Giving up the word “depressed” for a week made me much more aware of how we use the word, not just in my own vocabulary, but in our common social discourse. Over the week I heard friends and colleagues talk about being “depressed.”

I read an author who spoke of being visited by his familiar old “demon of depression.” I noticed that when I use the word, there is usually a more accurate and more specific word that describes how I am feeling or what I am experiencing. When I talk about my feelings and experiences rather than an abstract diagnosis (“depressed”) I feel empowered and capable.

Using the word “depressed” is more likely to lead to a sense of affliction, like the author who spoke of being visited by the “demon of depression.” On the other hand, when I described the project of giving up this word to a wise spiritual counselor, he spoke of depression as actually depressing aspects of ourselves. We depress and slow down our reactions and feelings as a defense agains the intensity of life. All good food for reflection.

David, Seattle, WA