Depression is the most prominent psychological disorder in the western world. Depression originates as a socially driven condition. In the U.S. about 10 million people suffer from significant depression each year and the numbers are increasing substantially. In 2014 depression was 24% greater than it was in 1999.
People born since 1945 are 10 times more likely to suffer from depression than their parents, and women run nearly twice the risk of depression as men. By 2020, depression will be the second most disabling condition on the planet, ranking just behind heart disease.
Fifteen percent of depressed people commit suicide. Americans are twice as likely to die by suicide as from homicide, with nearly 45,000 people killing themselves annually. Seventy percent of those suicides are committed by middle aged men (with guns). Depression is also the second leading cause of death amongst young people.
Living with depression is like living at the bottom of a sea of mud. The environment pushes against you in every imaginable direction. Getting out is almost impossible. Even the simplest functions of daily can be extremely difficult. It is a living hell.
Let's look at the way depression develops. It starts out with a difficult emotional challenge, and so the inner child starts out facing a painful circumstance. Adding significantly to this condition, and essential to the creation of depression, is the subsequent total rejection of the inner child by the adult.
Having been rebuffed by her parents and now frozen out by the older self, the wounded and defeated inner child retreats into a cave of isolation for protection. The despair and desperation that result from a seemingly impossible situation creates the condition that we know as depression.
In 30+ years of private practice, every case of depression I have ever encountered has hinged upon a reluctance by the adult to accept and address the pain that his or her inner child carries. It isn't that there is no emotion - the adult is racked with it - but it is a bleed-through from the wounded inner child. It is her cry for help. The inner child is crying for someone to rescue her because she has been rejected by the adult and has nowhere else to turn. People thus tormented often turn to drugs and alcohol in an effort to escape their dilemma.
The split between the adult and the inner child can be confusing to the casual observer. Especially because in society we equate success with happiness. More often than not however, the two are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Anthony Bourdain fought in his early years with a heroin addiction, illuminating his own inner struggle. Kate Spade was seriously depressed and Robin Williams fought with a debilitating mental condition that made it impossible for him to work.
And when we confuse who we are with what we do, when we lose the later, as in William's case, the loss is devastating. But from the outside, we are blinded by their worldly accomplishments. After all, by social standards, these people should "have it all," totally ignoring their personal inner struggles.
What is really telling is that depression is almost unknown in tribal societies and amongst the Amish in our own culture. I will say again, depression is a socially driven condition. The integrated nature of these communities brings personal concerns to the surface and does not allow them to get lost in the private hell of individual isolation.
Dealing with depression differs from other psychological issues because of the rejection of the child's pain by the adult. To heal the condition means first overcoming the adult's resistance and then dealing with the pain that the client has avoided her whole life.
No sane person wants to hang out with her inner pain. It's messy, it's disruptive and it brings up great deal of unpleasantness. Plus, the pain was totally overwhelming to the child and she will hold strong prohibitions against going back. The unexpressed fear is, "If I go there I will die," because that is how it felt at the time. Plus, because of the adult's rejection, the inner child will be angry, frustrated, defeated and untrusting, adding a significant obstacle to the resolution of the problem.
Most depressed people are so accustomed to living under the dark cloak of their emotions that they have no idea what it feels like to be happy. They have no standard against which to judge the pain that has accompanied them since childhood.
Depressed people have an excuse to not fully engage in life. They withhold from partners and friends, pull back from life and do not fully engage with their own children. The false sense of security created through their emotional distance is very unsatisfying, but some people live their entire lives that way.
And, when their relationships fail or become stressful, as they must, the failure reinforces their existing feelings of unworthiness. They then spiral further downward. In that regard, (unfortunately) the depression is doing exactly what it was designed to do.
Unfortunately too, Western culture erects significant barriers to personal interaction and in many other ways creates a perfect environment for the creation of depression. And there is little help for people as conservative politicians in Congress and state legislatures have pared public mental health funding beyond the bone.
So, one question to ask is, "Am I depressed?" Or, "Is my partner depressed?" Depression exists in a hundred shades of grey, and each of us reacts differently, but this list of depressive symptoms developed by Joan Larson may be helpful:
· Withdrawal from activity; isolating yourself
· Continual fatigue, lethargy
· Lack of motivation, boredom, loss of interest in life
· Feeling helpless, immobilized
· Sleeping too much; using sleep to escape reality
· Insomnia, particularly early morning insomnia (waking very early and being unable to get back to sleep)
· Unresponsive to good news
· Loss of appetite or binge eating
· Ongoing anxiety
· Silent and unresponsive around people
· An "I don't care" attitude
· Easily upset or angered, lashing out at others
· Inability to concentrate
· Listening to mood music persistently
· Self-destructive behavior
· Suicidal thoughts or plans
Everyone exhibits some of these symptoms from time to time, the question is how strong and persistent are they in your life? If you have a significant number of the symptoms listed above, give serious attention to the situation. And if you have ANY thoughts about committing suicide, know that you are not alone. Breakout of your shell and call the suicide prevention hot line: 1-800-273-8255.
All emotions have a physical component, after all, we are physical creatures. The stress of any chronic emotion can be damaging. The stress of depression wreaks havoc on the physical body. Men with heart conditions who are depressed are almost 5 times more likely to have heart attacks.
The use of antidepressants to "treat" depression has grown into a huge industry. I don't like the side effects of antidepressants, and have found them to be effective in only about 1/3 of cases. Although they do help to "calm thing down," they do not address the underlying causes of the depression. However, I have found that all but the most severe cases of depression can be successfully helped with commonly available amino acids.
Aminos are the fundamental "building blocks" of the hundreds of proteins and other chemicals used by the body every day. And when properly supplemented, aminos can have a powerful impact on depression, with remarkably few side effects. Plus, they are considerably cheaper than prescription pharmaceuticals. (Part II
of this series deals with aminos in more detail.)
We are learning that what at first seems like an unrelated condition can have a powerful role in creating depression. This involves the overgrowth of a common intestinal yeast called Candida Albicans. This condition, known as CRC, is rampant in our society, largely because of our diet, our heavy reliance on antibiotics and interestingly, because of the use of mercury in dental filings.
People suffering from CRC are depressed, exhausted and anxious. They crave sugar and sometimes alcohol. Their mental retention is often impaired. Their immune systems are seriously compromised so that foods cause them to bloat and produce allergic/addictive responses.
These people can either put on significant amounts of weight, or be seriously underweight. The depression that results from CRC will not lift until the colonies of yeast are brought under control. Information about candida-related complex can be found on the internet.
(Part II of this series discusses aminos in greater detail, and Part III looks more deeply into the psychology of depression.)
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