Someone asked me about 'normal' depression versus major depression, especially those requiring medication. Here is my response:
I wanted to comment about you saying therapists say just stop being depressed! I'd get a new therapist QUICKLY. Sounds like a burned-out therapist to me! A legend in the psychology field (Irvin Yalom speaking of Karen Horney) once said, "the human being has an inbuilt propensity toward self-realization. If obstacles are removed, the individual will develop into a mature, fully realized adult, just as an acorn will develop into an oak tree." The task of the therapist is to remove obstacles blocking the patient's path. So first, identify the obstacles to being the person the patient aspires to be, then work on ways to remove those obstacles. Sometimes the obstacles are deeply rooted, like incest, abandonment, etc. When THAT happens, the brain literally forms differently, causing malfunctioning neuropathways and messed up neurotransmitters. Patients usually have lifetime mental illness, requiring medication to regulate (or normalize) the neurotransmitters, along with counseling to form healthy thinking patterns.
Then there is situational depression which occurs after a death, divorce, or other 'situation' - hence the name, This usually is treated by counseling without the need for medication. If the depression lasts longer than 6 months, the patient needs to be evaluated for possible dysthymia (which is a low-grade depression where the patient feels sad and blah, but it doesn't interfere with major life functioning, where medication may or may not be used.
What I have is the first - Major Clinical Depression, Recurrent is the official diagnosis. My childhood events have messed up my brain. People may not believe this - I don't want to believe it, but our brains are formed the first 20 years of life. Without the right environment, brains are messed up. That is what causes addictive personalities, alcoholics, child molesters, etc. People grow up to be what they were exposed to.
Hope that answers your questions. Remember, you cannot just 'snap out of a clinical depression'. Why would people willingly be depressed?