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What is depression, exactly? Even in progressive circles, we tend to treat depression as any other illness – as something the individual needs to fix. Whether by taking antidepressants, getting more exercise, or seeing a therapist, depression is treated as an illness that needs to be cured individual by individual.

Instead, what if we understood depression to be a reaction that people have to the way that they are treated? Depression isn’t a random illness. If it was, depression would affect everyone equally. Instead, depression is a problem disproportionately felt by the oppressed. Women are more likely to be depressed than men. Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual youth are far more likely to try to kill themselves than straight youth.  Trans people and Indigenous people also face extremely high rates of depression and suicide. It’s not a coincidence that these are groups that have survived historical oppression and continue to be marginalized and dominated.

Depression is how our brains react to being put into situations we should never have had to face in the first place: ableism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, colonialism: these are all causes of depression. So why is depression a part of neurodivergence? There are two reasons: one, because the problem isn’t the person. And two, because it impacts how our brains work and how we handle certain situations, and those things deserve to be accommodated like any disability.

We need to stop treating depression as an individual problem, and treat it as a collective one.  When we assume depression is an individual problem, it makes it easy to scapegoat people and blame them for the injustices that they face. Individualizing depression makes it easier to ignore what a huge problem transphobia, racism, and other injustices actually are.

Anti-depressants, therapists, exercise, and whatever other cures people come up with, can help with the symptoms of depression, but they can’t solve the systemic causes. When we defeat sexism, homophobia, transphobia, colonialism, capitalism and other systems of oppression, we will see big changes in people’s mental health, too.

We need an anti-oppressive analysis of depression by Liz Kessler (retrieved via
Reposted fromgrompfus grompfus

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