I don't know, especially when you hear about the depression of people like Stephen King or Hemingway. As if everybody else doesn't have depression problems.
I have bouts of depression from time to time. Like today, I was incredibly depressed. The difference for me is that I know it whenever I'm depressed. I just can't help it. Fortunately, my depression is mild by any standards and it goes away after a couple of days. I can always see a pattern:
- on the outset, I become increasing antisocial, moody and distracted
- I don't have any creativity; my writing is blocked
- I start to become anxious about a lot of things, and somewhat restless, walking on eggshells, like everything I say might be offensive to someone. I worry about what people think
- I sleep a lot
- during the height of the depression, I don't want to get out of bed
The good news is, when I get to the last stage, usually it means I am close to a breakthrough, a rebound. Like now. I'm able to snap myself out of the depression, get out of bed, take a shower, and feel much better about myself. I also find that, from experience, the deepest of my depression usually comes at about 4 a.m. or 4 p.m. Don't ask me why.
I'm one of the lucky ones, I suppose. A lot of people are stuck in their depression. They either don't know they're depressed, or they can't "snap" themselves out of their depression. A lot of people use drugs to help them, from prescription drugs such as Prozac or Paxil, to recreational drugs such as alcohol, nicotine or coke. Fortunately, I know so much about my own patterns that I don't need drugs, and I'm also capable of snapping myself out of it. I just need to go through the motions, and let it stew for a while.