Writers’ Traits: Depression And Bi-Polar Disorder
If you read about the lives of many writers, you might be left with the impression that they’re almost all crazy. The problem is with defining ‘crazy’. But even if one focuses just on depression and extreme mood swings, these seem atypically common. But then the definition problem is simply narrowed. Everyone sometimes gets depressed and has extreme changes in mood.
This problem of definition extends to psychology. Where does one draw the line between what is normal and what should be considered ‘mental illness’? (The DMS tries to, but the criteria are quite ambiguous.) Surely depression that leads to suicide is severe enough to be considered abnormal? But apparently it is usually a temporary condition, for relatively few people who attempt suicide and fail then decide go on to give it a second try.
Nevertheless, actual research to determine the validity of the assumption that writers are at least statistically abnormal from the majority of people do seem to indicate they are indeed more prone to depression and extreme mood swings. But this really shouldn’t be surprising.
One of the causes of depression in anyone is an unreliable income, and that is certainly the case for most writers. Another is dependency on anything that is personally important and also unreliable. Writers are very dependent on their ‘muse’, and she can be as fickle as any lover. What creative person doesn’t worry that his or her creative well might run dry?
Extreme mood swings unrelated to actual life events have come to be defined as ‘bipolar disorder’, and the validity of this definition seems to be justified by its successful treatment with the drug lithium carbonate. So again, recent research suggests that in fact it is more common among all creative people.
Oh well. Everything has a price.