Depression: Why are we here today?
Depression – what it is and why is it on the rise?
Human beings are the first species on earth ever to dismantle their tribes.
Our ancestors in the Savannah of Africa were not faster than the animals they took down, were not bigger than the animals they hunted, but they were much better at bonding together into groups and cooperating. Just like bees evolve to live in a hive, we were meant to live in a tribe.
Society changed, the way we live changed, and that caused an increase in depression and anxiety, due to a massive strike in loneliness. Loneliness, as it turns out, is one of the main causes of depression and anxiety in modern societies.
Over the years, individualistic ideas of what it means to be happy have instinctively evolved and changed in the United States and other developed countries: it used to be having food on the table for a week after a good hunt, and it changed to shopping at the local mall in the hopes of drowning our feelings.
Older, more collective ideas of what it means to be happy like being kind to someone, helping out, or being with family are still found in less developed societies and in remaining tribes, but these too are changing.
Our core values have changed and we’re being dragged in the direction of loneliness and isolation. The things we’ve been told when we were young that make us happy in fact don’t boost our wellness: owning a mobile, eating candy, shopping….
Isolation came hand in hand with our use of social media. Now we have to drag our children outside to play together when it used to be so challenging to our parents to drag us in at the end of the day for our shower.
It is one of the most common mental illnesses in the world, according to recent data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Western societies have increased rates of depression because they’ve lost their sense of community living, and therefore connection. We thrive on connection ever since we are born. A person who doesn’t feel connected and supported, who feels isolated and lonely, will start having a negative inner dialogue with themselves. Almost every client I’ve worked with who came to me with depression was using harsh, hurtful, and critical words with themselves.
“I’m nothing”, “I don’t matter”, “How stupid of me”, and it goes on.
Depression is a medical condition like diabetes or heart disease, and can be treated. It has also been recently described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a social rather than a genetic issue.
Professor Andrew Scull states “depression is not to do with low serotonin and everything to do with connection and community”. In fact, it is well known that plumbers and hairdressers are the happiest people because they are the most connected and the least isolated.
What Are the Different Types of Depression?
Persistent depressive disorder (PDD)
PDD is diagnosed in people who have at least two of the symptoms of major depression for at least two years at a time. People who have PDD are often perceived as cranky, sullen, changeable, or pessimistic rather than being recognized as having a treatable disorder.
It is characterized by moods that cycle between extreme highs (mania) and lows (depression), often with periods of normal mood in between.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
It is a depression that occurs at the same time each year. It occurs usually at the beginning of fall and persists through winter. SAD is associated with changes in sunlight. Often accompanied by increased sleep, weight gain, and cravings for foods high in carbohydrates.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
It is a more serious form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMDD usually develops a week or two before a woman’s period and passes two or three days after menstruation starts.
Postpartum (or perinatal) depression (PPD)
It is diagnosed in mothers who experience symptoms of major depression shortly after giving birth.
It is usually related to a combination of factors, like: sharp changes in hormone levels following childbirth as well as feelings of intense sadness, anxiety, or exhaustion.
Recognizing depression symptoms
A person suffering from depression might…
- Seem more sad or tearful than usual
- Appear more pessimistic than usual or hopeless about the future
- Talk about feeling guilty, empty, or worthless more often than usual
- Seem less interested in spending time together or communicate less frequently than they normally would
- Get upset easily or seem unusually irritable
- Have less energy than usual, move slowly, or seem generally lethargic
- Have less interest in their appearance than usual or neglect basic hygiene, such as showering and brushing their teeth
- Have trouble sleeping or sleep much more than usual
- Care less about their usual activities and interests
- Experience forgetfulness more often or have trouble concentrating or deciding on things
- Eat more or less than usual
- Talk about death or suicide
Regardless of the symptoms, you can overcome depression with appropriate therapy.
Tips for coping with depression
Connect, connect, connect
In other words, stay in touch. Don’t withdraw from life. Your social life can improve your mood. Keeping in touch with friends and family means you have someone to talk to when you feel low. So make that phone call or go out to visit a good friend. You’ll soon find yourself feeling better.
Be more active
Take up some form of exercise. First try out more than a few, see what you enjoy most. Practice what you like- this will give you more satisfaction. There’s evidence that exercise can help lift your mood. I always advise my clients to start slow too: 5, 10 or 20 min max per day is all you need to get into the groove. You will build that habit slowly and surely by practicing every day.
- Face your fears
Don’t avoid difficult conversations with your kids or your spouse. Learn to vent in a healthy way, to communicate your feelings. Because whatever feeling is bottled up will come back stronger and will come out in an inappropriate way later. Feeling supported when you talk will lift your mood instantly.
Take cues from your body
Some people don’t feel like eating when they’re depressed and are at risk of becoming underweight. Others find comfort in food and can put on excess weight. Your body needs your attention. Learn to listen to it carefully and make the right choices: staying away from sugars is essential to avoid mood swings. Having a healthy bite of dark chocolate is an alternative. Become a selective eater so that your body works for you rather than against you.
Need more help for depression?
It’s no easy task overcoming depression alone. Your willpower might not be enough to override previous faulty wiring that you might have acquired.
If you’re still feeling down or depressed, reach out online or call to learn how you can get rid of these faulty beliefs quickly with Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT), and learn that depression can actually be a thing of the past.