Why are writers prone to depression? According to Denise Mann and her video and article here on the subject, there are only a couple of causes: isolation, rejection and self-inflicted misery.
As a writer who has been dealing with actual, diagnosed clinical depression since my teens (search PBW with the word depression and you'll pull up a dozen or so pieces I've written about it) I don't believe there is a one-size-fits-all explanation for the source. All writers are different, and while statistically speaking we may be more likely to deal with depression than non-writers, I think the causes are just as individual. In my case, depression has absolutely nothing to do with solitude, which I happen to like, rejection, which is just part of the gig, or misery via the writing. Being a writer fights depression for me, and the work has always helped to pull me back from the brink (and on more than one occasion, dragged me back out of the abyss.)
If you are a writer dealing with depression, you're definitely not alone, and there are a lot of options out there to explore. Many of my colleagues have gone into therapy and/or found medications that help them cope. There are also spiritual alternatives like prayer and group discussions that for some can be very effective. Nothing beats having a writer pal to privately vent to, either -- in the writing community, that may be the most popular form of depression self-help.
Aside from the work, I have a lot of weapons in my own organic arsenal against depression: walking, sewing, music, gardening, cooking, journaling, art and reading are the big guns, as most creative or outdoor activities are. Having arthritis limits me more than most people, but I've never let it stop me from pursuing what makes me happy (and doing something that uses your hands, according to this article, may be a very helpful way to battle depression.) For minor bluesy moments I have meditation, calming herbal teas or that relaxing hour of soaking in a hot bath.
I know I can change my mood through most creative activities, and I think it's a positive step to do something you really love, even if you don't feel any interest in it in the beginning. I can't count the number of times I've sat down to quilt when the blues had me wanting to do nothing, and felt immediately better within a few minutes. If you are struggling with depression, I think possibly the worst thing you can do is nothing.
What are some of the ways you writers out there cope with depression? Let us know in comments.