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Community => Life As An Atheist => Topic started by: Amicale on February 20, 2012, 03:27:02 AM

Title: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Amicale on February 20, 2012, 03:27:02 AM
I've wanted to post this thread for a while, but now's as good a time as any. It's just a fact of life that whether we're religious, atheist, or somewhere in between... all of us have roughly the same equal risk of being affected by depression or other mental illnesses/maladies. If we're not clinically depressed (diagnosed), it's still normal for human beings to go through periods of despair, depression, sadness, or just feeling down from time to time.

So, even when we're feeling helpless or alone and we're non-theists... we can't exactly pray and believe anyone'll hear us. We can talk to family and friends or even a counselor, but they might not understand. We can distract ourselves with entertainment or a social event, but the distraction only lasts for a while, even if it's reading something meaningful or listening to some cathartic music. We can eat or drink ourselves into oblivion to numb pain, but that's also only a bandaid solution. We can also distract ourselves by helping others, volunteering our time... and that at least is useful and gives us some meaning and a feeling of connectedness to our communities and families, so it might help our depression also maybe. This last option is the one I generally choose -- put others ahead of myself and do something meaningful for them, because it sometimes helps me to help them when and how I can. Sometimes, though, even that's not enough.

My question for you is: how do you personally as a skeptic deal with this? What do you do to feel better, that doesn't involve "spirituality"? When it comes right down to it, as comforting as it would be to believe that some magical being will take care of everything, I've simply found that's never been the case in my own experience so we're left to deal with everything the best way we know how to.

Please share your coping methods, best practices, preferred things to do etc, if you would.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Dobermonster on February 20, 2012, 03:54:04 AM
Exercise would have to be at the top. With my sort of depression, I accumulate a lot of nervous energy. Being active helps get rid of that, not to mention the endorphin rush from pushing yourself and all the other health benefits. For anyone with depression, I would recommend signing up for a program that will keep you interested, is fun, and focuses on aerobic exercise. Committing to a class gives me motivation I wouldn't otherwise have on the bad days, plus it's also a social activity (socializing with friends and acquaintances seems to help sometimes). Reading about things I find inspiring, watching shows that make me laugh, learning something new. It all sounds very cliche, but it works for me. I mean, medication is really the core for controlling it, but the other stuff matters too.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: statichaos on February 20, 2012, 03:56:00 AM
Meditation can be helpful as well, whether guided or not.  It can be difficult to find ones that don't descend into New Age terminology, but well worth the effort.

There's also the medication and therapy route, of course.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Ali on February 20, 2012, 04:01:36 AM
Zoloft.   ;)

No, here's my thing.  Until late 2010, I had never really dealt with depression.  I've always been a pretty happy, upbeat person.  Then some bad things happened, and I had a hard time coping and got pretty overwhelmed.  Finally, this past August, I went to a doctor, got prescribed Zoloft, and also started talking to a counselor.  For me, I don't really see Zoloft as my long term answer as I am sort of returning to the person I was pre-2010, but it sort of gave me a little bit of space to deal with some of the things I needed to deal with.  Like, the chemical part of depression was only one piece of it, but being able to minimize that piece gave me some breathing room to start to deal with the other parts.  I don't know if you're on anything, I don't even know if anything like that would help you, but it did help me.

Other than that, focusing on the things that I do have (friends, family, career) helps, and trying to keep my sense of humor helps.  I love laughing, and I love anyone who can make me laugh, so surrounding myself with people who make me laugh definitely helps.  Some of the people on this board have actually been really great at that.  Pudding, Asmo, Guardian, En_Route, Tank, you, lots of people, all make me laugh on a regular basis, and that's a shot of hope and happiness right in the arm.  :)
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: The Magic Pudding on February 20, 2012, 06:43:23 AM
No moping allowed round here sad sacks, you haf to be happy.  ;D
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Asmodean on February 20, 2012, 06:47:25 AM
Zoloft.   ;)
This or similar pills with a dash of professional medical help.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Tank on February 20, 2012, 07:06:36 AM
It's difficult to be depressed with these two looking at you.

(https://www.happyatheistforum.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fimg151.imageshack.us%2Fimg151%2F6604%2Fdsc2356.jpg&hash=d2bdce3d6c07fca7b79354edd34d5e965f258575)

(https://www.happyatheistforum.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fimg253.imageshack.us%2Fimg253%2F4839%2Fdsc2380.jpg&hash=38256fb0520963d8cc73a78476bc36ffd74cdf69)

They work in two ways. Just being reliant on me gives me a purpose to think of somebody/something other than myself. They also get me out of the house and walking which does the exercise thing for me to. If I get anxious I will very occasionally resort to a diazapam to break a downward spiral.

In this day and age where expectations of life are so high I think most people end up judging themselves against unachievable media hyped goals. Fractured families and 'tribes' leave people unsupported in ways we simply did not evolve to cope with. Things like being a single mum living in isolation from a family were virtually unheard of. Practical problems like illness and food supply were more of an issue. But as a social animal we have evolved to support others and be supported by others. I think that's why a lot of the things americal mentioned bring one out of depression because they stimulate our social side which probably gets rewarded by a positive brain chemistry.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Sandra Craft on February 20, 2012, 07:28:53 AM
Those dogs are so cute, even if the terrier does have an underbite like a werewolf.

I definitely get the blues from time to time, esp. if I let myself brood about the past, but I deal with it by reminding myself that it's a temporary state.  It'll change soon enough, and it always does.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Asmodean on February 20, 2012, 11:09:31 AM
Yes, small furry objects work too.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: DeterminedJuliet on February 20, 2012, 11:55:43 AM
I take St.John's wort and mega-doses of Vitamin D
It might totally be the "placebo" effect, but there have been some studies that show they help with mild-moderate depression. And it seems to work for me!
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: En_Route on February 20, 2012, 12:01:12 PM
I've suffered intermittently from depression over my life and for most of that time accepted it as an occupational hazard of being me.  It's only recently that I've taken active steps to deal with it. I do find the practice of mindfulness has been very helpful.I probably would have dismissed it as into-the-mystic new-agery but for the fact that it has been integrated into CBT and its benefits are backed by neuroscience. My experience of mindfulness has led me to explore Buddhism which seems to me to contain a lot of worthwhile and elevating insights and some of whose tenets I'd more-or-less already arrived at independently.I don't buy into it completely and certainly not the supernatural trappings, but these are not integral to it central propositions.  Indeed Buddha cautioned anyone against taking any teachings on trust,including his own. Itself a refreshing change from the arm-twisting certitudes of other spiritual frontmen.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Asmodean on February 20, 2012, 12:19:45 PM
It's not unimportant to note that depression and depression are two different things. If the kind one has is due to chemical imbalance, wishing or placeboing it away probably won't do shit.

If, on the other hand, one is just generally down because of the weather, economy, love life and/or you-name-it, then happy pills may be too much.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: En_Route on February 20, 2012, 01:22:13 PM
It's not unimportant to note that depression and depression are two different things. If the kind one has is due to chemical imbalance, wishing or placeboing it away probably won't do shit.

If, on the other hand, one is just generally down because of the weather, economy, love life and/or you-name-it, then happy pills may be too much.

I think the idea that you may be condemned to depression by your genes and that the only way of mitigating this is through (presumably lifelong) medication is not accurate.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Asmodean on February 20, 2012, 01:26:42 PM
It's not unimportant to note that depression and depression are two different things. If the kind one has is due to chemical imbalance, wishing or placeboing it away probably won't do shit.

If, on the other hand, one is just generally down because of the weather, economy, love life and/or you-name-it, then happy pills may be too much.

I think the idea that you may be condemned to depression by your genes and that the only way of mitigating this is through (presumably lifelong) medication is not accurate.
No more condemned than to having the eye color you do. A persistent chemical imbalance is... A persistent chemical imbalance.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: En_Route on February 20, 2012, 02:20:56 PM
It's not unimportant to note that depression and depression are two different things. If the kind one has is due to chemical imbalance, wishing or placeboing it away probably won't do shit.

If, on the other hand, one is just generally down because of the weather, economy, love life and/or you-name-it, then happy pills may be too much.

I think the idea that you may be condemned to depression by your genes and that the only way of mitigating this is through (presumably lifelong) medication is not accurate.
No more condemned than to having the eye color you do. A persistent chemical imbalance is... A persistent chemical imbalance.

A persistent chemical imbalance is...something for which there is no conclusive evidence. Nor any reason to suppose that if it did exist that either it would prove to be the sole cause of endogenous depression nor that the only way to treat it would be medication on a lifelong basis.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Asmodean on February 20, 2012, 02:32:30 PM
A persistent chemical imbalance is...something for which there is no conclusive evidence. Nor any reason to suppose that if it did exist that either it would prove to be the sole cause of endogenous depression nor that the only way to treat it would be medication on a lifelong basis.
Fair enough, I suppose. But then, I'm not a medical professional.

As long as them pills work, however, why not eat them?
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: The Magic Pudding on February 20, 2012, 02:36:28 PM
If, on the other hand, one is just generally down because of the weather, economy, love life and/or you-name-it, then happy pills may be too much.

Being down because of the weather is tied up with a chemical imbalance/deficiency, as Juliet is attempting to remedy with her vitamin D.  Ye I know you know everyone knows, just felt like saying it.

I haven't been seriously down for quite a while, haven't been weighing the pros or cons of the various outs for some years.  I seem to be able to stomp on anxiety before it takes grip.  Melancholy defined as thoughtful sadness seems a reasonable state to spend a chunk of my time in.  Happiness gurus are dangerous, floating in carefree bubbles is best left to dreams, then the sudden fall wakes, it doesn't break.  Ye, I'm doing OK.  Sadness, ah ye well I know people drown in it but if you can relax and float with it, things are more.  It makes the bouncy times bouncier.

Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: En_Route on February 20, 2012, 02:52:55 PM
A persistent chemical imbalance is...something for which there is no conclusive evidence. Nor any reason to suppose that if it did exist that either it would prove to be the sole cause of endogenous depression nor that the only way to treat it would be medication on a lifelong basis.
Fair enough, I suppose. But then, I'm not a medical professional.

As long as them pills work, however, why not eat them?

Because they often don't work that well (or at all) or only for a while and in some cases have undesirable side-effects. They can help in giving a lift to seriously-depressed people and  thus allowing them to explore other means of regaining full mental health.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Ali on February 20, 2012, 05:09:03 PM
A persistent chemical imbalance is...something for which there is no conclusive evidence. Nor any reason to suppose that if it did exist that either it would prove to be the sole cause of endogenous depression nor that the only way to treat it would be medication on a lifelong basis.
Fair enough, I suppose. But then, I'm not a medical professional.

As long as them pills work, however, why not eat them?

Because they often don't work that well (or at all) or only for a while and in some cases have undesirable side-effects. They can help in giving a lift to seriously-depressed people and  thus allowing them to explore other means of regaining full mental health.

This is the big use I see with them.  I think that there are a lot of things that people can often do to improve their mental state (exercise, self care, talking to a counselor, spending time on hobbies, et cetera) but once you're in that hole, it feels next to impossible to begin those things.  That's what I meant by the Zoloft giving me space to work ion the other pieces of it.  When I was at my worst, it seems like there was no way to work up the energy to even start to do the sorts of things that would help me feel more healthy.  Zoloft didn't prevent me from feeling sad or angry, but it did give me enough of a respite to be able to get out of bed in the mornings and start putting myself back together.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Crow on February 20, 2012, 05:33:46 PM
I'm actually surprised at how common depression is (1 in 5 among older people in the UK) as people must do a very good job at hiding the fact that they are feeling in such a way. I have yet to feel depressed even with some rather nasty things that have happened to me but its a totally alien emotional state to me.

Here is an article on dealing with depression, I have no idea if any of it will help but it covers some areas that have been mentioned here, I sincerely hope that some of it might work for you. Dealing with Depression - Self-help and Coping Tips (http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm).
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Siz on February 20, 2012, 06:43:32 PM
Do y'all think that there is any evolutionary advantage in depression? Would this not have been weeded out long ago? Or do you consider that it is an unfortunate bi-product of self awareness (like Dawkins' religious requirement conjecture)?

If it is a chemical imbalance, then why has it not been balanced by evolution? OR, what is causing that imbalance in todays lifestyles?
If it is a purely psychological affliction then this must surely also be socially acquired.

I, like Crow, have no experience of this debilitating affliction. There is no known history of this in my family (which might be a clue in itself) (psychotic WWII grandparents aside) - I guess I've been lucky to avoid the misery of shit-happening (and shit has certainly happened!) - or maybe I have a natural imunity - or maybe I'm just not that kind of personality - or maybe I'm not sufficiently in touch with my emotions for it to affect me.

I certainly don't claim to understand it in any way. I just thought the above might be worth exploring by any of you guys who know something about the subject. I shall be reading with interest.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: DeterminedJuliet on February 20, 2012, 06:53:18 PM
Do y'all think that there is any evolutionary advantage in depression? Would this not have been weeded out long ago? Or do you consider that it is an unfortunate bi-product of self awareness (like Dawkins' religious requirement conjecture)?

I remember reading recently that there appears to be a link between creativity and being bi-polar.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Ali on February 20, 2012, 07:05:00 PM
With mine, it was easy enough to understand the chemical piece behind it, as well as the social.  I don't know about the evolutionary processes behind it, but I went through some huge hormonal upheavals in the course of 8 months, so it's not really any wonder I got out of whack.  Kind of like having PPD. 
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: DeterminedJuliet on February 20, 2012, 10:17:16 PM
With mine, it was easy enough to understand the chemical piece behind it, as well as the social.  I don't know about the evolutionary processes behind it, but I went through some huge hormonal upheavals in the course of 8 months, so it's not really any wonder I got out of whack.  Kind of like having PPD. 

PPD is horrible and I'm convinced it's one of those "side-effect" things that have no evolutionary purpose.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Ali on February 20, 2012, 10:58:59 PM
With mine, it was easy enough to understand the chemical piece behind it, as well as the social.  I don't know about the evolutionary processes behind it, but I went through some huge hormonal upheavals in the course of 8 months, so it's not really any wonder I got out of whack.  Kind of like having PPD. 

PPD is horrible and I'm convinced it's one of those "side-effect" things that have no evolutionary purpose.

Yes, I can't imagine what purpose it would serve. 
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: En_Route on February 21, 2012, 12:03:35 AM
With mine, it was easy enough to understand the chemical piece behind it, as well as the social.  I don't know about the evolutionary processes behind it, but I went through some huge hormonal upheavals in the course of 8 months, so it's not really any wonder I got out of whack.  Kind of like having PPD. 

PPD is horrible and I'm convinced it's one of those "side-effect" things that have no evolutionary purpose.

Yes, I can't imagine what purpose it would serve. 


If I could gently remind you- evolution has no purpose. That there is theist talk, which it is our unflagging endeavour to expose and rebut.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Sandra Craft on February 21, 2012, 12:06:32 AM
With mine, it was easy enough to understand the chemical piece behind it, as well as the social.  I don't know about the evolutionary processes behind it, but I went through some huge hormonal upheavals in the course of 8 months, so it's not really any wonder I got out of whack.  Kind of like having PPD. 

PPD is horrible and I'm convinced it's one of those "side-effect" things that have no evolutionary purpose.

Yes, I can't imagine what purpose it would serve. 


If I could gently remind you- evolution has no purpose. That there is theist talk, which it is our unflagging endeavour to expose and rebut.

How about "advantage" then?  What would be the evolutionary advantage of it.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Ali on February 21, 2012, 12:15:35 AM
With mine, it was easy enough to understand the chemical piece behind it, as well as the social.  I don't know about the evolutionary processes behind it, but I went through some huge hormonal upheavals in the course of 8 months, so it's not really any wonder I got out of whack.  Kind of like having PPD. 

PPD is horrible and I'm convinced it's one of those "side-effect" things that have no evolutionary purpose.

Yes, I can't imagine what purpose it would serve. 


If I could gently remind you- evolution has no purpose. That there is theist talk, which it is our unflagging endeavour to expose and rebut.

How about "advantage" then?  What would be the evolutionary advantage of it.

Yes, or to put it another way, you would think that women pre-disposed to PPD would be less likely to pass that on, as their babies would have historically had more challenges to survival.  PPD can make it that much harder for women to care for their newborns, which in turn would have made it that much easier for their newborns to fail to thrive.  So from an evolutionary standpoint, it seems PPD would be a disadvantage, rather than an advantage.  Better?
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: DeterminedJuliet on February 21, 2012, 12:17:48 AM
With mine, it was easy enough to understand the chemical piece behind it, as well as the social.  I don't know about the evolutionary processes behind it, but I went through some huge hormonal upheavals in the course of 8 months, so it's not really any wonder I got out of whack.  Kind of like having PPD.  

PPD is horrible and I'm convinced it's one of those "side-effect" things that have no evolutionary purpose.

Yes, I can't imagine what purpose it would serve.  


If I could gently remind you- evolution has no purpose. That there is theist talk, which it is our unflagging endeavour to expose and rebut.

Yes, purpose was a poorly chosen word. "Function" would probably be better.  Edit: As Ali explained.

I don't think anyone who used it in this context meant it in a theistic "evolution is guided by the hand of God" kind of way.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Tristan Jay on February 21, 2012, 12:19:04 AM
Where I'm coming from, I'm a skeptic in the sense that I don't believe that God is good, or worthy of praise.  And of course I have depression.  And there are a few things I do to cope in life.

For starters, I'll drink other people's coffee.  It doesn't cost anything (generally) and you don't have to bother with making it.  Meow!

I swing dance.  This is something of a small miracle, given that I could just as easily allowed myself to sink into reclusion, afraid of social situations.  The swing dancing scene is fairly easy for me to cope with, once I got the hang of it; the rules of etiquette are pretty straightforward, and the people are nice (or secretly as damaged as I am).  It's good social practice, makes me feel more comfortable in social situations and consequently helps my confidence.  The actual dancing is aerobic in nature, so it doubles as exercise.

I remind myself to be grateful for opportunities to substitute teach; even though I'm not a fully accredited teacher I still find the work that I do get a chance to do very rewarding.

And yes the basic idea of focusing on the happiness of others brings it's own satisfaction; helping others through their difficulties is way more productive than moping about personal difficulties (I'm not above a well earned mope if circumstances get ridiculous tough, but I know that there's something to move on to eventually).

Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: En_Route on February 21, 2012, 12:26:19 AM
With mine, it was easy enough to understand the chemical piece behind it, as well as the social.  I don't know about the evolutionary processes behind it, but I went through some huge hormonal upheavals in the course of 8 months, so it's not really any wonder I got out of whack.  Kind of like having PPD.  

PPD is horrible and I'm convinced it's one of those "side-effect" things that have no evolutionary purpose.

Yes, I can't imagine what purpose it would serve.  


If I could gently remind you- evolution has no purpose. That there is theist talk, which it is our unflagging endeavour to expose and rebut.

Yes, purpose was a poorly chosen word. "Function" would probably be better.  Edit: As Ali explained.

I don't think anyone who used it in this context meant it in a theistic "evolution is guided by the hand of God" kind of way.


Evolution is a blind watchmaker.No aspect of our being serves an evolutionary function. Evolution determines  how we function. Sorry to be so snotty but I think the distinction matters.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Sandra Craft on February 21, 2012, 12:41:44 AM
Yes, or to put it another way, you would think that women pre-disposed to PPD would be less likely to pass that on, as their babies would have historically had more challenges to survival.  PPD can make it that much harder for women to care for their newborns, which in turn would have made it that much easier for their newborns to fail to thrive.  So from an evolutionary standpoint, it seems PPD would be a disadvantage, rather than an advantage.  Better?

So maybe this is a recent thing, something that was free to crop up only at a time or in places where women had other resources to care for newborns?  Or maybe it's the flip side of that, it's always existed but is only now becoming obvious in places where extended families are no longer common and women lack other resouces in caring for newborns?
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: DeterminedJuliet on February 21, 2012, 01:00:27 AM
With mine, it was easy enough to understand the chemical piece behind it, as well as the social.  I don't know about the evolutionary processes behind it, but I went through some huge hormonal upheavals in the course of 8 months, so it's not really any wonder I got out of whack.  Kind of like having PPD.  

PPD is horrible and I'm convinced it's one of those "side-effect" things that have no evolutionary purpose.

Yes, I can't imagine what purpose it would serve.  


If I could gently remind you- evolution has no purpose. That there is theist talk, which it is our unflagging endeavour to expose and rebut.

Yes, purpose was a poorly chosen word. "Function" would probably be better.  Edit: As Ali explained.

I don't think anyone who used it in this context meant it in a theistic "evolution is guided by the hand of God" kind of way.


Evolution is a blind watchmaker.No aspect of our being serves an evolutionary function. Evolution determines  how we function. Sorry to be so snotty but I think the distinction matters.

You are splitting hairs. I meant that some "attributes" are more functionally related to evolution than not. My ability to have a baby is more evolutionarily functional than my ability to grow an appendix. So yes, you are being a bit snotty when everyone here agrees that the intentions behind the related comments were generally understood.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: DeterminedJuliet on February 21, 2012, 01:19:43 AM
Yes, or to put it another way, you would think that women pre-disposed to PPD would be less likely to pass that on, as their babies would have historically had more challenges to survival.  PPD can make it that much harder for women to care for their newborns, which in turn would have made it that much easier for their newborns to fail to thrive.  So from an evolutionary standpoint, it seems PPD would be a disadvantage, rather than an advantage.  Better?

So maybe this is a recent thing, something that was free to crop up only at a time or in places where women had other resources to care for newborns?  Or maybe it's the flip side of that, it's always existed but is only now becoming obvious in places where extended families are no longer common and women lack other resouces in caring for newborns?

I read an interesting article the other day (I wish I could remember where) about the existence of post-partum psychosis throughout history and different cultures. Many cultures have some form of "demon" allegedly responsible for harassing new mothers; the author was arguing that this was an example of how societies that didn't know what post-partum depression or pyschosis was came to deal with/understand it. Considering the fact that post-partum pyschosis can lead women to literally see demons, this makes a lot of sense.

I do also think the rise of the "nuclear" family has a lot to do with how PPD manifests. I think it's probably always been around in one form or another, but it's easier for a kin group to "absorb" any problems that might arise vs. one or two parents relatively on their own.
 
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Ali on February 21, 2012, 01:45:27 AM
I agree ^^  I live 9 houses down from my parents ad I was still almost entirely on my own when T was born because that's the expectation, that the new family needs "some time to themselves."  Which in my experience means "stay awake as long as it takes because you're the only one in the house that can breastfeed the new baby."
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Amicale on February 21, 2012, 02:07:00 AM
I haven't commented yet because I've just appreciated reading everyone's responses, so far.

For those who talked about medication: yes, it certainly can and does help you to just be able to function enough to want to do other things that might also help your depression, such as exercise, joining a social group, etc. My own issue with depression is pretty specific but it's also 'different' enough that I wouldn't mention it on a public forum per se, but let's just say aside from the depression there are a few other factors involved that make it difficult enough to function sometimes, or to join a regular social group in public, etc. Exercise definitely does help, and I've got home exercise stuff that works decently. I also love going outside on good days. Sunshine's wonderful, getting more of that Vit D really helps also. :) And one thing I try and make myself do is be silly or goof off -- I never FEEL like doing it, but I love making others laugh or smile, so I try to spend time with family and friends and joke, laugh, enjoy company when I can manage it.

I've never had PPD, and I can imagine that's really difficult, to be caring for an infant (or older children as well, at the same time) and to have to deal with it. My hats off to the strong, stubborn mommies here who kept going and didn't give up. :) It inspires me to deal with my own issues the best way I can while I also try to raise my little girl.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Ali on February 21, 2012, 02:40:01 AM
Amicale - You are wonderful and funny, and I hate that you are in pain.  Many, many hugs.  

Love,
Your friend, Ali

Edited because having that much personal info out there for the world to see is painful and embarrassing. 
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Tank on February 21, 2012, 09:51:49 AM
With mine, it was easy enough to understand the chemical piece behind it, as well as the social.  I don't know about the evolutionary processes behind it, but I went through some huge hormonal upheavals in the course of 8 months, so it's not really any wonder I got out of whack.  Kind of like having PPD. 

PPD is horrible and I'm convinced it's one of those "side-effect" things that have no evolutionary purpose.

Yes, I can't imagine what purpose it would serve. 


If I could gently remind you- evolution has no purpose. That there is theist talk, which it is our unflagging endeavour to expose and rebut.
I agree that evolution has no purpose, as in a target or goal. However natural selection forever passively shapes the gene pool towards the traits of those individual organisms that have successfully reproduced. Now in the case of the vast majority of organisms successful reproduction can be considered the production of a seed or egg that will never again require input of effort from its parents/progenitors.

But in the case of that minority of organisms that provide any type of care to their offspring successful reproduction includes the successful completion of the nurturing stage over and above the birth of the organism. I think humans have by far the longest nurturing stage of any organism on the planet. Our nurturing behaviours are selected for and as such do have a purpose in that they allow successful reproduction; where reproduction is producing an offspring that can survive long enough to reach reproductive maturity.

I would contend that in the case of humans simply giving birth to a child is not successful reproduction. It is not until that child has themselves reproduced that the total reproductive cycle can be considered successful.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Siz on February 21, 2012, 01:00:36 PM
Yes, or to put it another way, you would think that women pre-disposed to PPD would be less likely to pass that on, as their babies would have historically had more challenges to survival.  PPD can make it that much harder for women to care for their newborns, which in turn would have made it that much easier for their newborns to fail to thrive.  So from an evolutionary standpoint, it seems PPD would be a disadvantage, rather than an advantage.  Better?

There are theories that suggest that a parent with a particular mental disposition will inadvertently 'programme' their children in such a way as to predispose them to the same mental make-up. Similar to the cycle of child abuse whereby abused children often go on to abuse others. This can be very subtle, but perpetuates nonetheless.

I read a book called 'They F**k you up' which is a blameless analysis of this process, not just about disorders, but mainly about character traits - both good and bad - which are passed on unconsciously down the generations. I'd very much recommend it for those people who are keen (like me) to understand their own mental idiosyncracies. It was extremely useful for me in understanding how and why I act and react in certain ways with my own children - it answered a lot! (the effects of an unyielding mother and an emotionless father - traits I have inherited and which I strive to mitigate). Some other issues are much more subtle and intricate, but nonetheless evident and obvious on investigation.

So, these seemingly disadvantageous flaws could consequently be seen to be just an unfortunate bi-product of the human condition. And the lines that historically prospered are the ones with the least detrimental of them. In days gone by, the children of afflicted parents would not prosper to themselves perpetuate the malfunction, but with medical/social intervention today the engrams continue and thrive - hence an increase in cases of mental dysfunction.

...Maybe...
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Amicale on February 21, 2012, 06:33:58 PM
Amicale - You are wonderful and funny, and I hate that you are in pain.  Many, many hugs.  

Love,
Your friend, Ali

Edited because having that much personal info out there for the world to see is painful and embarrassing. 

Ali, thanks. *hugs back* you're wonderful and funny too, and I'm really glad I'm here on this forum and that I met you and several others here.

I did read your post before it was edited, I just couldn't respond then. PM me anytime, if you'd like to talk. I've 'been there'.

Your friend, Amicale
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: En_Route on February 21, 2012, 07:08:47 PM
With mine, it was easy enough to understand the chemical piece behind it, as well as the social.  I don't know about the evolutionary processes behind it, but I went through some huge hormonal upheavals in the course of 8 months, so it's not really any wonder I got out of whack.  Kind of like having PPD. 

PPD is horrible and I'm convinced it's one of those "side-effect" things that have no evolutionary purpose.

Yes, I can't imagine what purpose it would serve. 


If I could gently remind you- evolution has no purpose. That there is theist talk, which it is our unflagging endeavour to expose and rebut.
I agree that evolution has no purpose, as in a target or goal. However natural selection forever passively shapes the gene pool towards the traits of those individual organisms that have successfully reproduced. Now in the case of the vast majority of organisms successful reproduction can be considered the production of a seed or egg that will never again require input of effort from its parents/progenitors.

But in the case of that minority of organisms that provide any type of care to their offspring successful reproduction includes the successful completion of the nurturing stage over and above the birth of the organism. I think humans have by far the longest nurturing stage of any organism on the planet. Our nurturing behaviours are selected for and as such do have a purpose in that they allow successful reproduction; where reproduction is producing an offspring that can survive long enough to reach reproductive maturity.

I would contend that in the case of humans simply giving birth to a child is not successful reproduction. It is not until that child has themselves reproduced that the total reproductive cycle can be considered successful.

Our nurturing behaviours don't serve any purpose; they are adaptive, no more or less.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: En_Route on February 21, 2012, 07:13:52 PM
With mine, it was easy enough to understand the chemical piece behind it, as well as the social.  I don't know about the evolutionary processes behind it, but I went through some huge hormonal upheavals in the course of 8 months, so it's not really any wonder I got out of whack.  Kind of like having PPD.  

PPD is horrible and I'm convinced it's one of those "side-effect" things that have no evolutionary purpose.

Yes, I can't imagine what purpose it would serve.  


If I could gently remind you- evolution has no purpose. That there is theist talk, which it is our unflagging endeavour to expose and rebut.

Yes, purpose was a poorly chosen word. "Function" would probably be better.  Edit: As Ali explained.

I don't think anyone who used it in this context meant it in a theistic "evolution is guided by the hand of God" kind of way.


Evolution is a blind watchmaker.No aspect of our being serves an evolutionary function. Evolution determines  how we function. Sorry to be so snotty but I think the distinction matters.

You are splitting hairs. I meant that some "attributes" are more functionally related to evolution than not. My ability to have a baby is more evolutionarily functional than my ability to grow an appendix. So yes, you are being a bit snotty when everyone here agrees that the intentions behind the related comments were generally understood.

One woman's hair-splitting is another man's  linguistic precision.
I really don't know what "evolutionarily functional" means. I'm also at a loss how you are so confident that "everyone"agrees with you.Did they write to you?
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: DeterminedJuliet on February 21, 2012, 07:16:06 PM
pur·pose/ˈpərpəs/
Noun:   
The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. (my emphasis)

Nurturing behaviour exists because it is a trait perpetuated by natural selection. I think you are quibbling about semantics, really.

Edit: Oh, I see, it is your intent to quibble. Very good then. And yes, everyone wrote me a "Dear DJ, We all agree with you! Well done!" letter. They're secret though, so I can't show you.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: DeterminedJuliet on February 21, 2012, 07:26:36 PM
Regarding your inquiry as to what "evolutionarily functional" means:

Definition for evolutionarily:
in an evolutionary way; from an evolutionary point of view; "the mutation has been evolutionarily successful".

Definition for func·tion·al/ˈfəNGkSHənl/
Adjective:   
Of or having a special activity, purpose, or task; relating to the way in which something works or operates.

Structural functionalism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structural_functionalism) is a valid methodology and isn't something I just "made up". Granted, it's generally used within the social sciences, but denying that function has anything to do with evolution seems silly to me.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: DeterminedJuliet on February 21, 2012, 07:34:49 PM
Never mind the fact that your choice to enforce your "linguistic precision" in a thread that is supposed to be about depression, especially when members of our community are giving personal accounts of their difficulties, leaves a little tact to be desired.

Edit: I apologise for the multiple posts and I promise I won't derail any more. Maybe En_route and I should start a separate thread. Sorry everyone.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: En_Route on February 21, 2012, 07:43:05 PM
pur·pose/ˈpərpəs/
Noun:   
The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. (my emphasis)

Nurturing behaviour exists because it is a trait perpetuated by natural selection. I think you are quibbling about semantics, really.

Edit: Oh, I see, it is your intent to quibble. Very good then. And yes, everyone wrote me a "Dear DJ, We all agree with you! Well done!" letter. They're secret though, so I can't show you.

I think it is actually more than a matter of pedantry (But I would say that, wouldn't I?). So what is the "reason for which" nurturing behaviour was "done or created" or "the reason for which it exists"?
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: En_Route on February 21, 2012, 07:49:32 PM
Never mind the fact that your choice to enforce your "linguistic precision" in a thread that is supposed to be about depression, especially when members of our community are giving personal accounts of their difficulties, leaves a little tact to be desired.

Edit: I apologise for the multiple posts and I promise I won't derail any more. Maybe En_route and I should start a separate thread. Sorry everyone.

A separate thread to house this important controversy would seem fitting. It's difficult to avoid being diverted into these discursive tributaries.In fairness to me (and I am always scrupulously fair in that direction) I was one of those who have contributed to the main stream of the discussion here.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Dobermonster on February 22, 2012, 01:21:43 AM
Still on topic, but with the evolutionary aspect in mind . . .

This is just a theory of mine, but I've often wondered if the rise in psychiatric illness, especially depression, has to do with the lack of natural selection in our species. I know it's still exists to a certain extent (mostly in-utero), but we have definitely done a great job of keeping people with depression (and other illnesses) alive and procreating. This is a good thing. But it might also be the reason why more people need treatment for it. I've always thought of my illness as a sort of evolutionary roadblock - that is, if it had been allowed to continue unchecked, my brain might have killed me before I had the chance to pass on my genes. Of course, there are a slew of other reasons why it's on the rise statistically as well - environmental factors, better diagnostics, and increased awareness and encouragement to seek treatment.

On another note, has anyone had, or known someone who had, ECT with good results? It's something I may try in the future, as I don't wish to take medication for the rest of my life.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Tank on February 22, 2012, 07:44:12 AM
With mine, it was easy enough to understand the chemical piece behind it, as well as the social.  I don't know about the evolutionary processes behind it, but I went through some huge hormonal upheavals in the course of 8 months, so it's not really any wonder I got out of whack.  Kind of like having PPD. 

PPD is horrible and I'm convinced it's one of those "side-effect" things that have no evolutionary purpose.

Yes, I can't imagine what purpose it would serve. 


If I could gently remind you- evolution has no purpose. That there is theist talk, which it is our unflagging endeavour to expose and rebut.
I agree that evolution has no purpose, as in a target or goal. However natural selection forever passively shapes the gene pool towards the traits of those individual organisms that have successfully reproduced. Now in the case of the vast majority of organisms successful reproduction can be considered the production of a seed or egg that will never again require input of effort from its parents/progenitors.

But in the case of that minority of organisms that provide any type of care to their offspring successful reproduction includes the successful completion of the nurturing stage over and above the birth of the organism. I think humans have by far the longest nurturing stage of any organism on the planet. Our nurturing behaviours are selected for and as such do have a purpose in that they allow successful reproduction; where reproduction is producing an offspring that can survive long enough to reach reproductive maturity.

I would contend that in the case of humans simply giving birth to a child is not successful reproduction. It is not until that child has themselves reproduced that the total reproductive cycle can be considered successful.

Our nurturing behaviours don't serve any purpose; they are adaptive, no more or less.

We're getting into a nit picking semantic argument that is being limited, not enhanced, by the language available. In one sense you are right. But it's an accountants answer 'Accurate, but meaningless.'

Nurturing behaviours facilitate survival. That is their 'purpose' but they are adaptive in that they have been selected for.

Wittgenstein would have loved this discussion.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: En_Route on February 22, 2012, 02:45:18 PM
From an evolutionary psychological perspective certain behaviours have been the subject of natural selection. If we accept this conceptual frramework, we can  seek to explain how they have come about. But we cannot say they possess any purpose.The behaviours themselves are natural phenomena so are incapable of having any intentionality; there is no intelligent (or unintelligent) designer behind the scenes to whom one can attribute a purpose. The best discussion of the teleological fallacy is to be found in Searle's "Construction of Social Reality".
The idea that our behaviours exist in order to facilitate some greater end is a  fundamental misconception, redolent of the confusion generated by Dawkin's coining of the term "Selfish Gene" which although clearly a metaphor lends itself to being taken literally.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Tank on February 22, 2012, 02:48:16 PM
From an evolutionary psychological perspective certain behaviours have been the subject of natural selection. If we accept this conceptual frramework, we can  seek to explain how they have come about. But we cannot say they possess any purpose.The behaviours themselves are natural phenomena so are incapable of having any intentionality; there is no intelligent (or unintelligent) designer behind the scenes to whom one can attribute a purpose. The best discussion of the teleological fallacy is to be found in Searle's "Construction of Social Reality".
The idea that our behaviours exist in order to facilitate some greater end is a  fundamental misconception, redolent of the confusion generated by Dawkin's coining of the term "Selfish Gene" which although clearly a metaphor lends itself to being taken literally.
I agree with this completely. Glad you got what I was saying in the end  ;) :D
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: En_Route on February 22, 2012, 03:01:56 PM
Thanks for being so patient with me.*


*Please relocate instantly to Flattery Thread.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Dobermonster on February 22, 2012, 05:44:04 PM
An argument resolved through reasonable discussion? Am I still on the internetz?

 ;)
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Davin on February 22, 2012, 05:46:08 PM
An argument resolved through reasonable discussion? Am I still on the internetz?

 ;)
Relax, it's still very rare. :D
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Tank on February 22, 2012, 06:40:27 PM
An argument resolved through reasonable discussion? Am I still on the internetz?

 ;)
Yes, but a very special part of it!
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: En_Route on February 22, 2012, 09:59:49 PM
An argument resolved through reasonable discussion? Am I still on the internetz?

 ;)

Yes, but not as we know it.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: DeterminedJuliet on February 22, 2012, 11:04:54 PM
From an evolutionary psychological perspective certain behaviours have been the subject of natural selection. If we accept this conceptual frramework, we can  seek to explain how they have come about. But we cannot say they possess any purpose.The behaviours themselves are natural phenomena so are incapable of having any intentionality; there is no intelligent (or unintelligent) designer behind the scenes to whom one can attribute a purpose. The best discussion of the teleological fallacy is to be found in Searle's "Construction of Social Reality".
The idea that our behaviours exist in order to facilitate some greater end is a  fundamental misconception, redolent of the confusion generated by Dawkin's coining of the term "Selfish Gene" which although clearly a metaphor lends itself to being taken literally.
I agree with this completely. Glad you got what I was saying in the end  ;) :D

I also totally agree with this.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Xiilent on February 23, 2012, 12:21:45 AM
When i feel down, i generally listen to music that somewhat fits my situation. It's nice to know that someone else has been through the situations i've been through. That being said, i rarely get in a down mood anyways. I sometimes drink but that's not always to help me feel better when i'm down but to just feel better in general. Going out with friends usually always makes things better no matter what we do. I'm the type that in person would rather listen than talk, but just being around people usually helps. But like i said, i rarely get down in the dumps. There's not really a reason to get down xD you gotta live and love life while you've got it.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Amicale on February 23, 2012, 01:14:24 AM
When i feel down, i generally listen to music that somewhat fits my situation. It's nice to know that someone else has been through the situations i've been through. That being said, i rarely get in a down mood anyways. I sometimes drink but that's not always to help me feel better when i'm down but to just feel better in general. Going out with friends usually always makes things better no matter what we do. I'm the type that in person would rather listen than talk, but just being around people usually helps. But like i said, i rarely get down in the dumps. There's not really a reason to get down xD you gotta live and love life while you've got it.

Thanks for sharing, Xilient. :) Like you, I'd rather listen than talk (which may surprise some here, considering how much I post, lol) but I know what you mean when you say being around others helps. Although it's true there isn't always a 'reason' to be down, having chemical imbalances/psychiatric issues is something that sometimes gets in the way of always loving life. I do my best though. One day at a time, and I try to look for the good in every day, if I can. I bet a lot of us do that. :)
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Xiilent on February 23, 2012, 01:34:11 AM

Thanks for sharing, Xilient. :) Like you, I'd rather listen than talk (which may surprise some here, considering how much I post, lol) but I know what you mean when you say being around others helps. Although it's true there isn't always a 'reason' to be down, having chemical imbalances/psychiatric issues is something that sometimes gets in the way of always loving life. I do my best though. One day at a time, and I try to look for the good in every day, if I can. I bet a lot of us do that. :)

Exactly =) we always have to look for the good things cause that's what we are given. I do understand we do have chemical imbalances but that is something a lot of us go through, but we have people that have gone through the same thing to help us. As long as we are optimistic, we are unstoppable. Even with a chemical imbalance, i still believe all of us have a great outlook on life. Those that are feeling depressed just need to hop on here and get some encouragement by people who really care =P (even if we don't know eachother in real life, we still have a bond)
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Beachdragon on February 23, 2012, 05:54:14 PM
Zoloft.   ;)
This or similar pills with a dash of professional medical help.
Same with me.  I still get down, but now I have the tools to get me through it more easily.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Truthseeker on February 27, 2012, 02:05:35 PM
Amicale,

I really do not have much more to add that has not already been touched on other than that my heart goes out to you.  I think there is a lot about depression that we still do not understand.  Cling to those that love and care for you.  Hang tight.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: En_Route on February 27, 2012, 04:01:11 PM
From an evolutionary psychological perspective certain behaviours have been the subject of natural selection. If we accept this conceptual frramework, we can  seek to explain how they have come about. But we cannot say they possess any purpose.The behaviours themselves are natural phenomena so are incapable of having any intentionality; there is no intelligent (or unintelligent) designer behind the scenes to whom one can attribute a purpose. The best discussion of the teleological fallacy is to be found in Searle's "Construction of Social Reality".
The idea that our behaviours exist in order to facilitate some greater end is a  fundamental misconception, redolent of the confusion generated by Dawkin's coining of the term "Selfish Gene" which although clearly a metaphor lends itself to being taken literally.
I agree with this completely. Glad you got what I was saying in the end  ;) :D

I also totally agree with this.

Good to be ad idem.
Title: Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
Post by: Dobermonster on February 29, 2012, 09:13:28 PM
Found this clip that talks briefly about anxiety disorders and evolution. Made me feel better about it, anyways.