In this brief guide, we will be discussing “ writers with depression”, a brief introduction to depression and it’s major symptoms, the relation between writers and depression, well-known writers with depression and few questions that are frequently asked regarding the topic.
Writers with Depression are:
- Mark Twain
- Stephen King
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Sylvia Plath
- Tennessee Williams
- Anne Rice
- J.K Rowling
- David Foster Wallace
- Arthur Rimbaud
Depression is believed to be the key cause of disability around the world. It is a mood disorder characterised by the feeling of persistent and prolonged low mood, sadness, loss of interest in pleasurable activities: anhedonia, feeling down and low throughout the day, weeks and months.
Although the feeling of sadness and loss of pleasure is familiar and a normal feeling to every one of us, depression is something that persists and causes severe impairment in an individual’s life. It can affect people from any age group ranging from children, adolescent, adult and geriatric population.
The duration of depressive episodes differs and varies from each individual wherein, for some cases, it lasts for about 2 weeks while in others it might persist for months and years.
Symptoms of Depression
Despite Depression being a mood disorder and causing severe impairment in the individual, there are other associated effects of depression in the everyday functioning of the individual.
It can take a toll on one’s psychological health, physical health, job performance, social relation and overall well-being.
The three noting symptoms of Depression are:
- Fatigability, tiredness and feeling of exhaustion
- Anhedonia, loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Depressed mood or prolonged sadness
Some of the other signs and symptoms of Depression are:
- Sustained and prolonged depressed mood
- Loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities or those that one enjoys doing
- Loss of sexual drives
- Fluctuations in body weight
- Disruption in sleep cycle resulting in insomnia and hypersomnia
- Muscle agitation, restlessness and twitches
- Disruption and disturbance in speech
- Fatigue and low energy in performing daily task
- A feeling of worthlessness and excessive guilt
- Recurrent thoughts on death, suicide and attempts for suicide.
- Impairment in concentration and attention
These are some of the major signs and symptoms of Depression. The severity and the interference of these symptoms differ and varied individually owing to other underlying reasons.
Writers and Depression
Researches have shown that there is a relation between creativity and mental illnesses. It was found that writers have elevated and increased risk for diagnosing with depression and suicide.
It was also shown that life of an author has an association with depression and although there is no genetic predisposition or inheritance, there is increased risk of psychiatric disorder.
The only known cause for the risk of depression in writers is that the environmental factors influence their vulnerability to depression. Some of the reasons are they live an isolated life, full of rumination, stress and etc.
There is also an association between people who are gifted for their artistic skills and creativity with certain kinds of psychiatric illnesses.
Research has also suggest that writers are more liekly to commit suicide than the non writer.
Causes of depression in writers
There are different reasons for depression in writers and their vulnerability was influenced by different reasons being both personal as well as their job itself.
Feeling of isolation
Writers and writing is believed to be a isolated pursuit and they are an introvert soul. They spend hours and hours ruminating and mulling over their thoughts. Since the majority of time was spent on contemplating and deep thinking, they are vulnerable to fall prey to their own thoughts and negativity. Depression is thus the result of their solitude and isolation for years.
Financial trouble and problem with money
Most of the writers have an erratic income. The effort and the amount of time spent on writing and the return is always imbalance and writer often face hard time dealing with the lack of money and income. The income they receive and earn by writing isn’t sustainable enough.
Not getting enough physical exercise
Writing and writers are always focused thus placing them at a particular position and sitting for prolonged time. They don’t get enough time to go for physical exercises and spend most of the time indoors. For them, the ideal exercise is to go for running and jogging.
Often doubt and criticise themselves
Depression hits the person when there is high self-doubt and they think about themselves. Since there is high self-doubt in the person, they are often the victim of depression. They tend to turn their self-criticism into motivation and self-help.
Writing as a job is often believed to be insecure and the individual can’t sustain themselves with the income earned through that.
These are the major reasons behind depression. Such reasons are mostly personal and deeply associated with themselves.
Well-Known writers with Depression
There are few well-known writers with a lived experience of depression.
Sylvia Path was diagnosed with depression that was too deep that it’s often hard to disengage them. The classic novel “ The Bell Jar” narrates her journey and confesses openly about her struggle, her diagnosis that led to give up her own life when she was only 30.
An excerpt from her journal, “ Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship — but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.”
William’s classic “ The Glass Menagerie” and “ A streetcar named Desire” compile his journey of suffering from depression throughout his life, his battle with drug addiction and the period of institutionalisation in 1969. He was also affected by his sister’s episode of struggle with Schizophrenia.
Rimbaud was a 19th century poet whose relationship with Poet Paul Verlaine moved Vaerlain to shoot him. Rimbaud shared the journey of his youth and stopped when he was 21.
An excerpt from his statement, “ “In the morning I had a look so lost, a face so dead, that perhaps those whom I met did not see me.”
He was a tormented soul who was known for his emotional instability. He was known and celebrated throughout his lifetime however, his success has only brought little harmony and peace to himself. There were episodes from his life having to deal with personal lossed, alcoholism, personal loss, abuse and consequently took his last breath due to poverty in the year 1896.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
As per his statement from an interview, “A series of things happened to papa. So papa got depressed and started drinking a little… One blow after another, and finally something snapped.”
He was suffering from a severe depressed mood along with alcohol withdrawal. The episode of his depression and alcoholism was known and due to certain complications, he passed away in 1940.
An excerpt from his interview with The New York Post, “ “A series of things happened to papa. So papa got depressed and started drinking a little… One blow after another, and finally something snapped.”
Her life was about an unemployed mother who had shared her journey from being an unemployed woman to a billionaire. She was a victim of severe depression and also creates horrifying dementors to portray the lived experience and the struggle undergone by individuals suffering with depression.
Her statement from the interview with Times, “ Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced…It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different”
He was a celebrated writers known for his work like Notes of a Native Son and his first ever novel Go Tell It on the Mountain. From his semi-autobiography, he had shared a clear description of the suicidal urges often related to his loose relationship with a swiss man. He was severely dpressioon and had a multiple attepmts of suicide, but failed. He finally died of cancer in 1987.
David Foster Wallace
Wallce took away his life in the year 2008. He frequently writes openly about the subject of depression and is very open with his battle against severe suicidal depression. “ The Depressed Person” was one of his articles written for Harper’s Magazine in 1998 where shared about life lived with depression.
A short extract from his novel Infinite Jest, “Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling”
These are some of the well known writers who were diagnosed with depression once in their lifetime and also documented their journey through their writings and work.
Coping with Depression for writers
Writers diagnosed with depression and are battling with it can use different mechanisms in coping with it. Some of the strategies of getting rid of the depressive symptoms are:
- Not to get burdened by the organisation
- Writing about what excites them than overthinking
- Not to be stress out by the job and running short of words
- Let your mind drift away and do things to enhance their focus.
- Turning their books into soundtrack
- Seeking help whenever needed and following professional help.
These are some of the coping mechanisms for people diagnosed and battling with depression.
FAQs: Writers with Depression
Who is the author of depression?
Mark Twain is believed to be the Author of Depression and famous for his writings on depression.
Is it possible to diagnose yourself with depression?
Yes, one can assess their depressive symptoms however can only diagnose it with professional help and medical professionals.
Did Mark Twain have depression?
Yes, he had a period of deep and severe depression in the year 1896 especially when his daughter died of Meningitis.
In this brief guide, we had discussed “ writers with depression”, a brief introduction to depression and it’s major symptoms, the relation between writers and depression, well-known writers with depression and few questions that are frequently asked regarding the topic.
What we recommend for depression
If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.
Links to follow for more details and information
Edley, L. (2019). Writers and Depression. Thanet Writers. https://thanetwriters.com/essay/motivation/writers-and-depression/
Page, B. (2010). Writers ‘at greater risk of depression’, survey finds. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/dec/13/writers-depression-top-10-risk
Thorpe, J. R. (2015). 9 famous writers discuss depression. bustle. https://www.bustle.com/articles/90272-9-famous-writers-with-depression-from-sylvia-plath-to-jk-rowling
Vann, M. R. (2013). 8 Famous Writers With Depression. everyday health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/depression-pictures/famous-writers-with-depression.aspx