Depression: A Decision, not a Disease
What do the Definitions say?
A definition found on the Internet goes as follows:
Depression:An illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts, that affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be wished away.People with a depressive disease cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people with depression.
The World Health Organization defines depression as follows:
Depression is acommonmental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. These problems can become chronic or recurrentand lead to substantial impairments in an individual's ability to take care of his or her everyday responsibilities. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide, a tragic fatality associated with the loss of about 850 000 lives every year.
The Power of Belief
A child, who gets hurt, cries a little and then starts laughing and playing again. The child has not yet learnt the meaning of sadness, depression, being in the blues and similar words/phrases. So life is one big adventure full of healthy trial and error, of falling down and getting up again and again.
Even a child born with out an arm or a leg keeps on smiling and laughing and lighting up the world. Its only when the child grows up and learns the meaning of being handicapped and all the isinuations associated with it does the child begin to feel and act differently.
It is our education - formal and informal - which leads to the creation of our beliefs which in turn are the roots of our thoughts and our behaviors.
For something to become a "belief", it has to be
1. Repeated multiple times, and
2. Reinforced: by different people, through different sources (books/websites), different words that mean the same thing
Techniques like Hypnosis and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) attempt to change a person's beliefs about him/herself. The change in belief (or self image) leads to changes in behavior.
Factors leading to Belief in "Depression"
We are being educated about disease. You know what I mean when the WHO (a health organization) emphasizes disease rather than health. Like Hilter said "If you repeat a lie many times, people are bound to start believing it".
The following are the major players involved in the propagation of information about "Depression" and other diseases.
- Pharmaceutical industry: these are the times when there is a pill for everything, from stomach pain, to sleeplessness to birth control. The medical industry stands to make billions of dollars each year by selling the pills and this is not an opportunity that they will let go of.
- Media: either through books, the Internet or other sources including Television, we are constantly bombarded with the details of various diseases. These days whenever one hears of a disease, we go and look it up on the Internet. This creates an attitude of focusing on the disease, rather than on health.
It was not too long ago ( a few decades maybe) when doctors did not share the details of the diseases with the patients. Instead they said "take this medicine and you will be fine". The patient then focused on being fine and remembered the states and feelings of being healthy and soon regained health.
A new Science of Belief
Dr Bruce Lipton is a world renowned cell biologist. His research at StanfordUniversity’s School of Medicine, between 1987 and 1992, revealed that theenvironment, operating though the cell membrane, controlled the behavior and physiology of the cell, turning genes on and off. His discoveries, which ran counter to the established scientific view that life is controlled by the genes, presaged one of today’s most important fields of study, the science of epigenetics. Two major scientific publications derived from these studies defined the molecular pathways connecting the mind and body. Many subsequent papers by other researchers have since validated his concepts and ideas.
In his groundbreaking book, "The Biology of Belief" Dr Lipton cites clinically proven cases in which belief played the critical part in healing (or death):
- Knee arthritis patients who received fake surgery recovered just as well as patients who received real surgery. (Both groups received the same post-operation care, including exercise.) They believed they received real treatment, and that was enough to throw away their canes and play basketball with their grandchildren.
- In depth analysis of FDA data shows antidepressant pills did not outperform the sugar pills. The reason the depression patients got better was because they believed the pill would help.
- A case of a cancer patient who died some time after the initial treatment, as expected with this type of cancer. However, the autopsy revealed he didn’t die of cancer — meaning he died because he, along with the doctors, believed he would die
Please take the time to see the following two videos
A way out
We as humans, are by definition not robots. We are creatures bristling with emotions, full of desires, hopes and dreams. But sometimes things do go wrong, and then we can feel down...
we are also responsible (read response-able). We have the ability to choose our response. To quote Dr Stephen Covey, author of "The Seven Habits of highly effective people", "Between stimulus and response, one has the freedom to choose.” i.e. the power to decide.
A principle of psychology says: "what you focus on becomes your experience". So if its springtime and the trees are blooming and the birds are chirping and one chooses to instead focus on the pain in the stomach, then obviously its pain the will become the focus of attention and will dominate the person's experience, blotting everything out.
So as we have the power to decide what we focus on, we are the creators of our own experience. Life is full of ups and downs. We can't have happiness without sadness, since often things are defined by their opposites.
Each experience teaches us something. And life goes on. Like the clock never stops ticking whether its sunny or raining outside.
A translation of an Urdu poem by famous poet Dr Muhammad Iqbal goes something like
"O Eagle, don't be discouraged by the strength of the opposing wind
It only blows to make you fly higher and higher"
So.... Worry... or Be Happy! Either way its your DECISION.