Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
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Depressing depression and lack of scientific prowess

A recurring, and very depressing, observation of mine is that alleged scientists, experts, whatnot, often show an astounding inability or unwillingness to think—as demonstrated again and again during the COVID-countermeasure era or at any time in the social “sciences”. Even professional scientists often seem unable to understand the difference between correlation and causation, seem prone to jump to conclusions, seem locked in a fit-the-facts-to-the-theory thinking, whatnot. Sometimes, they even seem to lack basic insights into the inputs and outputs of the matter at hand, as when “making one’s own bed” is considered “helping at home” (TODO import Wordpress text(s) and link).

A particular personal annoyance is the “depression leads to poor sleep” claim that I have seen in variations again and again, whenever depression was discussed. Depression is the cause; poor sleep the effect—period. While I have seen this direction on a great many occasions, I cannot (until today, 2023-10-20) recall ever seeing the opposite direction, that poor sleep would lead to depression.

(The same applies to quite a few “this-or-that mental health issue leads to poor sleep” claims. I will stick with depression for the sake of simplicity, because it is the by far most common case that I have encountered, and because the trigger for this text, cf. below, relates to specifically depression.)

However, exactly this seems obvious to me, and has seemed so ever since I first encountered the topic, maybe twenty years ago. Have these experts never, themselves, suffered a prolonged lack of sleep and felt the effects on themselves? Have they never stopped to consider that lack of sleep screws things up in so fundamental a manner that some type of mental issues would be a natural consequences? Etc. I have on two or three occasions mentioned the issue to colleagues—who, working in IT, have concurred that it is something obvious.

(And, from another angle: Have they never taken the very basic scientific step of questioning the direction of a causation? Note, however, that I do not claim that the causation would always be from poor sleep to depression, which would repeat the error in the other direction; that I certainly do not claim that poor sleep would be the sole cause, or that poor sleep would necessarily lead to depression; and that I am even open to a slight possibility that sleep is not a cause of depression at all—the obvious is not always correct. My beef is with the absurd failure to address an obvious possibility—nothing more; nothing less.)

This is the more disturbing as there also has been a tendency to treat the depression and hope that the sleep problems would go away, but not to treat the sleep problems and hope that the depression would go away—which, it it worked, could result in quick and cheap results. (Or is that the reason why it is not tried? A cured patient is a non-paying patient and at least some branches of psychiatry, psychotherapy, whatnot seem to work on the basis that patients should be so for as long as possible.)

Until today? Today, I encountered the freshly published How a lack of sleep could be making you depressede in an online newspaper, discussing a belated actual investigation, which seems to confirm exactly that lack of sleep severely increases the risk of depression.

Now, this is a single study and not the final word on the issue, but I cannot deny a feeling of vindication, maybe even something bordering on Schadenfreude.

An important question is “Why now?”, in 2023. Why not in 2003 or even 1923? If the results pan out and lead to a successful treatment in even just a large minority of cases, consider how much better off patients could be and could long have been.


While I have have nowhere near the depth of knowledge to find the root causes for the long neglect, beyond human stupidity, I could see a partial explanation in a near-religious or ideological conviction that the mind is formed by external mental influences (note e.g. Freud and his successors or the Leftist inability to let go of “Tabula Rasa” and “nurture only” thinking) and that suggestions of more tangible influences might be or might long have been frowned upon in large parts of the psych-whatnot communities.

Chemical influences on this-and-that have long been acknowledged by at least the medically oriented psychiatrists, but maybe they are not that preoccupied with the area at hand, or maybe they work on a similar basis to regular physicians, of “diagnose”, “prescribe pill”, “Next!”, which would leave little room to investigate the causality of sleep in a given patient. (Or, if we look at medical/chemical researchers, they might be employed to create the next pill to prescribe—not to investigate the underlying causes. Generally, it is disturbing how much of medicine still deals with the treatment of symptoms.)