panic attacks and not even understand what the trigger was. It doesn't mean that your emotions aren't real, though. Don't need a reason sometimes.
Sorry to hear about your panic attacks. I get them. All day today just 1 big panic attack
 

alixer

We are all one
SF Supporter
#18
Maybe that's a bad attitude, right? We want to know WHYYYY things happen. But I think if we were really diving into the "WHHYYYY" of how those chemicals were doing what they do someone could actually explain that to you but neurochemistry is complex and no one here is terribly well versed. (calling @Aurelia and @Ash600 who might be able to take a few minutes and actually give you some real live, down to earth, knowledge on that) Doctors as a whole are just winging it. They know xyz and that's that unless they're so interested they're studying that on the side or they've made that a special interest (which is why I think these two users in particular know more than the average bear).
But yeah, I think you focus on the treatment but if you have an innate need to know the why then you can choose to seek that out. Sure. People are doing that all over the world. But let's seek the treatment concurrently maybe so you can begin to feel better. (I don't know how shit you feel or if you can function to study that or.. what place you're in etc) Learning something new might spark something in you as well. (You said you never "feel" anything in particular. Maybe you're looking for passion and excitement. Some people get that from learning)
I do feel better when I do something I’m passionate about. But that doesn’t pay the bills. And it’s not just take the good with the bad. I have OCD where a whole day like today can be lost to obsessing that a corner I touched is contaminating everything. I’m sorry. I just feel overwhelmed. Depression, OCD, chronic pain. I don’t know where to begin. And in the absence of understanding I see little hope.
 

Paisley

* * *
SF Artist
SF Supporter
#19
Sorry to hear about your panic attacks. I get them. All day today just 1 big panic attack
I'm sorry to hear about yours as well. Didn't mean to make this about me, was just trying to say I get how frustrating it is when you don't know the cause for intense emotions. I hope you can get some rest and feel a bit better afterwards maybe.
 

JDot

1 Peter 5:7
Forum Pro
SF Supporter
#20
There's that famous quote from Descartes, "I think therefore I am." You could easily change that to "I feel therefore I am." Your sadness is as real as the air you're breathing. And the fact that emotions come from a chemical process doesn't change the fact that it's real. If you experience it, it's real.
 

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