THE BLOG
12/20/2011 08:25 am ET Updated Feb 19, 2012

Depression and Depression: Paul Krugman, Leonard Cohen and St. Paul

Paul Krugman has finally uttered the words. We're in a Depression. His Sunday NYT piece, "Depression and Democracy," is here.

Elsewhere, Leonard Cohen has shared about Depression and Depression:

"Well, you know, there's depression and depression. What I mean by depression in my own case is that depression isn't just the blues. It's not just like I have a hangover in the weekend ... the girl didn't show up or something like that. It isn't that. It's not really depression, it's a kind of mental violence which stops you from functioning properly from one moment to the next. You lose something somewhere and suddenly you're gripped by a kind of angst of the heart and of the spirit..." --Leonard Cohen, French interview, trans. Nick Halliwell

It's hard to be hopeful about the world economic situation. But Cohen's kind of depression -- God, he's right on, isn't he, about there being different kinds? -- the kind of mental violence, the kind that stops you from functioning properly from one moment to the next, the kind that grips you and won't be shaken off without time and effort and help -- maybe you see yourself in that. Unwanted thoughts, irrational compulsions, excessive guilt.

For years, I looked to Cohen's quote and thought, well, shit, this is the condition of artist. I found out later that it's also the condition of millions of people who, in addition to being sensitive, winsome and artistic, also happen to not produce enough serotonin on their own. For many, such is the biology of general anxiety, OCD and other depressions. If that's you, please know there is help. If you don't know if that's you, please see a trusted physician and find out. A friend of mine said it best: "no one should have to suffer because of their biochemistry." We'd never suggest a diabetic go without insulin. We'd never expect a diabetic without the right help to function in healthy ways, let alone thrive. Any physician worth her salt will tell you it's the same with the way our brains process the presence or death of chemicals our bodies are making as best they can. Beloved, God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. A righteous mind.