Do we have room in our lives for normal sadness? Do we have unrealistic expectations of gregariousness? Are we too quick to identify normal sadness as a biologically based depressive disorder?
These are questions explored in the helpful book, “The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sadness Into Depressive Disorder,” by Alan V. Horwitz and Jerome C. Wakelfield. The authors suggest that standard criteria for diagnosing depressive disorder does not adequately distinguish intense normal sadness from biologically disordered sadness.
Out of concern over what they view as “over-expansive psychiatric definitions of disorder,” they offer helpful insight for distinguishing “sadness due to internal dysfunction” from “sadness that is a biologically designed response to external events.” The chapters exploring the anatomy of normal sadness and the failure of social sciences to distinguish this kind of sadness from depressive disorder should be required reading for all medical and psychiatric professionals — as well as all counselors.
I do not believe a doctor should prescribe medicines for moods or behaviors without confidence that those receiving them are pursuing some form of counseling in a support system of caring people (see: Caring for the whole person).
For further help addressing the emotional and spiritual dimensions related to sadness and depression, see the following: