Depressed People See the World More Realistically, According To Study

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There is a difference between feeling blue and suffering from depression. While this article isn’t meant to serve as an assessment, diagnosis, or encourager of depression, our mind finds hope and relief in knowing that studies show that depression could just be a different way of looking at the world.

Since we know in psychology that feelings and thoughts aren’t fixed or permanent, they may just be momentary judgments. Those with depression might be able to use their perception of the world to better judge reality. Here’s what we mean.

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Are We Living In Delusion?

Psychology believes that people are not born “depressed” but rather it’s a way that our system copes with the world when it is presented with an overwhelming and upsetting reality. The experiences that lead a person into depression can be looked at as a “reality check” or be considered “proof” by their brain that bad things happen in the world.

woman sitting in front of window overlooking the water
Maria Teneva / Unsplash
Maria Teneva / Unsplash

This concept is known as “depressive realism,” and it suggests that in our normal state, so when we’re not depressed, we operate under happy delusions that lift away when we’re depressed.

What If Depression Takes The Rose-Colored Glasses Off

The idea of depressive realism is that people with depression don’t necessarily have a negative perspective of the world but rather a realistic one. Keep in mind that this is yet to be proven, but according to that theory, depressed people have an ability to see things for how they really are, without optimistic delusions.

woman holding heart shaped pinkglasses and pink lollipop
Zoltan Tasi / Unsplash
Zoltan Tasi / Unsplash

So what if that meant that those with depression are simply walking through the world without rose-colored glasses? After all, according to the National Institute of Mental Health depression affects over 16 million people in the U.S. So is everyone depressed or simply realistic?

Better At Judging Control

The concept of depressive realism started getting attention in a 1979 paper published by L.B. Alloy and L.Y. Abramson. It was based on a research study that compared the behavior ad reaction of people with depression to those without by observing their responses to a button and green light.

blurry photo of man with glasses
Ben Moses / Unsplash
Ben Moses / Unsplash

The participants were asked how much control they had in controlling the light when pushing the button. The results found that those with depression had a much better ability to judge the degree of control. Those without depression overestimated how much control they really had.

A State Of Self Delusion

Theories like this aren’t brand new. A similar theory titled “the terror management theory” have made similar claims.

man pinching up his forehead in confusion
Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash
Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash

The Terror Management claims that human nature is actually wired towards self-deception. So we basically live in a constant state of delusion in order to protect ourselves from what we can’t understand or control and that feels too overwhelming.

A Form Of Survival

We basically live in a state of delusion when it comes to thinking of scary concepts like death and make-up alternative, more hopeful theories that soothe our emotions. The theory would then say that depression is like breaking out of that deception.

woman in domilished home holds up item
Cotton Bro / Pexels
Cotton Bro / Pexels

In fact, “some psychologists concede that an element of self-deception may be necessary for well-being,” explains Colin Feltham, the author of Depressive Realism. Those with depression may just be unable to find the optimism that the rest of us to cope with the harsh realities of the world such as heartache and death. The delusion could just be a means of survival, like living in blissful ignorance.

Up For Intrepration

For now, you’re free to make what you will of this. Depressive realism is “still regarded as a fruitful hypothesis by many, but not all, psychologists,” says Colin Feltham. A number of studies have investigated the theory with mixed results, he says.

woman sits on red lip shaped couch upset with
Brock Wegner / Unsplash
Brock Wegner / Unsplash

Depression also has a lot of harmful effects on the mind and body that should be addressed regardless of what view it helps us to have of the world. The list of effects of depression is long but it includes, lack of sleep, extreme tiredness, loss of energy, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, irritability, sudden weight gain or loss, and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

The Mind Can Be Trained To Cope

If you’re someone who suffers from depression, know that you are not alone nor bound forever to this state of being. Feltham says that introverts, males, and people with high IQs are most likely to suffer from depression. However, he warns that those suffering from major depression are more likely to suffer from larger distortions in their thinking.

hands longing for each other across walls
Toa Heftiba / Unsplash
Toa Heftiba / Unsplash

Effective therapy and meditation can teach us how to cope with depression and even how to overcome it. The mind is trainable and thoughts and feelings can be rewired to have negative thoughts replaced by positive ones while still remaining realistic and present in the here and now. You have the power!

Make The World What You Want It To Be

Always look at in the mirror before yous share your energy with the world and ask yourself: do you love yourself more? Do you feel good in your body?

man holding globe
Be White / Unsplash
Be White / Unsplash

Happiness is more than a smile or instant gratificatio it’s much more than that. If you want to know more on what your birth chart reveals about how you see the world and what you need to feel happy check out this personalized report based on date of birth.