There will not be an answer to this question that is true for everyone – instead, I think that this is an interesting question to ask one’s self as the answer would lend itself to a different form of intervention.
“Is my depression the result of my being lazy… or does my depression cause me to be lazy?”
perhaps an additional variable could be “am I depressed because I don’t know the activities that could help my depression… or am I depressed because I know what would help my depression, but I am unable to motivate to take action?”
the purpose of bringing up this ‘chicken or the egg’ discussion is to assist people in identifying the most effective intervention strategy and to de-complicate depressions a bit
let’s look at this issue from an inverted perspective – what if you wanted to make yourself depressed – what could you do?
note: It is easier to make yourself depressed than to un-depress your self… It takes quite a lot of intentionality, dedication, motivation, and energy to avoid depression in today’s complicated world. Depression is a ruthless entity which encourages people to follow the rules below… inversely if you engage in all the behaviors below you can unintentionally allow depression into your life.
Here are a few things that you could do to make yourself depressed:
1.) Eats lots of hard to digest foods (processed, fried, carbs, sugars etc)
2.) Don’t get enough sleep
3.) Find an addiction (electronic devices are particularly effective)
4.) Never exercise, stretch, or meditate
5.) Throw your fear circuitry into fight or flight mode by regularly watching 24-hour news stations
6.) Avoid hobbies and any form of recreation, activities, and entertainment that could leave you feeling stimulated
7.) Avoid contact with other people (especially emotionally intimate encounters) and avoid working on your boundaries
8.) Avoid having sex
9.) Work until you are exhausted
10.) Avoid all therapies (mental, relational, and physical)
11.) Never experience nature
12.) Choose comfort over an engaging, stimulating, or challenging experience whenever possible
13.) Stop learning, growing and challenging yourself
14.) Ensure your life has no structure, routine, or goals
15.) Avoid the Arts
16.) Never play. take everything too seriously
17.) Spend all your time thinking/planning for the future, and ruminating on the past … never enjoy the present moment (or spend no time planning in your life)
18.) Avoid being openminded, curious and flexible
19.) Avoid all spiritual and existential contemplations and practices
20.) Don’t listen to your emotions or intuitions… and don’t acknowledge or validate your emotional experience
For all 20 variables listed above, there is a unique solution for you – for example: not everyone needs to engage nature the same way, exercise the same, eat the same etc to avoid depression… but most of us, both intuitively and through contemplation of our life, have a basic idea of what we need to achieve ‘wellness’ relevant to all the above 20 variables.
Depression may have come from a biological source, a traumatic event, or from some other environmental variable… or depression may have arrived because the above 20 variables were not attended to…
For some, an outside helper such as a therapist or psychiatrist may be necessary to get the ball rolling… for others, the solution may be as simple (though ironically difficult) as addressing the 20 variables above with an intentional plan.