The Causes Of Depression

Discussion in 'Philosophy & Psychology' started by Ken Anderson, Mar 20, 2018.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
    Moderator Registered

    Jan 21, 2015
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    This is a topic that could appropriately be placed in the Health & Wellness section as well. I have decided to place it here instead because there are emotional, psychological, or psychiatric causes of depression, as well as medical or pharmaceutical treatments. Additionally, I am neither a doctor or a mental health professional, so I don't know if I am necessarily offering accurate information on the topic. Too often, neither do the professionals so I won't let that stop me. It's a discussion forum after all, and not a medical textbook.

    I have often felt that a large part of the reason why we might be depressed, or why depression seems to be more common today than it once was (apart from the greater likelihood of diagnosis today) can be, in part, laid at the feet of modern technology.

    If we look back at a time that we might have experienced only in the movies or on television, such as Little House in the Prairie, it's easy to consider that things were so much simpler then and that people didn't often suffer from such things as depression. The truth may be that people were kept so busy then that they didn't have the luxury of sitting around thinking about how meaningless their lives were.

    Modern technology has given us the time to sit around thinking about how crappy our lives are, so there could be some truth to that.

    But technology has affected us in other ways, as well. Thanks to technology, we can do most of our shopping online, and could probably do all of our shopping online if we were motivated. Shopping online, we can avoid the strange people at Walmart. In some places, even groceries can be delivered, so we could avoid the people blocking the aisle with their shopping carts while carrying on lengthy conversations with other shoppers.

    We can stream movies onto our large-screen televisions and miss out on having some kid kicking the back of our seat at the movie theater. We no longer even have to go to video stores.

    Even when we do venture outdoors, we can continue to browse the Internet on our smartphones rather than having to interact with strangers on the bus, in the waiting room at the clinic, or the people we pass by on the sidewalk. If we should decide to go to a restaurant with our spouse, or with friends, we can easily ignore them as well, as we read and reply to text messages or check our email. In some restaurants now, we can even place our orders and pay for our meals without having to interact with a waiter or waitress.

    Perhaps the problem with all of this is that we learn to tolerate annoyances by dealing with them. Even things like bad smells become less noticeable the more we're exposed to them, which is why people with a lot of cats barely even notice the odor of cats while someone visiting them in their home may experience quite another sensation. The less we are exposed to it, the less we are able to tolerate it when it comes up. This tends to occur with other things as well, including human behaviors, such as babies screaming.

    In a sense, civil society is the ability of people to cooperate despite their mutual distaste for one another. Dealing with incompatible people requires developing a set of skills that are learned through practice, and this is something that people used to get a lot of before technology got in the way. People once knew their neighbors, and every purchase required human interaction, and sometimes even negotiation. Friends often met during these exchanges of conversation.

    If you were to do something very embarrassing, how many people could you trust with that knowledge? A Cornell University study did a survey not long ago that posed such a scenario, but one that resulted in a photo, asking how many people a person might be able to trust with that photo. One-fourth of the respondents said that they could trust no one with it, but the most common answer was two. That same survey had been done twenty-five years previously, and the numbers were far higher. Most people had family members and friends who they felt they could trust with it.

    At a time when communications were more difficult, when there were no cell phones or Facebook, and when people couldn't even seek our like-minded people on an Internet forum, people had more trusted friends than they do now.

    Could it be that the Internet is great at giving us what think we want, which are easy friendships, ones that require very little of us? Does this encourage shallow friendships with people who laugh at our jokes and "like" the memes that we post, but who don't know the most important things about us? Does this encourage friendships that don't include the sharing of our deepest secrets, shames, and weaknesses?

    For many of us, our friends are people who we will never have to do a favor for, who will never call us on our BS, and who will never intervene when we are making a mistake? If they get angry with you, they might insult you but they can't meaningfully criticize you because they don't know anything about you?

    Brutal honesty has never been comfortable, and it has always required some tact if it was to be performed effectively, but most people today will not tolerate it. Honesty can mean the end of a friendship, but that wasn't always the case.

    Some of us may have friends like this, but others probably don't, and I think it's fair to say that there are far fewer true friends in the world today than there were fifty years ago, and fewer yet than there were a century ago.

    When people didn't move around so easily or so often, they had to work things out, and most of them were far better at working things out than we are, and I am guessing that those who are children today will really suck at working things out as adults. Having never had a true friend, perhaps they won't know what they're missing, though.

    As a Christian, I don't believe in macroevolution, but there is such a thing as evolution within a species. People have evolved to need physical contact. Lacking that, depression or even worse consequences can occur.

    When you are speaking to someone face-to-face, what percentage of the meaning is in the words that we use, as opposed to the body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice? According to one study, it's seven percent, with the other ninety-three percent of the message being nonverbal. No, I don't know how they arrived at that number, but they probably used a computer.

    Whatever the number, I think we can agree that much of face-to-face human communication is nonverbal. Not only in the extremes of love, but many of us can probably tell whether someone likes us or not without them having to tell us that; or vice versa.

    Our senses have evolved to adapt to face-to-face interactions. We pick up signals from real-world contact, detecting and adjusting to the moods of the people we interact with on the fly, subconsciously reading thousands of subtle little cues. Children who are born without this ability are emotionally handicapped, while those who have an excess of it are said to be charismatic, and those who are somewhere in between might be called socially clumsy. It's not so much what we say, but the energy we put out. This goes both ways, of course; some people are better at picking up on the cues left by others, while others really suck at it.

    We are social beings. We have evolved to be happy when we can gather and cooperate with other people. Perhaps, in another few generations, people will have evolved out of this need, but we currently still need this stuff. When we don't get it, or have never learned to do it well, we don't feel good about ourselves.

    Am I suggesting this is the only cause of depression? No, I am not. It may not even be the only one that I suggest. This is a thread, and this is simply my first post.
  2. Terry Page

    Terry Page Veteran Member

    Aug 12, 2015
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    An interesting thread Ken, I have mulled over the issues you touched on for a while now, I have good and bad days, though I would I say I have never been actually depressed. Putting aside clinical depression often ascribed to chemical imbalances in the brain, (which may in themselves be caused by life issues I guess, chicken and egg scenario) I feel that life itself is difficult for most of us at times, especially when thoughts about the pointlessness of life surface, we then usually grab for a diversion to kill off these thoughts, it can be a chocolate/candy bar or even a new car, and these days technology gives us many more such diversions. Smart phones and tablets seem to have become our current way of occupying our otherwise often empty days, and have spread very rapidly throughout the world, so I guess they are part of our next evolutionary step.... .?

    In the past as you mentioned, days were filled living a life with little time for much contemplation, personally these periods of looking inward have led me to try and live my life by being kind to all I meet, and constantly trying to become more aware of my weaknesses which are many, though hopefully becoming less as I attempt to become a better person................I fail a lot but each new day gives me a fresh opportunity to try again....... [​IMG]

    These are just a few thoughts that ran through my head, I will come back to it later................
  3. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member

    Jan 21, 2015
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    We're a Feel Good Society. A society that we, the boomers, have brought upon ourselves and the developed world whereby if it doesn't give us some sort of a high then we become depressed. There are no grey areas but highs and lows with no middle ground for rest, reflection and mental development.
    If it doesn't create a burst of serotonin, dopamine, or adrenaline then we feel that we are in trouble and our little worlds come crashing down upon our heads.

    Personal satisfaction comes from the pharmacy or the guy down the street rather than from something we achieve. We've managed to learn to sublimate those things that are innate with the unnatural which brings about a temporary and false state of satisfaction. Rather than focusing on things which are "Just, Pure and Lovely we think upon Quick, Easy which are coupled with Questionable Desire.
    Nearly every convenience store I have walked into as of late has a display of pipes and instruments for the use of feel good drugs because all of the things advertised on TV and other publications seemingly cannot appease the material mind.
    Too many people are hooked on artificial stimulation whether it is a new car or a few candy bars instead of being content with real personal accomplishment that comes with setting a goal and achieving it.

    The thing is, there are no "overnight" achievements. No one can lose 30 lbs. in an instant, gain huge muscle mass in a couple of weeks, be a success in business overnight or get a high paying career with little or no education. There are no instant fixes or panaceas and very few perfect solutions to a problem but there is an attitude available that can help without all of the hoopla and money attached to the new art of feeling good.
    If we can relearn how to be content with whatever condition we are in, depression has no place in which to root. Or, I am sure Paul said it much better: "Not speaking of wanting, but I have found that whatever state I am, therewith I shall be content."

    Being content doesn't mean that we cannot set higher goals but instead simply means that whatever place we hold while we are trying to reach the finish line, we can be happy that we're still in the race.
  4. Kitty Carmel

    Kitty Carmel Very Well-Known Member

    May 9, 2016
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    I agree, an interesting post. I think real true clinical depression has existed as long as humans have. How common is it, I don't know. I certainly agree with you statement @Ken Anderson about doctors and mental health professionals not really knowing all that much either. It's so true. Antidepressants are so overprescribed in my worthless opinion. I've suffered from feeling depressed and I think much of mine is situational. The fact that I've never really felt I belonged anyplace. Even with my own family.

    As far as technology goes, a lot of it is true. I don't have a smart phone but have the internet obviously. I have read however that the internet has helped many people in dealing with issues because they can find others having the same experience. One of the reasons I sought out a "senior" forum was because I was sick of the young twits I was encountering on some forums and wanted to find people who had lived a few years and didn't think they knew it all because they were 25. The other forum luckily brought me to this one.

    I've thought of the concept of a tribe before. People lived together and depended on one another. People contributed by their own ability. We are so far from that in Western Society. There is no sense of community. People being too busy in the past to not be depressed is probably for the most part true. Though if someone was truly clinically depressed which I think is a physical condition, that wouldn't be the case.

    I know after a hard day at work dealing with jerks (co-workers), like last weekend, I end up leaving work exhausted and depressed feeling. Thank goodness I come home to the cats.
  5. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Well-Known Member

    Mar 6, 2018
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    I wonder about antidepressant drugs also. I helped with some research years ago that associated serotonin levels with schizophrenia. With SSRI being used to treat depression, I wonder if it is converting depressed individual into schizophrenics. Most of the effectiveness of the anti depressants I believe to be mere placebo effect. People MUST feel better because they are being treated. We have a lot of depression and suicide here. Surprisingly, suicides pike in the Spring when it is getting lighter, not in the Fall when the darkness is increasing. I asked a Physiologist about this, and he told me that humans photoperiod is more medded up by the rapidly increasing daylight than the increase in darkness. Curious....

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