This is my 8th attempt at writing today’s article. I must have written almost 5000 words before I restarted my computer to write again from scratch. Every single time I thought I had written enough, electricity flickers (Monsoon time, I can’t help it) in my home and my computer shuts down without me saving the article. I have written so many versions of the same topic because I cannot remember how I introduced the topic to you all. It is quite depressing really. Ahhh!! There it is: my opening. I’m going to talk about a touchy subject – depression.
I’d appreciate it if people took an open mind to what I’m saying, rather than defensively saying ‘I had depression, it is not like that and you don’t know what the hell you are talking about’. I’m not claiming to be a saviour or guru; I’m just writing my opinion based on my personal experiences.
If somebody greets you, you always greet them back with a positive message. Fine, good, great, awesome etc, even if you aren’t. Even if you are sad, depressed, unhappy, in pain, you never let it through and usually try to hide it. So, I thought I will write something about depression and sadness. It is important to know the reason for such things and ways of overcoming it. Did you know there are genes associated with depression? I will tell you more about finding “the gene” later on. First, we will see some of the reasons and factors pushing us towards depression.
Society today through the use of mass media especially TV, movies and magazines gives the impression to young people (more so girls but males as well), that life is going to be one big picnic, you are going to find the partner of your dreams, you are going to be the coolest person around at school, basically that life is going to be one big fairytale.
Now when people reach the mid-teenage years, they begin to discover that the world isn’t everything it’s made out to be. Their parents are just people with the same faults and inconsistencies as anyone else, with the ability to hurt them just the same as anyone else. They read magazines and find that they are not as attractive as the models they read about, begin to discover that the guy of their dreams is possibly not going to ride in and sweep them off their feet (The Twilight guy, whatshisface? Robert Pattinson? Tall, dark, handsome and a rich man), people in their lives are going to do things that upset them, and their grand fairytale plan for life isn’t going to fall into their arms. It isn’t just body issues.You can read more about the body issues here
I think when people begin to realise that the real world is a very different place than what they have been led to believe. Some people are brought up thinking that the world owes them happiness. That their family/friends/teachers are responsible for them feeling bad, and they get stuck in a rut which leads them to be sad about the situation and frustrated at their helplessness.
Recently, an article was published in the Guardian which claimed that depression can be good for you! Here is an extract from that article. I don’t know if it is true, but it sure gives something to think about.
Dr Paul Keedwell, an expert on mood disorders at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, has written how Sadness Survived in order to understand why something that causes so much pain and disability has withstood evolutionary changes and still occurs so commonly. ‘We see it as a defect – often patients see themselves as broken in some way – whereas I think of it as a defence mechanism. It has simply adapted in the human species to actually give us some long-term benefits.
‘Essentially, depression can give us new and quite radical insights – it can give us a way of responding effectively to challenges we have in life. In its severe form it is terrible and life-threatening, but for many it is a short-term painful episode that can take you out of a stressful situation for a while. It can help people to find a new way of coping with events or your situation – and give you a new perspective, as well as making you more realistic about your aims.’
Keedwell says there is good evidence from long-term studies, particularly a recently published population survey of Dutch adults, to show that, after their depression, many patients seem to be able to cope better with challenges. ‘For most, their vitality, their social interaction and their general health actually improved on recovery – and so did their work performance. I know from patients that it can also make you more realistic in your outlook; you develop more empathy to those around you.’
Going deeper into depression:
Much of what we know about the genetic influence of clinical depression is based upon research that has been done with identical twins. Identical twins are very helpful to researchers since they both have the exact same genetic code. It has been found that when one identical twin becomes depressed the other will also develop clinical depression approximately 76% of the time. When identical twins are raised apart from each other, they will both become depressed about 67% of the time. Because both twins become depressed at such a high rate, the implication is that there is a strong genetic influence. If it happened that when one twin becomes clinically depressed the other always develops depression, then clinical depression would likely be entirely genetic. However because the rate of both identical twins developing depression is not closer to 100% this tells us that there are other things that influence a person’s vulnerability to depression. These may include environmental factors such as childhood experiences, current stressors, traumatic events, exposure to substances, medical illnesses, etc.
How people process positive and negative stimuli is central to theories of emotion, and may be the key component in vulnerability factors governing risk for depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety are commonly experienced in the general population and may significantly impair psychosocial function. In their extreme form these negative affective states develop into clinical depression and anxiety – the most commonly experienced psychiatric disorders today. While these disorders are often characterised as distinct phenomena, they co-occur in up to half the cases with either disorder. Here is an article to read if you are interested in knowing the neurosciences behind depression.
How to overcome it?
STOP WORRYING, FOR EFF’S SAKE.
Here is a cycle that might give you an idea what is happening during depression. I forgot where I got this article (Remember the 8 power cuts I had to deal with), so I am sorry I cannot refer this properly, but anyway, it gives a good picture about depression and the “escape route”.
While sadness will always be part of the human condition, hopefully in the future we will be able to lessen or eradicate the more severe mood disorders from the world to the benefit of all of us. This can be done by doing research in this progress. And for that, the government and funding bodies have to provide money for the researchers. A long process and umpteen number of convoluted bureaucracy to deal with. It is quite depressing, really.