What is Depressive Realism?

Depression is very wide-spread. In some people it is rather a frequent and common condition; in others it happens from time to time as a result of some life circumstances. Depression means that it is hard for a person to be enthusiastic. It is hard for a person to see the world bright colors. For a depressed person life is a sad holiday for the most of the time.

The rare breaks of light cannot help with the general gloomy and hopeless mood. However, there, perhaps, is some bright side to being depressed – one takes all the life events more realistically and therefore is able to control emotions better. This is something that can be referred to depressive realism; let’s have a closer look at the issue.

The idea of realistic appreciation is somehow connected with depression but it is not always clear in what respect. Under the term of a realist we tend to understand a person who does not entertain any distorted ideas about reality – the appreciation and views of a realistic person are pretty straightforward and there is nothing of pick glasses hoping or the like. There are no exceeded expectations or any such kind of stuff. However, what about depressive realism? How these things can be together? In fact, it is possible to take depression as a line of 10 points and to measure every person’s depression according to this scale. It is quite understandable that every person’s indicator will be different.


In case a person can be measured in the range from 0-5, he or she can be referred to the optimistic side and they tend to take the positive side of the things. They are full of hopes for the better tomorrow and they do not get discouraged by the faults of the world. On the other side of the scale there are depressed people – 8-10 points on the scale refer to clinical depression, as a matter of fact. But what comes to the points 5-7? They can be referred to moderate or medium depression level and in other words can be somehow considered the area of depressive realism. This is not about seeing life in the contrast but in a monotonous tone of gray and this breeds characteristic depressive realism patterns of behavior and reactions.


When it comes to optimistic people, it is hard to day that they are better than clinically depressed – the former tend to underestimate the evils of the situation while the latter to overestimate them. Both are not realistic and do not correlate to the adequate state of things.

In this respect depressive realism is a more adequate approach actually. A person is not biased with either excessively positive or negative approach; there is only one side of the situation that it taken into consideration ? its real one. Depressive realism helps to be more critical and less prejudiced about everything and a personal position and self-estimation does not play such a role as in case of an optimist and a depressed person. The skills are not overestimated and nor they are underestimated as well. Flaws are taken into consideration and not neglected; nor exaggerated. A person that is guided by depressive realism needs to know the real truth and facts in every situation and tends to accept the reality the way it is without distortions in any way.

Depressive realism is opposed to optimistic bias and it is hard to tell which approach is better. The thing is that depressed people are more prone to accept the fact that a lot of things in live do not depend on them and there is nothing to do about it really; while optimists struggle even where it might be not necessary. In this respect depressive realism can be way better and effective.

So, is this possible in this light to consider depressive realism as a healthy approach or is it just a pessimistic wonderings of a mind in search of a better explanation of a world? It is hard to tell. This is still a very wide research field in psychology and perhaps, in the nearest future the answers will be found. Let’s hope.

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