We have a notion, that mentally unstable people are not able to perform tasks properly, in fact, their cognitive abilities are weakened.
However, on the contrary, a depressed person is more focused, or concentrate better on any work as deduced by Jonah Lehrar who writes in the New York Times about her research in this field.
A depressed person can make a better mathematician, and the analogy between the two states of mind are almost the same.
A depressed person is focused on believing his/her melancholy as the truth, and the mathematician need to be focused on formulas and techniques to solve problems.
Let us see how this analogy is drawn.
A person who is a good mathematician need to have an obsession for numbers, formulas and derivations; and a person in depression holds the same kind of obsession for a selective person or situation; the broken hearted person is concentrated on each and every detail of his/her pain and humiliation, such that he/she cannot get out of that depressed phase.
Depression is a state where a person is very focused on the pain and hence cannot recover from it easily; the same kind of dedication or obsession is required for mathematical theories to solve problems. In certain cases, you also need to be imaginative about your steps while problem solving, like a depressed person imagines his/her grief to a different level, unique to the world.
Professor John Nash was a genius, a gem of a mathematician and we all know he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and acute depression. #ABeautifulMind gives clear example of how an obsessed person, who visualizes his passion, becomes excellent in the field.
This great mathematician was disillusioned, yet he solved algebraic equations and in-equations like a magician. He was depressed because of his lack of self-knowledge and struggle with illness, yet he was exceptional in his academic skill.
He solved arithmetic on the window panes, he could visualize his numbers with the power of his mind, the focused quality of his mind, made him imagine a friend, and the same gave him the ability to invent the ‘game theory’.
Cognitive functioning follows the same mechanism for a person who is focused and for a person who is depressed.
For e.g. if a person is depressed, because he has had a break-up; in this situation, depression draws from the fact, that he is concentrating all his energy on one person who has left him, and he desires to get her back; he doesn’t give up; he focuses on every detail of his painful feelings, how he feels rejected, humiliated, insulted, ditched, betrayed and the like; every minute expression of the heart come alive for a depressed person.
The brain of such a person is not weak at all, in fact, it is very productive which gives him this amount of dedication and concentration on a particular individual, the same quality of brain is required for a mathematician to exceed normal limits, and hence we can conclude that depressed persons, if they try to work out on problem solving, can do great.
They just need to be provided with the path, so that they shift their focus from their pain and grief towards a calculative outcome oriented task.