According to the documentary film, "The Marketing of Madness,", there is absolutely no evidence to support the theory we have all come to believe--that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance of the brain. The film also questions the medical model of other so-called 'mental illnesses.'

Yet depression can be a devastating experience. What does one do with a depressed state of mind? If it is not a chemical imbalance, what is it? How can it be treated?

In an interview with SoundsTrue,, Thomas Moore states: "Depression can certainly debilitate a person; it can really cause a lot of pain and trouble. That does not mean that depression is not an expression of the soul. If we can imagine it as an expression of soul, find ways to weave it into our experience, it would not feel so overwhelming and alien." He further says that depression can give a "gift of weight" that the soul needs.

Mindfulness psychotherapy approaches depression from a different perspective than the traditional medical model of treatment. In the mindfulness approach, emotions are considered a normal part of life and old patterns of viewing life through negative 'stories' and thought patterns are turned around. Practicing mindfulness in everyday life can help break the cycle of depression. It can be freeing to discover we can live a happy and full life exactly as we are.

Depression might even be viewed as an emotional addiction. It often comes when we encounter a painful life experience. Our minds want to avoid the suffering and we try to resist it. We abandon ourselves and go numb. Meanwhile our bodies are producing brain chemicals and hormones which our nerve receptors begin to adapt to.

Cognitive therapists might say depression results from distorted thinking that starts with one negative thought and develops into a chain reaction of thinking we are hopeless and unworthy. Then, we are told we are depressed and we start to believe it. We identify with a depressed mood and everything in our life begins to be based on the belief that there is something wrong with us. Are we having negative thoughts because we are depressed, or are we depressed because we are having negative thoughts?

Author's Bio: 

Leila McKay is a mindfulness psychotherapist in private practice in Austin, Texas. Her web site is