The Evolutionary Grounds for Depression

Depression is an emotional response that has evolved to prevent us from experiencing mentally damaging events, a number of recent studies are starting to suggest.

As pain stops you doing damaging physical things, so low mood stops you doing damaging mental ones—in particular, pursuing unreachable goals. Pursuing such goals is a waste of energy and resources. Therefore […] there is likely to be an evolved mechanism that identifies certain goals as unattainable and inhibits their pursuit.

This ‘evolved mechanism’, it appears, is depression.

As one study showed, mild depression is actually a somewhat healthy response:

Those who experienced mild depressive symptoms could […] disengage more easily from unreachable goals. […] Those who could disengage from the unattainable proved less likely to suffer more serious depression in the long run.

It’s an interesting theory and the negative correlation between mild depression and serious depression later in life is a telling sign that there may be some truth in the theories.

Oh, and the image Intelligent Life is using on the article? A self-portrait of yours truly looking slightly dejected. So head on over and read the article/look at my ugly mug.