I don't think, ever in my life, that I would have linked knitting to depression. Originally, I learned to knit when I wanted to give up smoking in the Fall of 2002. Mom taught me to cast-on and off, knit and purl and sent me back to Germany with a bag of needles and a scrap of practice yarn.
I quit smoking quite successfully and became fascinated with knitting. As I sat in front of the TV all winter of 2002, my skills were quickly honed as I searched the web for patterns and adjusted them to the wool that I could afford or what Mom had sent over from England. Dave and I stayed in a lot that winter as I was trying to stay away from the Pubs that always tempted me to smoke. I was so stuck into my knitting that I didn't notice the 20 pounds I gained and decreased desire to go out and meet people.
In the early days, knitting was a way for me to hide from the world. Since my knitting was always in my bag, I could knit to avoid talking to people in a social situation. Finishing a project would be much more tempting to me than going out to a Traditional Irish Music Session or dinner with anyone other than the Irishman. Yarn was my new best friend. It was predictable, soft, silky and if there was anything I didn't like, I could rip it out and start over again. And hooo boy! the reactions when I gave people woolly gifts. The Irishman was absolutely delighted with the first hat (1st project ever!) I produced and wore it religiously until the temperatures went below zero (even though the pitiful thing looked more like a tea cozy). Since then I've whipped off gifts for anyone that would stand still or have an occasion for me to knit for. That's a high that still hasn't worn off ;)
Last year I started depression medication and since then, my social skills have been on a kiddie roller coaster. Desire to meet people has risen, but I'm out of practice. Like I plan a party and then freak out at the prospect of standing in the middle of 6 guests (introducing people and leading conversation), so I hide in the kitchen. Luckily, I've met some very nice people in the past couple of years, who are very understanding, patient and capable of starting conversations on their own. My knitting has turned into conversation starters and reasons to meet up with people and generally make friends. I'm getting married in August - it's going to be my final test, since I will have absolutely no reason to hide in the kitchen and avoid guests.
My knitting has transitioned with me to reflect things I knit for people I love and the creativity of exploring ideas with my yarn stash. Also, I can have a knitting break without freaking out and thinking "Would a real Knitter ever stop for this long????"
I've stopped worrying about being a Real Knitter and have simply started to remind myself daily to have fun. I feel like the Velveteen Knitter, hehe.