A trap that sensitive and altruistic people can easily fall into. Usually it starts with endogenous depression -- i.e. there doesn't appear to be a direct cause for the depression - you feel sad for no apparent reason.

But then you feel guilty: "Why am I depressed? I have no reason to be depressed ... not like my friend X who's just had a car accident, or my friend Y who just went through a divorce. What right do I have to be sad and upset? I have no right. But I still am ... but I shouldn't be."

So then this guilt makes you even sadder, and even more depressed, but then you feel guilty again; completing the loop and making you feel worse and worse ...

Wow, mental health must be at an all-time low if people can actually fall into that trap.

Guilt is a futile, destructive emotion. Resist the temptation to indulge in it. If you have done something evil or foolish, you will feel ashamed. Admit your wrongdoing; try to atone for it if you have wronged a person. Make some restitution. In this way you will expiate your wrong, and after a while the shame will pass.

Feeling guilty that you are feeling depressed, IMO, is likely a sign that you are thinking too much about yourself, or perhaps thinking too much, period. While the meaning of life is a cliche, there is no mystery about meaning in life: get involved. Do something. Help somebody. Focus on something outside yourself for a while.

Do not underestimate the value of sweat. Monks seeking satori spend long hours at manual labor as well as long hours in prayer, and for good reason. Life is a balancing act and those of us who tend toward the cerebral need to work as well as think. I cut firewood with an axe. That may not be practical for city dwellers, but I find it does wonders when an overcast sky or particularly clueless client gets me down.

There is a wonderful short story by David Foster Wallace titled 'The Depressed Person' about this very phenomemnon in his likewise excellent collection, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men. The story both is very funny and does a great job of exposing the guilt-depression problem as a possible form of narcissism.

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