The Department of Psychology, Education and Physical Education at the Faculty of Humanities (FH), Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU), organized on February 6, 2018, a presentation titled, “Is Depression Useful? An Evolutionary Approach to Mood Disorders,” presented by Dr. Elio Sassine, a psychiatrist who works with mentally-traumatized victims of war.
Assistant Professor at NDU Dr. Patricia Eid introduced Dr. Sassine, who began with a brief overview of the burden of depression. According to studies, depression is a common mental disorder found in every culture and reported since antiquity. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease. He added that more women are affected by depression than men.
Subsequently, Dr. Sassine revealed the main topic of this presentation, “How Could Genes Causing Such a Debilitating State Survive the Process of Natural Selection? Especially when it is Highly Associated with Suicide.”
Dr. Sassine said, “Emotions have evolved to allow an individual escape from a dangerous situation, while pleasure encourages an individual to try and repeat the actions, such as sex, that gave rise to it. Similar arguments can be made for other emotions, such as anger, disgust, and sadness.” He added, “Sadness is a key emotion in relation to depression… it drives us to restore attachment and is, from an evolutionary point of view, an important adaptive emotion.”
He said that low mood and depression creates acceptance in some people that certain goals may be unobtainable, so they end up changing their goals. These same ailments can also serve toward energy conservation during particularly difficult and stressful times.
Can depression ever be good for us? Depression may be nature's way of telling us to stop and focus on what is troubling us, so we can move past it and get on with our life. It has become a controversial proponent of an idea that actually dates back to Aristotle based on the premise that depression may lead to better mental health.