What kind of effects have evolution had on depression? Edward Hagen of Humbolt University provides one answer. He believes that being depressed is a good way to get people around you to do more for you. He says that the more depressed you act, the more people around you will pick up your slack. In evolutionary terms a person is not easily replaced, so help will be given to that person to make them happy again, so as not to upset the herd. The reason for these actions is that picking up someone else’s slack is quite a bit easier than replacing the person all together. Hagen also makes comments on the topic of suicide, because depression can often lead to suicide. How can suicide led to sympathy for a person, because they will already be dead, and it does not help them at all. However, the threat of suicide is very helpful for a depressed person, because it is the ultimate cry for help, which is often answered by loved ones.
All of these theories are very intriguing to me, but I just can not buy into them completely. If evolution really did cause amazing effects on depression, then show me the depressed people that live longer, are more successful, or are generally better off than a person that is not depressed. The whole idea behind evolution is natural selection, which basically means that the strong survive to new generations and the weak, or less adaptive perish. The problem with evolution effecting depression is that I do not see any strength in a depressed person that would allow them to survive over a person that is not depressed. I have also seen many cases where a depressed person might be able to elicit help from others by being depressed, but it appears that over time this depression will actually cause anger in the people around them. Many cases of people lashing out in anger and killing depressed people have been documented. This fact also does not show me why a depressed person would survive better than a person that is not depressed. In actuality this shows, in my opinion, that a depressed person might have a smaller chance of survival than a person that is not depressed.
But, that is my opinion. What is yours? Do you believe that evolution has and/or had these effects on depression?
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