Sunday, December 22, 2013

Symptoms and Prevalence of Depression

Been a little down lately? Having trouble motivating yourself to get out of bed? Is the scale going up because you have been spending a little too much of your time curled up in front of the TV with that bag of chips or feeling the need for chocolate all day? Or is the scale dropping, not because you have been enthusiastically been working on your health, but because you just have no interest in food. What about sleep? Do you lay awake for hours, unable to drift off or are you at the opposite end of the scale? Do you feel like sleeping all the time? Do the things that used to excite and interest you just simply hold no pleasure for you? If you are noticing several of these symptoms, you may be suffering from depression.

If so, you are certainly not alone. Our culture seems to be drowning in depression. Most people will suffer from depression at least one time during their lifetime. Statistics on depression are growing for all age groups, even young children. The numbers are alarming. So why are the rates of depression so high?

This society, this era, has more material goods than probably any other. While economic times are more difficult right now than they have been in the previous few years, the average person in this country is wealthy when compared to most of the world's population. Even those on the bottom of the economic scale have access to more resources than not only those in other nations but those in other periods of history. It should be obvious that material goods in themselves are not the answer. Some of the wealthiest people are the most dysfunctional and depressed.

Why are we so depressed? I think there are many answers to that question, but here I will express just a few of those that I think are prevalent.

  1. The first one is that our society is endlessly seeking an easy, problem free life. The media promotes the idea of "having it all". Women should be thin, beautiful, and be sought after by the men they meet. Forget about the concept of "aging gracefully". We shouldn't age at all! Men should be financially successful, drive a car that makes people's heads turn, and attract all the female heads that are turning. Marriage should be idyllic and full of romance or you should move on to the next relationship until you find the "one" that meets all your needs. For many, life can become so caught up in these pursuits that some of the most basic of life's principles are left in the dust.

  2. For some the problem goes much deeper. Yes, it is possible that there is some biological component, a predisposition that tends toward depression. But even with that, depression needs some kind of trigger. It can seem to come "out of nowhere," just swooping down like a bird of prey with its claws bared. It can appear to have no direct correlation with anything or anyone at the time. In that case, there are usually some undealt with hurts or trauma from the past that could go back as far as childhood. It can come from a grief that has not been entirely processed. It can come from unforgiveness or bitterness that never had a chance to be rooted out.

  3. For others, it could mean that there is a current situation that is known and has been going on for a long enough period of time that change or relief seems hopeless. These circumstances could be relational, financial, physical, or spiritual. A number of issues can trigger depression. When hope has dwindled away, we can lose our perspective. We are unable to see the answers or solutions.

The good news is that there are answers for depression. The first step is to recognize what you are dealing with. The next step is to take active measures to get help. It may take some time. It may take some work to dig out the roots of depression, but it is a treatable condition.

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