Last Updated on July 26, 2016
From “Sophie’s Choice” writer William Styron to poet Sylvia Plath to J.K Rowling, the mastermind in charge of the Harry Potter collection, the record of well-known blue writers — many of whom have documented it in their prose — is expansive.
Though there are no firm statistics on how many writers expertise depression, research worker Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, a psychiatry professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore and author of several publications, including“Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness” and the “Artistic Character,” has reported that writers have depression or manic depression more often than non-writers.
“There’s some component of truth to the stereotype, but you don’t need to be depressed to write — just as you do not need to be mad to be creative,” says Alan Manevitz, MD, a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Taking steps to address these dangers and understanding why writers can become depressed is the very best strategy to help to keep depression away and honor the creative procedure.
Why Do Writers Get Depressed?
Despite the long record of famous writers with depression, the link between depression and writers is not written in rock. Nevertheless, there are reasons why writers may be prone to depression, Dr. Manevitz says. For one, being familiar with pain anguish, and suffering may direct the method for many writers. Yes, writers can write about enduring even in case they don’t understand it well, but some may believe if they haven’t experienced the same trials and tribulations as their characters on some degree, that their work will lack credibility.
Writing is also a solitary pastime, says Manevitz. The dearth of social interaction can set the stage for depression. “If you’re isolating yourself and do not get outside much, you are likely not exercising or getting natural light,” he says.
The writing life can also be an emotional roller coaster in the event that you are always faced with rejection from publishers, agents, editors, or even peers. “A substantial section of a writer’s success is determined by how other people think of him or approve,” Manevitz includes.
Most writers are only wolves, concurs David Straker, an adjunct assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, DO. You may well not socialize with others and write by yourself, he says. You may also write late into the night time and sometimes even only during the night. “This can throw off sleep-wake schedules, which also may increase the likelihood of depression,” Dr. Straker says. Insufficient natural light, exercise, sleep, and business can be a recipe for depression.
Portrait of a Writer
Alexandra Styron, the youngest child of acclaimed American writer William Styron, chronicled what it had been like growing up with him in her critically acclaimed memoir Reading My Father. She’s a unique take on writers and depression.
“My dad was depressed when he wasn’t writing,” she says. “That’s to say, I think the creative urge was so strong in him and his awareness of himself so tied up with his artwork, that when he was not working well, it caused him great despair. I believe he fought with depression all his life, but it was at his worst when he was frustrated creatively.”
Styron recalls that her dad was extremely private . “He strove to keep his work life quite routine, though he feared the desk, since many writers do, and took a long time each day to settle down,” she says. “But once he did, he was submerged and couldn’t bear gap. As a kid, I had a hard time understanding what he was up to. But now that I am a writer, I completely get it, and empathize.”
Nonetheless, she says, “I don’t think he needed to be depressed to write. He would inform you, as would many creative people who suffer with depression, that it is not possible to work when you’re depressed. It feels unnecessary. And that may be a vicious cycle.”
The aptness for depression, though, does not appear to have been passed down to Styron from her daddy. “I think I can say, gratefully and with some assurance, that I don’t have the depression gene,” she says. “Fortunately, I got my mum’s resilience. But I certainly have viewed those demons and been spooked by them.”
C’Mon, Get Happy?
In the event you’re happy, as Styron’s daughter’s career attests, you can still be a fabulous and prolific writer. But resilience aside, “make time to work out and spend time outside in sunlight,” Manevitz says. Exercise boosts levels of the brain’s natural mood compounds, called endorphins. “It is, in addition, important to consume a proper diet, get regular sleep, and spend time with family and friends,” he says.
Straker suggests choosing a writing workshop or course or joining a writer’s group. “This will supply more camaraderie,” he says.
Writers and MDD
As a writer, you might be loath to admit you want manage to investigate your creativity and help with manage melancholy.