Depression: A Stress Full Subject

I’d like to start this hub with a quick address to any readers currently in depression. Quite possibly you stumbled upon this hub in desperate search for a solution to your suffering.

First of all, be aware that I am not a professional, and this hub is not to be interpreted as an expert treatise on the subject. Having said that, I believe this hub is safe to read; that it will cast no blame in your direction. If there’s one thing I learnt from over twenty years of depression, it does not pay to blame yourself, nor pay much heed to those that would. With that said, please read on.

This Hub is in response to a question asked by a wonderful hubber -ACSutliff. Her question was founded upon a comment I made to another Hubbers personal experience of depression. The Question asked was: Would you mind sharing your theory on depression?

I have attempted to remain true to that question, therefore I should warn you that most of what you are about to read is based on just that, my theorising. Although built upon the substance of considerable reading, study and professional explanation, the finale of my conclusions is not that of a professional therapist, analyst or clinical researcher. Rather I am simply one who has been through hard core depression over a lengthy period, listened attentively to the verbiage that has grown around the subject over several decades, spent thousands of dollars on “cures” and, probably most powerfully, been influenced by a growing faith in the biblical God.

At the end of this journey I believe I might have learnt a few things.

I know, sounds hesitant and indecisive, but that’s just the problem when speaking of depression, for it is unique to the individual and complex. On the whole it is a malady physically imperceptible to others, emotionally experienced and psychologically diverse; it can strike anyone from any walk of life whether rich or poor, religious or unreligious, of nurturing or neglectful parenting, low or high IQ and of any ethnicity. Therefore I doubt anyone can say with 100% confidence, “This is why I got depressed and therefore likely why you got depressed also”.

That said, when a society as a whole is experiencing a massive insurgence of any malady, it pays to look for the common denominator(s) that may be behind it, with the goal of eliminating them if possible, or at the least controlling them; more on that shortly.

What is Depression?

  • Depression is not normal sadness, being moody or just a low mood, but a serious malady. It important here to emphasise that true depression is a debilitating problem. It is not the "blues", it is not "grieving", it is not just an "extended period of sorrow". I have experienced all those things and depression trumps them all in its severity and consequences.
  • Depression is common, affecting up to one in four females and one in six males.
  • Depression is the leading cause of suicide.

Depression is Complex

A clear sign as to the complexity of the problem of depression is the many clinical sub-divisions given to classify it. There’s atypical depression, manic depression, childhood depression, teenage depression, clinical depression, elderly depression, melancholic depression, mixed anxiety-depressive disorder, postpartum depression, cyclothymic depressive disorder, dysthymic depressive disorder...

To be honest with you, although western medicine takes great pains to treat the symptoms of our many maladies, it rarely has the nous or luck to seek out and isolate the cause. As cynical as this may sound, I believe it comes down to the fact that there’s more money to be made in treating symptoms than educating the prevention of.

There are some that would say that depression is a result of imbalance within a person’s life. That we are composite beings, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and that to neglect to feed any of these areas is a likely cause of depression.

Well, yes and no. Yes I agree we are composite, and yes problems can result when we fail to nurture any area. However, I do not believe depression is necessarily a result of neglecting to nurture. In fact there are those that have eaten well, exercised regularly, remained fully mentally stimulated and within emotionally stabilising relationships while zealously following a spiritual goal, and yet suffered depression. On the flip side, many there are who fail miserably within one or more of these composites and go through life with barely a blimp of the blues. If nurturing balance were the key, why these discrepancies?

You're not alone...

Have you Suffered from Depression?

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NOTE: Personally I believe there is a great synergy between our composite parts; each impacting upon all others in varying degrees. That said I think we must start from the simplest and most obvious of our composites, our physical body's, and work outward (or is it inward). Too often I have seen/heard/read depression blamed on emotional trauma as a child or unresolved spiritual failings, without due consideration given to the inadequate dietary, exercise and health habits of the individual; habits that may well make it impossible for them to overcome other forms of stress. No amount of counselling or spiritual meditation is going to avail if the problem is due to physical causes.

Another (unproven) theory is that depression is genetic, that there must be some hereditary 'predisposition trigger' in some people that when activated leads to depression. Personally I have a problem with any Post-foetal-development problems that are given a purely Pre-foetal-development genetic cause. A very hard thing to prove, considering that so much occurs during and after pregnancy that can impact upon us regardless of our genetics. I lean far more toward environmental causes than genetic ones.

So, onto my theory (and this won't take long, I've decided to give the short version):

My theory (which is really not mine) falls in to two parts which I have called

  1. The Stress factor
  2. The Chaos theory (not the applied maths one, but my own 'biblical' one)

The Stress Factor

In identifying what I considered the common triggers to the escalating problem of depression, encompassing them all would be Stress. And I refer to stress in its broadest sense; anything that impacts us negatively.

And at the root of much of this stress, I am inclined to blame man-made physical causes. Included in this category would be everything from food additives, food processing methods, air pollutants (e.g. carbon monoxide), industrial and domestic chemicals (e.g. pesticides, solvents), electric pollution, genetic engineering etc.

In today's society we are continually bombarded with man-made chemical/biological-based stresses, of a kind either not existent in nature, or existing at levels dramatically less than we unnaturally now experience on a daily basis.

Please refer to the links trailing this hub to discover more on the chemical/depression link.

Note: I acknowledge that stress comes from many sources; abuse, illness, poor parenting, peer pressure, unhappy marriages, guilt etc. However I firmly believe the impact of our toxic modern environment significantly reduces our ability to cope with these life realities in a positive way, instead spiralling us into depression. Much like a compromised immune system to which the common cold becomes a life threatening risk.

The Chaos Theory

This is a theory founded in my Christian faith but witnessed also in the natural world; and at some points scientifically verifiable. It goes something like this;

  • In the beginning the earth was a paradise environment. The synergy between God, man and environment allowed for unending life
  • Man broke that synergy. Chaos entered. Everything suffered loss. Man's life is diminished.
  • Man's chaotic influence increases. The earth, as it then was, is consequently dramatically altered. Man's life is further diminished.
  • With the passing of time our planet and the creatures upon it are moving further and further from perfect beginnings and closer toward chaotic ending

We see the truth of this in the world around us; the natural disasters, the growing deserts and diminishing natural resources. Even without our exacerbating influence, the earth would still eventually decline into death. The second law of thermodynamics (commonly known as the Law of Increased Entropy) reinforces this truth. Everything is diminishing.

When applied to the problem of depression (or any malady or earthly danger for that matter), it should not surprise us that problems increase and threats grow in their recurrence and severity, such is the natural direction; from perfection to chaos, the same process that leads from the baby to the grave.

Having said that, mankind does himself no favours in the way he rapes our planet, greedily consuming its resources while returning filthy pollutants back. We build cities on wetlands, salinate prime agricultural land, denude millions of acres of forest, all the while haphazardly creating and disposing of dangerous chemicals. Whatever natural momentum the earth was declining in has surely been drastically escalated by mankind's activities.

That said, Christian faith provides a positive end to this terrible dilemma.... but I digress.

There you have it then, in a nutshell, my theory on the prevalence of depression.

What I did

Since I considered my depression a result of an unnaturally escalated natural problem ~i.e.: man made pollutants exacerbating and amplifying a natural chaotic tendency~ I decided that the best approach to finding recovery was not in counselling* or drugs**, but in returning as quickly as possible to a personal health regime that achieved two things:

  1. Removed, minimised or countered (as far as was possible) harmful man-made pollutants from within my environment.
  2. Identified anything, natural or otherwise that may be impacting negatively upon me. Allergies are a good example of this, where a very natural thing like eggs or gluten can elicit a response that, in the scheme of things, is not natural.

With the assistance of a wonderful naturopath, an amazingly supportive wife, and perseverance galore I set out on battling my depression. Some of the key recovery stages included:

  • Undertaking a herbal supplement regime that boosted the immune system and energised the adrenal glands.
  • Reducing my consumption of highly processed foods as much as possible
  • Discovering I was Gluten intolerant (this was a huge factor in my full recovery)
  • Creating a home environment as free from man made chemicals as possible

Where I'm at Now

For almost two decades I battled with depression, often feeling suicidal and forever wondering if life would be worth living again.Today I am depression free and I bounce back from the blues.

Of course this theory is the result of years of piecing many things together, of experimenting and discarding what didn't work. It is a theory based on hindsight and experience, yet one I have a fair degree of confidence in promoting to others. In following it I became fully recovered within a relatively short period of months.

I cannot say it will work for everyone, but it worked for me.

* In regards counselling, I do not mean to diminish it as necessitous during depression, however I see it less a means to recovery as I do a means of coping with life until recovery is found.

** In regards drugs I have dubious concerns, however I am no expert and therefore will say nothing of it here. I would only encourage those using anti-depressants to ensure they remain informed.

© 2011 Richard Parr

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Comments 14 comments

lifegate profile image

lifegate 5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

Thanks for sharing some practical information that was lived first hand. Sometimes that speaks louder than words.


UlrikeGrace profile image

UlrikeGrace 5 years ago from Canada

This was so practically relevant! Parrster thank you for your honest sharing, I have also struggled especially in the last 7 years of so with depression. I too have discovered (just last June and by accident) my intollerance to gluten and have cut it out of my system! I found your statement of faith interesting...to say the least...can you share how your faith helped you battle depression. I am still on Meds but am praying that one day I will be totally free of all chemical assistance with this terrible mallady. Thanks Parrster and bless you my brother. Ulrike Grace


parrster profile image

parrster 5 years ago from Oz Author

@lifegate ~ thanks for commenting, sometimes I've found the best place to start in resolving personal problems is not necessarily the spiritually deep but the practically simple.

@UlrikeGrace ~ I'm glad you found it relevant Grace. when I have some time I will add an edition to this hub addressing how faith was my life-raft during this horrible period of life.

God bless


Neytiri profile image

Neytiri 5 years ago from Edmonton

Wow Parrster, this was an amazing hub and opened some insight into my own life and things I have experienced. A very powerful hub indeed. Thanks so much for sharing. You made me re-think some things regarding depression, in experiencing it firsthand myself, and with those that I love.


parrster profile image

parrster 5 years ago from Oz Author

@Neytiri ~ Thank you so much for this encouraging comment. There is more I could say regarding depression, but I am glad the little I did raise has been of some help. God bless


ACSutliff profile image

ACSutliff 5 years ago

The part about gluten intolerance and natural, unprocessed foods makes me think of my sister. She is one of the happiest people I know, and your story also proves that going natural is a viable option for treating depression. Very interesting, and well written! Thanks for the useful information!


parrster profile image

parrster 5 years ago from Oz Author

@AC ~ I didn't say much about it in the hub, but I consider adequate nutrition as an important factor in dealing with depression. Once again, though, it is man's messing with nature that has made so many diets inadequate. I have a friend who is celiac. Prior to this discovery she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital with severe depression and suicidal. Soon after changing her diet (removing gluten) she completely transformed. She, like your sister, is now one of the happiest people I know. Thanks for commenting my friend.


His daughter 5 years ago

People are definitely more willing to listen to you since you have experienced it. A lot of information which reveals it is a very complicated condition and varies itself in many ways and forms. God should never be left out of the mix but should be at the top of this. That has been proven as we experienced some in our household. Makes a big difference!


parrster profile image

parrster 5 years ago from Oz Author

@His daughter ~ Thank you for highlighting something I failed to suitably emphasis. I agree, God calls us to entrust all our lives and circumstances to him ["be anxious for nothing"]. The aim always is to glorify God in all things, [“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Cor 10:31]. That being the case, God is not glorified if I should neglect the needs of my body; it is just as much a part of me, in this life, as my spirit. Although I have heart and spirit maladies requiring God’s considerable & patient attention, it was my physical needs in the case of my depression that were most pressing. In seeking to get back to the way he designed me to function physically, I believe I have put Him first. God bless.


heart4theword profile image

heart4theword 5 years ago from hub

Great topic of study! You are so right, in that depression...effects everyone differently. Thank you for sharing, your insightful words:)


parrster profile image

parrster 5 years ago from Oz Author

@heart4theword ~ thanks for stopping by to read and comment; appreciated.


Binaya.Ghimire 5 years ago

My father had suffered from acute depression, once my mother too was on medication for depression. My parents survived depression when they became religious.Your story is useful and inspiring.


parrster profile image

parrster 5 years ago from Oz Author

@Binaya.Ghimire ~ Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, the power of faith in it's ability to lift the spirit cannot be understated in regards depression.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

"My hang nail is worse than your broken arm" perfectly describes, I think, why resolving depression is so difficult. I have a friend who locks the doors, turns off the phone and shuts out the world for days over what I consider "minor" issues, but which I know to her are quite overwhelming.

I myself learned years ago that nutrition plays a large part in how we perceive the normal trials and tribulations of life. If I forgot to take B-Complex before going off to work, by lunch I'd be convinced the world was better off without me. That's a far cry, though, from several earlier periods in my life when I was truly depressed for months and gave serious thought to suicide but somehow toughed it out without drugs or therapy.

A friend's husband wasn't so lucky. His widow and I both credit his taking anti-depressants far too long caused him to get even more depressed, which resulted in his suicide.

The one thing I noticed during my periods of depression was the lack of sympathy and support. Had I had a broken leg - an actual, visible injury - I would've been showered with good wishes and offers of help. Sadly, the clinically depressed are not only depressing to be around, people tend to avoid them as if the cause is a contagious disease.

You are lucky, parrster, that you had a spouse willing to hang in for the long haul and help discover the true cause of your depression.

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