I am in the process of reading a fabulous new book called ‘Lost Connections’ by Johann Hari, it is helping me to further understand Depression and its cause.
Johann suffered depression for 20 years and was treated in ‘the normal way’ by GP’s with drugs and antidepressants. The doctor told him that he had a natural shortage of serotonin and therefore he prescribed a drug to make him feel better.
Johann goes on to explain that at first he did feel better but as time went on the effects wore off and so each time when he went back to his GP he was prescribed higher doses. This went on for 13 years.
Johann was a journalist and wanted to find out if the drugs didn’t work for long term why so many people were taking them.
The New Zealand The Government’s drug-buying agency, Pharmac, showed the number of annual prescriptions for SSRI antidepressants rose 71% – from 700,000 to 1.2 million – between 2007 and 2016.
He wanted to know if there was another reason people were feeling depressed other than a chemical disorder in the brain.
This book is so insightful and Johann has included old and new research into antidepressants and it is really worrying to hear how the published results of many of these drug researcher's outcomes are picked to show the very few numbers of people the drugs have helped ignoring the thousands of others who have not been helped and in many cases have become worse.
“Research into chemical antidepressants is dominated by researchers who take money from the drug companies who profit from these drugs,” writes Johann. “They would fund huge numbers of studies, throw away all the ones that suggested the drugs had very limited effects, and release only the ones that showed success. In one trial, the drug was given to 245 patients, but the drug company published the results for only 27 of them. Those 27 patients happened to be the ones the drug seemed to work for.
“But it turns out that, overall, 65-80% of people on antidepressants are depressed again within a year.” Johann goes on to explain that it’s the psychological element of depression that particularly interests him.
“If you are depressed, you’re not a machine with broken parts; you’re a person with unmet needs. Depression is simply a sign that something is wrong.”
Johann argues that, rather than resorting to prescription medicine, we should be looking at what is lacking in our lives. He details a selection of different areas that he believes have some part in causing depression and anxiety.
a sense of not having meaningful work
loneliness and alienation from others
a lack of meaningful values
a struggle to be respected, and
a lack of easy access to the natural world
Is it any wonder then we are seeing a rise in depression!?
What are the real causes and how can we avoid them?
There are simply too many reasons for me to list here but I do suggest you purchase the book for further information. What I will tell you though is as per the title of the book, there is a lot to be said for our culture not being as connected.
We are tribal people and need to be with others and have a need to fit in and feel useful. Nowadays our culture is very different...with us going to work, coming home and shutting ourselves away. Worse still, depression is linked to not having a purpose. So if you are working in a mundane job where you don’t feel valued then you are more likely to suffer from depression, especially if you are a bit of a loner as well.
Mid-life crisis is often the result of the children leaving home and the job being less fulfilling and we feel we are losing our identity. This can make us either make a dramatic change of direction (which is a good thing) or shut ourselves off and go through life on auto-pilot, just existing rather than living.
Another major cause Johann explains is traumatic events or feelings of disconnection and powerlessness in our early childhood. This carries through into our adult life and from my experience with my clients, often reappears in mid-life, causing anxiety, depression and confusion as to where it has come from.
So what can you do?
Reconnect with others
Get back into the community and get to know your neighbours
Help others - the best way to improve your happiness is to make someone else happy, a friendly smile or compliment doesn’t cost you anything but can make someone else’s day.
Join a club or find a new hobby where you get to meet other people
Volunteer a few hours a month or a week to help a cause. Wwe all need to give back, again it will improve your serotonin levels when you see how you have helped someone else.
Be grateful. Think of 3 things you are grateful for in the last 24 hours before you go to bed at night and when you wake up in the morning. It could be something as simple as a bright sunny day, or a great cup of coffee, a hug from a friend or family member, just re-live it in your mind and be grateful.
Is your job fulfilling your needs? If not is there something else you could do that would give you a feeling of purpose.
If you need help from overcoming childhood trauma please contact me.
Bye for now