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?
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
- The Stress factor
- 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:
- Removed, minimised or countered (as far as was possible) harmful man-made pollutants from within my environment.
- 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.
- THE CHEMICAL EDGE
So, most specifically, this site explores many of the health harms done by 100,000 or so new substances, both individually and synergistically, which have been released into the natural environment in the last seventy years.
- Environmental Pollution & Chronic Depression
Environmental Pollution & Chronic Depression. Scientists have begun to focus on environmental factors---such as pollution, living conditions and food additives and preservatives---as major potential determinants of health and safety. The...
- Chemical World
An online magazine that highlights two NIGMS-funded scientists who are doing cutting-edge biomedical research.
© 2011 Richard Parr