Is depression a natural reaction to an insane world?
This is a thought I have been pondering for a while.
The default to view depression as "something wrong", or a "brain chemical imbalance" or as "a disease" or something that "needs to be fixed" or requires "medication" or "therapy" appears to be the most common response of practically everyone.
From doctors, to psychiatrists, to therapists, to the general population, to the depressed individuals themselves... the universal belief appears to be that "the person needs to get help".
But what if... the living in depressed state is correct? What if it isn't an "imbalance" or isn't something "wrong"? What if being depressed is the only natural state to be in for an intelligent, empathetic, compassionate, informed, thinking individual to exist in the current state of our world?
What if to NOT be depressed about is the true indication of mental sickness?
I'm not saying that being depressed is fun in any way... most people on this forum would be well aware that it sucks. But that is not what I'm saying.
What I mean is... could existing in a state of depression be completely natural for someone living in a place where so many things are obviously terrible... both on a personal level and in the world as a whole?
My reasons for this perspective are numerous. Far too many to write in only 2500 words. But basically...
The real world is an extremely depressing place for any person that cares at all about anything outside of themselves.
Eg. If you care about animals... the reality is many beautiful species are already lost forever, many others are so close to the verge of extinction that even if everyone worldwide decided to do everything they could to save them... they would still be lost. At home there are people that still buy people animals as christmas gifts, refuse to desex their pets, the massive amount of pets put down in pounds annually. There is backyard animal cruelty, the dog racing industry using live bait, shooting race horses with legs, women's hormonal treatments for menapause, the meat industry, birds choking on our plastic half a world away, overfishing. The list goes on and on.
It is reality and it is depressing. Care about animals and feeling "depressed" about it IS correct. And that is one tiny subject in a plethora of subjects.
3 billion people in starving poverty, the water wars, religious fanatics, corrupt governments, womens rights violations, slavery, wars, child rape, etc etc
It's the people that are not depressed that worry me.
Hello Unbeliever, have you heard of the expression rose-coloured glasses? The idea that your view of the world is tinted to only see the positives and ignore the negatives. For those of us with depression, I feel we have glasses that do the exact opposite.
If you are depressed, then you are naturally inclined towards seeing only the depressing things that happen in this world. But it doesn't follow that just because there are depressing things occurring in the world, that we should be in an endless state of despair because of it, particularly over the things that we can't control.
Perhaps you are looking to attach a kind of nobility to your depression because you feel oppressed by it. But it would be perfectly possible to reverse everything in your post above, listing all the wonderful things about the world, and end with "I can't understand why anyone would be depressed!"
It's a bit too simplistic for me.
Unbeliever, I agree with you, how can you look around at the world and possibly be happy with what you see?
I am always looking for ways to be happy and I have heard one way is being grateful. I tried it and found it exhausting because every time I had a shower I would think of all the Syrian refugees who hadn't had a shower for weeks. Every time I turned on the tap I would think of all the people in Africa who had no clean drinking water, and so on. Eventually I had to find a way to be grateful for what I had without attaching a story about people who didn't have what I have because I was just suffering too much.
A quote I heard recently was "you can't make yourself so unhappy that it will make another person happy". Suffering over the dismal state of the world only makes you sick and then another burden to the world when you can't function properly.
For someone like me who is often paralysed with depression I have only two options, try to recover or just give up and die. I can't suffer enough to take away all the suffering of the world. There comes a point where to seek my recovery I have to insulate myself from the world, not to be deliberately uninformed but to preserve my own sanity.
It is a modern phenomenon that we have this huge media monster that churns out news at lightning speed and delivers it all to us in overwhelming amounts. The news programs understand that it is the scary news that grabs the most attention, so that is what they feed us in an unrelenting diet.
When you think about it, it is pointless worrying about things that are outside your sphere of influence. I can influence the lives of my family and co-workers by being kind to them, but there is nothing I can do about the 50 million displaced persons and refugees in the world, so there is little point in churning over it.
So that is why I do not watch the news and I suggest anyone trying to recover from depression doesn't either. You will always find out on the grapevine about anything important and 99.9% of news is just designed to scare you. You need to be kind to yourself and that means not scaring yourself or worrying needlessly.
There is good in the world too, you just need to focus on that and try to hold a positive vision for humanity else you will just be dragged down. I also believe that by dwelling on the negativity in the world you help to hold that in place. What you place your attention on tends to grow, so look for the good everywhere and you will find it.
I agree with your opinions expressed above. Sometimes I feel a little guilty but it really is nearly impossible for one person to make a difference. Other times when I feel badly about the state of the world I remind myself of my age- I'm nearly 60 & I won't be around to be majorly effected by all the bad stuff in the world. And if by chance nuclear war does break out before I depart this earth, I'm sure I won't outlive that catastrophe. That doesn't sound very mature or caring, but what good would it do if I were to worry everyday about the future? I can really only influence my little corner of the world. I try to be a loving companion to my husband, a loving & supportive mother & grandmother, as well as a true friend. Oh!, & a good puppy mother!!! A very interesting topic. Cheers, Lyn.
There's a lot of black and white thinking in this thread, which is, haha - a symptom of depression!
It's possible to feel compassion and empathy for the terrible things that are happening in this world without being overwhelmed by it. In fact, this is what spurs people to donate to charity, volunteer their time, write letters for Amnesty International, join that protest, all sorts of things.
If there's a cause you're passionate about, get out there and do something about it. It might be as small as volunteering at your local soup kitchen if homelessness upsets you, or even less than that, giving some spare change to the person sleeping in a doorway in the city.
Concentrate on the things you can control, and give what you can back to the world.
The world has always been a mixture of the good and the evil, and always will be.
I do see why you think the way you do , there is some evidence of mental illness bring natural.
Take ADHD. The ultra alert male might have ADHD as a cave man. Could his illness gave developed from the fear of defending his cave family? His food? His weapons?
The issue of depressed people needing medication is so they can function in our modern society. I've long advocated for severely depressed people to seek out a country environment for this reason (Google) Topic: be radical- beyondblue. This is because concrete, traffic lights, red tape and so on can effect us heavily. Some need to return to basic living.
To be successful at this " remedy" we also need to simplify our finances, grow our own chemical free food and reverse the modern world effect.
In terms of humans falling into depression due to the world being wrong....its more complicated than that but IMO your theory does have some merit. But 300 years ago or 600 years ago one could be depressed for not being able to get warm or find food. In those cases I'd father tolerate traffic lights.
I'm with you, the world's so messed up that I wonder how some people manage to be happy. I guess they're just better at ignoring it than we are. Sometimes I wish I could be like them, and just block it all out, but generally, I prefer to know the truth, even if it is crushing.
I don't think I can stand this world. There's too much pain, cruelty, suffering, and violence here. I suppose we just have to try and soldier on, no matter how insane this world is. It's not like we have any other options, at least until humanity starts colonising Mars, in which case I will be the first in line.
Hope it doesn't drive you too crazy,
It has nearly driven me crazy but why it hasn't? Because I made proactive steps to maintain my sanity.
I was raised in Melbourne's western suburbs and hated every moment. I was a country boy with farming roots stuck in the city.
So at 17yrs and 4 days old I joined the RAAF. Eventually I realised I desperately needed a "back to basics" lifestyle. I now live in a rural town of 200 people, visit a large town for shopping when needed and grow our own vegies. To seek out your comfort zone is the first step because for me, city living is unnatural. It will also fuel ones view of an insane world.
I limit my activities on the computer. I run my Facebook it doesn't run me, limit friends and dump toxic people quickly....its my Facebook without obligations
The most important thing for you Jack, is to get things into perspective. The insane part of life isn't going to change. Humans have fought world wars and won to give democracy a chance and although democracy is pathetic in many ways the alternatives are far worse.
Greed is rampant while poor souls starve. We are as individuals powerless to combat it. World leaders need to unite more and that takes crises to happen.
If our focus is only on the bad our minds will be negative. There needs to be a balance and this positive inner self has to be found and energised. Once you become a positive person life is never the same again.
Eg. Google the following
Youtube Maharaji prem rawat sunset
YouTube maharaji prem rawat the perfect instrument
Topic: 30 minutes can change your life- beyondblue
Maharaji is a spiritual man no religion that puts things into perspective. He has many YouTube videos.
Having a good happy life is like freedom....you only really appreciate it if you lose it.
This is no more apparent when a doctor one day tells you that you have a terminal disease.
At 31yo I was told I had had a heart attack. I gave up smoking. Then 3 months later I was told it was a panic attack and my heart is fine and strong.
I never smoked another cigarette. And through listening to Maharaji saw the sunset in an entirely different way.