A generation ago, depression was viewed as an unwanted guest: a gloomy presence that might appear in the wake of a loss or a grave disappointment and was slow to find the door. The people it haunted could acknowledge the poor company — I’ve been a little depressed since my father died — without worrying that they had become chronically ill.
Today, the condition has been recast in the medical literature as a darker, more permanent figure, a monster in the basement poised to overtake the psyche. For decades, researchers have debated the various types of depression, from mild to severe to “endogenous,” a rare, near-paralyzing despair. Hundreds of studies have been conducted, looking for markers that might predict the course of depression and identify the best paths to recovery. But treatment largely remains a process of trial and error. A drug that helps one person can make another worse. The same goes for talk therapies: some patients do very well, others don’t respond at all.
“If you got a depression diagnosis, one of the most basic things you want to know is, what are the chances of my life returning to normal or becoming optimal afterward?” said Jonathan Rottenberg, a professor of psychology at the University of South Florida. “You’d assume we’d have an answer to that question. I think it’s embarrassing that we don’t.”
Read the whole story: The New York TimesMore of our Members in the Media >