Is depression a catalyst to creativity? This remains a big question that pops up in the minds of those curious to find out why. Although research has it that the depression cases cuts across not just creatives but also millennials and the older generation, news of youths committing suicide over a long-term depression, reports of depression cases have been reaching all-time high as a matter of fact stats have it that millions of teens in 2015 have or are experiencing depression. However, it would be noteworthy to peruse into the conundrum of why great personalities with brilliant minds supposedly having it all together would suffer from severe depression e.g. Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy and so many others. What’s actually the link? Are we missing something? Is depression actually their secret factor?
More recently, researches and evidences are emerging connecting creative personalities with depression and several other issues of mental health. Whilst this triggers a sense of curiosity, one might necessarily ask, is creativity a blessing laden with curses in disguise? Or does is there something peculiar to the creative personality?
In an attempt to understand or shed light to this puzzle, it would be necessary to step into the world of the creatives, stand in their shoes, view life from their standpoint, perhaps this would give a clue as to the reason this is so.
A common attribute to most creative minds is the ability to ruminate or meditate on thoughts, paying attention to the minutest details. This goes as far into deeply thinking especially on stressful events, the mind wanders on what happened, what should have happened if something was done differently, the implications of the little things that happened on the course of life. Creatives tend to prune into events and replay them repeatedly in their mind to have a better grasp or understanding. This consequently according to Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a psychologist at Yale leads them into a state of hopelessness or intense depression.
Although this process of intense reflection to depression is not just limited to or evident in creatives alone but to every other average human. An average person who deeply reflects on an event, a stressful one specifically, has a high probability of slipping into depression however, such might be in a short period of time unlike one who continually broods on the event which is the case of the creative minds.
The state of depression for a creative person tends to stay longer due to his/her tendency to continue thinking on a stressful event. It has been established that a common trait among creatives is “thinking” hence, it would not be wrong to assert that all that process of thinking would consequently birth several trails of feelings ranging from loneliness, hopelessness to feelings of failure.
Thus, this gives a brighter understanding and some sort of answer as to the case of creatives and depression. We realize that depression is not what really makes one creative rather, the creative mind who continually uses his/her time deeply reflecting or meditate on an event has a high tendency of suffering from severe depression. What invariably makes the creative person stand out in cases of depression is their ability to think more intensely on an event than other personality types.
Furthermore, it might also be important to note that creative minds respond differently to their environment than other personality types. According to Nancy Andreasen, author of “The Creative Brain”, it was pointed out that the flexibility and openness to new experiences of the creative mind also signifies an ambiguous and complex inner world for these personality types. Whilst other personality types that are less creative respond to events or situations based on what had been instructed them by persons in authority, the creative mind finds it difficult to adapt to such situations rather has a much more ambiguous and very fluid approach. Hence the reason for their nature of questioning status quo, deep reflection, pondering and analyzing which often leads them into isolation and often time depression.