The depressed brain justifies itself

When a depressed mind surveys its life, it sees merely a snippet of life and fills in the blanks with hopeless, guilty diatribes on why life has brought it to this point. But how does it commit such villainy?

The brain makes sense of the world. It gathers a little bit of information and integrates it into a grand perception. When you see a room, your eyes scan the room, seeing only a tiny fraction of the details, and then your brain fills in unseen details and builds a crude temporary map. Through this illusion it convinces you that you know something important about the room.

If the room is familiar, it may reward you with a feeling of comfort and security. If the room is unfamiliar, it may instead distract you with a feeling of tense anticipation that something unknown may happen. If the room reminds you of something you’d rather forget, your brain can connect that thought with a feeling that implores you to find an escape. If you enter the room angry, you may see that room as an affront to good taste, cleanliness, or reasonable engineering. Instead of building a perspective that informs your emotions, most often it goes the other way: our emotions build our perspective.

When a depressed mind surveys its life, it sees a small part of life and fills in the blanks with hopeless, guilty interpretations of why life has brought it to this point. Jill was feeling tolerably well today, better than the last two weeks, but an email from her boss asking for more work on her proposal has her wondering if she even has what it takes to do the job. A week later, she can’t shake the feeling that she is inadequate. These perceptions are built spontaneously but they have all the force of thoughts that have been thought for an entire life.

The depressed mind want to justify itself, to make itself true. It surveys the room, then builds a twisted and dark map by filling in the details with shame or apathy.

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