Depression is another form of Epidemic - Seeker's Thoughts

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Depression is another form of Epidemic

Crops don’t grow in drought. Fish die when the water dries up, as do people when there is nothing to eat and drink. Equally, anything that prevents us from matching up our innate emotional needs in the world threatened our mental health.

Depression is a common illness worldwide, with more than 264 million people affected.

Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. Especially when long-lasting and with moderate or severe intensity, depression may become a serious health condition. It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at work. At school and in the family. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. 

According to WHO, Close to 800,000 people die to suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29 –year’s olds.

Although there are known, effective treatments for mental disorders, between 76% and 85% of people in low-and middle-income countries receive no treatment for their disorder.

Barriers to effective care include a lack of resources, lack of trained health-care providers, and social stigma associated with mental disorders. Another barrier to effective care is an inaccurate assessment.

In countries of all income levels, people who are depressed are often not correctly diagnosed and others who do not have the disorder are too often misdiagnosed and prescribed antidepressants.

Depression is the leading global disability, and unipolar (as opposed to bipolar) depression is the 1 of the  leading cause of early death, it calculates. The link between suicides, the second leading cause of death for young people.

Around the world, two people killed themselves every minute.

While rates for depression and other common mental health conditions vary considerably, the US is the “most depressed” country in the world, followed closely by Colombia Ukraine, the Netherlands, and France. At the other end of the scale are japan, Nigeria, and China.

Depression in low- and middle-income countries like India

Over five crores Indians suffered from depression, a major contributor to global suicides that occurred mainly in low- and middle-income countries like India in 2015, a WHO study has said.
The World Health Organisation in its new global health estimates on depression for 2015 said while over five crores Indians suffered from depression, over three crores others suffered from anxiety disorders.

The report titled 'Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders - Global Health Estimates' said over two-thirds of global suicides were in low- and middle-income countries like India in 2015.
The WHO document said that 322 million people are living with depression worldwide and nearly half of them live in Southeast Asian and Western Pacific regions, reflecting relatively large populations of India and China. 

"The total number of people living with depression in the world is 322 million. Nearly half of these people live in the South-East Asia Region and Western Pacific Region, reflecting the relatively larger populations of those two Regions which include India and China.

The total estimated number of people living with depression increased by 18.4 percent between 2005 and 2015.

What causes depression?

Things have imposed since people with mental illness were believed to be possessed by the devil and cast out of their communities, or hanged as witches. But there are remains a widespread misunderstanding of the illness, particularly the persistent trope that people with depression should just “buck up”, or “get out more”.

A contrasting opinion is provided by the psychiatrist Dr. Tim Cantopher’s book depressive illness: The Curse of the Strong.

He argues there is a part of the brain called the limbic system that acts as a thermostat, controlling various functions of the body including mood- and restoring equilibrium after the normal ups and downs of life.

The limbic system is a circuit of nerves, transmitting signals to each other via two chemical, serotonin, and noradrenalin, of which people with depression have a deficit.

According to this description, depressive illness is predominantly a physical, not mental, illness.

 Cantopher says that when under stress, weak lazy people give in quickly; strong people keep going, redouble their efforts, fight any pressure to give up and so push the limbic system to breaking point. However, there is no scientific evidence it supports this theory, as it’s impossible to experiment on live brains.

Other commonly agreed cause or triggers are past trauma or abuse; a genetic predisposition to depression, which may or may not be the same as family history; life stresses, including financial problems or bereavement; chronic pain or illness; and taking drugs, including cannabis, ecstasy, and heroin.

The subject of much debate, there is a school of thought that severe stress or certain illnesses can trigger an excessive response from the immune system, causing inflammation in the brain, which in turn causes depression.

Types and symptoms

Depending on the number and severity of symptoms, a depressive episode can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe.

A key distinction is also made between depression in people who have or do not have a history of manic episodes. Both types of depression can be chronic (i.e. over an extended period) with relapses, especially if they go untreated.

Recurrent depressive disorder: this disorder involves repeated depressive episodes. During these episodes, the person experiences depressed mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, and reduced energy leading to diminished activity for at least two weeks. Many people with depression also suffer from anxiety symptoms, disturbed sleep, and appetite, and may have feelings of guilt or low self-worth, poor concentration and even symptoms that cannot be explained by a medical diagnosis.

Depending on the number and severity of symptoms, a depressive episode can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe.

An individual with a mild depressive episode will have some difficulty in continuing with ordinary work and social activities but will probably not cease to function completely. During a severe depressive episode, it is unlikely that the sufferer will be able to continue with social, work, or domestic activities, except to a limited extent.

Bipolar affective disorder: this type of depression typically consists of both manic and depressive episodes separated by periods of normal mood. Manic episodes involve elevated or irritable mood, over-activity, the pressure of speech, inflated self-esteem, and a decreased need for sleep.

Situational depression

In some instances, depression is situational. Loss of a loved one, illness, and job loss creates circumstances that are painful. Working through the loss is more healing than medicating the pain. It is essential to address the underlying causes and not simply suppress the symptoms.

 The difficulty is that in our quick-fix mentality, we believe that if we can suppress the symptoms, then all is well. When we come to see depression not as the enemy but as an expression of struggle, the epidemic will likely subside as we come to honor the integrity of our human spirit. We do not ordinarily grow without engaging in struggle. So the irony is that by medicating our symptoms with psychotropic medication, we ensure continued stagnation, for the struggle is never resolved toward a breakthrough; it is merely placated.

Much of what we call depression is a typical life struggle around loss, fear, and grave situational issues that have become pathologies for profit. Yet, there also lies deeper despair that accompanies living an incoherent life as a stranger in a strange land.

Depression, and anxiety for that matter, are the most likely outcomes of living in and with the unmerciful and misguided constraints of a tired and destructive worldview. Our constructed reality is, for many people, depressive and anxiety-inducing. Feeling as such ironically suggests that many depressed people are merely mirroring the effects of a somewhat incongruous, if not insane, way of living fostered by the society itself. In effect, the way that we are living is producing tragic results.

Are people dysfunctional?

Our therapeutic community attaches labels, such as “dysfunctional.” To people and families. People are not dysfunctional; social systems are.

People suffer and experience pain. We are human beings, not machines that dysfunction.

Such terminology expresses contempt for the human spirit.

A society that produces such staggering rates of depression is dysfunctional. Our culture has created this epidemic.

Part of the problem is that we become corralled into a consensus of belief that does not serve our higher purpose. The desire to fit in one conform induces us to lose our inner voice.

We are products of a cultural belief system that ignores or devalues matters of the heart and the turns and pints its accusatory finger at those who suffer.

When we do so, we victimize the victim. If we began to look at the depression as symptomatic of living depressing lives, we’d begin to understand the cure lies in addressing what our souls are longing for.

When we suppress the voice of our soul, depression arises. Depression surfaces for a reason. The symptoms of depression are crying out for our attention

The epidemic of depression is simply indicative of lives lived errantly without joy or purpose.

People who feel passion for their work and friends and love their families and partners don't become depressed as often as the population at large. People who are in touch with their spirit and enjoy a sense of community don't incline toward depression. People who maintain a sense of wonder and awe don't become depressed. Depression isn't the enemy. It's simply a warning sign that we're not on the right path. Our disconnection and folly pursuits of happiness may have much to do with this.

Life would bring certain periods and events in which one might feel some melancholy. Sadness is appropriate at times. When people experienced such sadness, friends and family may have supported them through those difficult times. But they weren't told that there was something wrong with them. Loving support is the most powerful agent in the treatment of depression. When we lose our compassion and relegate depressed people to their diagnosis, we tend to dehumanize them.

How our society breeds anxiety, depression and dysfunction

A dominant theme in our society is that you should be happy, and if you're not, there's something wrong with you. Life can be difficult at times. It is in the labeling of people as depressed that the greatest injustice is done.

There aren't people who are indeed clinically depressed, but simply that the indiscriminate manner in which diagnoses are meted out to people without proper discrimination is grossly absurd. When a clinical diagnosis of depression is made in the astronomical numbers witness in some country's culture, it speaks to something much larger: a society that has lost its way.

A way forward

WHO Suggest - There are effective treatments for moderate and severe depression. Health-care providers may offer psychological treatments such as behavioral activation, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), or antidepressant medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).

Health-care providers should keep in mind the possible adverse effects associated with antidepressant medication, the ability to deliver either intervention (in terms of expertise, and/or treatment availability), and individual preferences. Different psychological treatment formats for consideration include individual and/or group face-to-face psychological treatments delivered by professionals and supervised lay therapists.

Psychosocial treatments are also effective for mild depression. Antidepressants can be an effective form of treatment for moderate-severe depression but are not the first line of treatment for cases of mild depression. They should not be used for treating depression in children and are not the first line of treatment in adolescents, among whom they should be used with extra caution.

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