Understanding and Overcoming Depression
Men, Women and Depression
According to an Abstract in the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Psychiatry, dated October, 2013, in a worldwide study women were found to be twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than men. In America, boys are preferred over girls by a margin of 40% to 28%. Things are far more slanted in other parts of the world where girl babies are often murdered in countries where the number of children is restricted. Thus taking the worldwide preference for male children into consideration and with women more likely to be open about their suffering than men, it is not difficult to see how the JAMA numbers make sense. It is not surprising then that the concept put forth in this site, that Depression is caused by a "death wish" from a child not wanting to live after being rejected by his or her parents, corresponds in such a striking way to these findings.
Common Treatments For Depression
The most common treatment for Depression, dispensed by the medical community is with drugs given with the objective of improving the mood of the patient. Other approaches labeled "Alternative Treatments"are thought by some, especially in the holistic community, as a better way to treat depression and is implemented by using a variety of approaches, including those using nutrition (which include modifying ones diet and/or taking herbal supplements), exercise, positive thinking, yoga, meditation, acupuncture and other mood altering processes.
While drug use among those who appear to be suffering from depression may work well for some, it is my firm belief that those who benefit the most from this protocol do not have "true depression" but are instead suffering from a mood disorder. I have spoken to many people who suffer from depression and who are medicated and they still are affected by depressive episodes regardless of the variety and magnitude of their dosage. This is because for "true depression" a down or dark mood is only the symptom and not the cause.
As for alternative treatments, they are helpful, again because they improve own's mood, but do not address the underlying cause of depression, which is discuss in detail in the previous page of this site.
A New Way of Talking About Depression
One of the problems around understanding just what constitutes depression is the language we use in describing our feelings when we feel bad, whether we actually suffer from depression or not. The issue is that when we use expressions like “I feel depressed” or “does that depress you” we naturally have a tendency of associating the term depression with various states and degrees of feeling bad. This would not be a problem except for the fact that when someone actually suffers from what I call "true depression" there is more than just a quantitative difference among the various states or degrees of feeling bad but a qualitative one as well.
For instance the medical profession considers someone clinically depressed or having “major depression” when they satisfy certain criteria relating to the longevity and severity of the symptoms. I am unfortunately quite familiar with this type of depression that often requires electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), that is commonly known as “shock treatments” and hospitalization at a psychiatric facility because my father was one those unfortunate sufferers. But though I myself did not suffer quite as badly as he, any episodes with depression are always painful to endure. Also, I recall that when I was younger (about thirty) and asked my primary care doctor if I had depression he told me no because the severity and longevity of my episodes did not pass a specific threshold that he was apparently taught technically constituted having depression. But I had it all the same. And it got worse with age and circumstances until I found the cure and became my own first client and have been depression free ever since.
There is another less known and discussed condition that is part of "true depression" which carries the technical term Dysthymia and which is always present for a depressive when he or she in not involved in some engaging activity. See Dysthymia: Depression's Negative Baseline in What is Depression for a more in depth discussion.
The bottom line is that you either have depression or you don’t. Just as one is never “slightly pregnant” you may suffer somewhat differently than another but you are still a depressive. So by recognizing this fact we would increase our understanding and not use the word depression in such a casual and undefined manner. Just as someone who has an infectious disease either has the bug or they don’t and would never be referred to as somewhat having malaria, small pox or the like.
We certainly cannot turn back the clock but we can begin to see depression, in all its nasty manifestations, for what it really is and endeavor to use language more precisely to describe it for what it is. Perhaps if we cannot change the way people discuss depression, with this new knowledge in mind we can call it by some unique name which should help at least to minimize the confusion surrounding its identity. Since we are not going to stop people from using the term in various casual ways, perhaps calling what I describe True Depression, will help us to distinguish the actual affliction from down or blue moods and actual mood disorders (which is different from True Depression) .
Why the Nature of Depression Alludes the Medical Community
The story of the blind men and the elephant originated in India. It tells the story of how six blind men who never saw an elephant were allowed to come into contact with it so they could know the nature of the beast. One touched its tail and believed it was like a rope, another touched its leg and thought it was like a tree, one touched its ear and thought it was like a big fan, and so it went. Since their conclusions of what this beast was like were only based on the part they each touched and not the whole animal, they all inferred what they did from the limited knowledge that was gained from their restricted view. Naturally their conclusions were partially correct but they each missed the big picture which could allow them to know the true nature of what an elephant was like.
Similarly the medical, psychological and psychotheraputic communities see pieces of the depression puzzle and come to erroneous conclusions about the true nature of this affliction. While, for the most part, the psychotheraputic community focuses on minimizing the effects of their clients depressive episodes and the medical community focuses on medicating the sufferer to solve the problem, neither get at the cause. So while both approaches can be of some help neither address the essential cause and are thus dealing only with the symptoms. And for example like most headache sufferers know, medication can give you temporary relief but does not cure the problem at its core. The bottom line is that it is diagnosed and treated like a mood disorder, while this aspect is merely a symptom of True Depression and not its cause or source.
While these efforts described above may be helpful they do not cure the person of depression (turn it off) and may even create side effects (some that even may be very dangerous) and false hope and frustrate the sufferer even further. Think of someone who suffers from recurring migraines. Living a better lifestyle that may trigger fewer headaches definitely helps and taking medication once a migraine takes hold can also lessen the suffering but neither could compare to turning off the "migraine switch," if one existed, so that neither life style changes nor medication were necessary.
Many falsely believe that depression is something that you can get like catching a cold. You have it for awhile and then (hopefully) it goes away and if you are susceptible you may get it again in the future. This is true of the episodes experienced by depressives but depression is something you either have or you don't. If you have it then you have had it since you were young, typically very young, and perhaps even right at or after birth. It stems from a death wish that can occur any time in life. When older people have it they generally pass away relatively soon. But when young people, particularly infants have it they often survive and as a result grow up to suffer from lifelong depression. These "depressives" and only these depressives are those who are vulnerable to depressive episodes when they are feeling bad enough. Unfortunately for some this becomes a habit and dooms the sufferer to a life of darkness, misery and even despair.
So one may say it is a case of "which came first the chicken or the egg." Whereas many in the medical community believe that a chemical imbalance in the brain causes depression, I maintain that it is just the opposite, that the depressive episode, creates the imbalance and not the other way around.
Why You Can’t Outwit Depression
Since depression is driven by a self imposed death wish we cannot outwit it because one cannot outwit him or herself. There is no way you can be smarter or more wily than an opponent who knows your every thought, desire and motivation before you even express them. When you try to out-think, outfox or defeat yourself you always lose. The only way you can defeat depression is to turn off its power switch so that the opponent ceases to exist. For while it is turned on you will be shadow boxing, where whatever you do to your shadow, you do to yourself as well. The only way to end an episode is to get involved with some activity that gets you moving and invovled (see Dealing with Depression in About Depression).
Depression’s On & Off Switch
So how does one conquer depression? How do we stop that seemingly automatic and uncontrollable process? The simplicity of the answer may make you doubt its truth though using this simple, though totally effective method, should free you from this dreaded affliction. There is a switch in each person’s mind that can turn depression on and off. Knowing how to find the switch and how to turn it off is the secret to Conquering Depression for Life™. And once it's off it's off for good, unless of course you intentionally turn it back on.