Creative Depression

When the “Piano Man” sings about men at the bar sharing a drink they call loneliness being better than drinking alone, the melancholy is somehow erased by something uplifting in the melody. Few people are aware that the lyrics of another of Billy Joel’s anguished songs, “Tomorrow Is Today,” were penned as a suicide note. For most of us, complete loss of the will to live is incomprehensible, yet more and more people experience the profound and debilitating sadness of clinical depression. What’s going on and what might our genes have to do with it?

It is astonishing to consider how many creative artists have fought or fight the demons of sadness. When Saturday Night Live’s Chris Farley committed suicide, it came as a complete ...

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