Depression as a way of life
CAUSES OF DEPRESSION AT DIFFERENT AGES
From the first to the last breath we take, various challenges are an inevitable part of life that is filled with turnovers, dark alleys and avenues that are too bright. Some of the life stages are riskier than others in terms of mental health. We all go through these stages and they are usually periods of inevitable and grand changes in our behavior.
One of the definitions of “madness” is when we keep behaving in the same way and expecting different results, being dissatisfied with the existing ones. in the times of divorces, a loss of a loved one, an illness, retirement… we suddenly find it difficult to fulfill our needs in ways that we used to up to that point. Chances of dealing with depression during these periods are the greatest.
Stuck with being helpless
As we live in a depressive era. depression has become a civilizational disease, a way of life. When pressures and the demands of the surroundings we live in prevent a person from fulfilling their own needs (the need for security, diversity, meaning, love and connection, personal growth, doing things for others), stress is inevitable to build up. That is when we start to feel helpless and “stuck”. In these circumstances, our mind creates conditions for the development of clinical depression.
Researches show that depression is 10 times more common today than it was 70 years ago. This is probably partly due to the fact that people are readier to say that they have mental issues, although it is still true that a faster way of life and growing demands that are being put before us have played a role in the increase of the number of people being affected by depression. It affects young people more and more, but no age is immune to depression. The number of suicides is also growing. Chemical imbalance cannot be solely blamed for everything. Our genetics does not evolve so rapidly (which is the usual approach in modern medicine and psychiatry).
People suffer in the context of their current situation, but also in the context of their emotional past, experiences and due to different forms of behavior they have acquired, as well as their personality traits. Relationships within the nuclear family, with partners and friends tell us a lot about the reasons why some people are depressed and some are not. Our beliefs, emotions and the way we handle challenges in life are usually learned from the important people in our lives during the first 10 years of our lives. If those people were depressed, it is highly likely that we will develop inadequate behavioral patterns in our lives.
Some learn depression from others
Living with someone who used to be depressed increases the risk of becoming depressed yourself, which strongly supports the view that this is not just about genetics. Many psychiatrists, including M. Yapko and M. Seligman, treated depression as a learned phenomenon, even as a “socially contagious” one. Seligman showed with his research that children learn their depressive beliefs, view of the world and methods of dealing with problems in their nuclear families. He also showed that depression can be “bypassed” if children are taught about new behavioral patterns in everyday situations.
It is clear that there are different causes of depression. Some people react to the fact that depression is not primarily a biological illness by saying that only the people themselves are to blame for feeling that way… as if experience and circumstances had nothing to do with that, as if that were just a reflection of someone’s personal weakness. However, the truth is completely different. Nobody wants to be depressed. Strong, intelligent, good people… all of them are equally affected by depression. It is important to take the following into consideration:
What happens to us?
Many stay strong even after the worst of events. Not everyone who survives The Storm is mentally ill. And some become depressed when seemingly everything is just fine in their lives. It is all more about HOW A PERSON HANDLES WHAT IS HAPPENING ON THE INSIDE – the negative thoughts, thought of disasters, the constant worrying and feeling of helplessness.
“It’s all great on the outside, but on the inside – there’s fire burning… I actually have no reason to feel bad” – this is the description commonly used by my clients. Flexibility is something that you learn and develop. If, throughout their whole life, a person has been exposed to, for example, a parent who has always been worried or expected too much from them, that is not that person’s fault.
Just like it is not their fault that a war or any other bad circumstance showed up in their life.
There are periods of transition when it becomes difficult to fulfill one’s needs. This leaves us vulnerable and prone to depression. In fact, feeling HELPLESS AND HOPELESS ABOUT LIVING LIKE WE USED TO EVER AGAIN (fulfilling those needs) is what enables the depression to develop. If a person developed DEPRESSIVE BELIEFS, HAD A TRAUMATIC EMOTIONAL EVENT OR WAS OVERPROTECTED IN LIFE, did not encounter true challenges, then these periods of transition bring a greater possibility of developing depression.
Successful, but single
Sanja is a typical, successful young woman, who says that she has accomplished everything easily and somehow without any difficulties or strains. She grew up in a family with plenty of love and understanding, was a good student, got a job right after college and is successful in her work. The problem occurred once her boyfriend, whom she considered to be “the love of her life”, left her. She developed a belief that she would never get married, that she would not have a family and that her life had no meaning anymore because she was not accomplished in that field. While I worked with her, we came to the realization that Sanja excelled in everything when she had her parents’ support. She was an over-protected child. She never paid any bills herself – her mother, who was a housewife and had a lot of free time, always did those things for her. Occasional bad grades at school were always handled by her father’s visit to the teachers. She graduated from a private college because, at the public university, “students were harassed” and she got a job at a company where her father was the director. The only part of her life where parents could not intervene was – the boyfriend. They could not make him live with her. She realized that she first had to learn how to deal with the most ordinary life challenges herself, which she was perfectly capable of, and that the time had come when she had to move on with her life on her on. She rented out an apartment, started buying and cooking her own food, managing her money and making decisions independently. And she liked it… She now realizes that she can find someone to form a family with. And she believes that her former boyfriend left her because, if they had stayed together, he would have “married her mom and dad”, which he told her when he was leaving.
Recipe for change
The only constant in our lives is change. Our body ages, circumstances are constantly changing, not one second is the same as the one before it. FLEXIBILITY means adjusting to change, not being opposed to it. That FLEXIBILITY is the greatest advantage that humans have compared to other species. And, of course, AWARENESS that everything is transient, even the worst of situations. And THEIR ACCEPTANCE .
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because some day in your life, you will have been of these.” – George Washington
Ljiljana Jagodić is a clinical psychologist, SI life coach and a hypnotherapist.