Depression!! This is one of the worst health conditions plaguing over 300 million people of all ages worldwide according to WHO statistics. Among this figure at least 800,000 commit suicide the majority of which are between 15-29 years old. The biggest concern of depression is how something mentally and emotionally impacts physical health to the point of reducing immunity and increasing the risk of several types of disease. According to statistics, at least 1 in 6 people will suffer from depression at some point of their lives.
1 New causes of Depression have been found
The problem with depression is that not many people possess the mental faculties to deal with it. Invariably it sucks you in like a quagmire of dark emotions resulting from several reasons from childhood trauma, phobias and fears to abuse. For years, scientists have tried to pinpoint the condition that takes the life of many every year. Depression has now come under the scrutiny of doctors, experts and scientists as never before and hopefully the answer to what causes depression has finally been found.
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2 Other factors cause depression besides chemical imbalances
The debate on depression and its causes is still at large where many feel it is due to the chemical imbalances in the brain or a defect of brain physiology. However!! This is now being disputed by the medical fraternity as the only cause of depression. Other factors also come into play here that are causing depression
For those with depression, the perennial question of “what is wrong with me” remains unanswered. Although there is a genuine desire to come out of the treacherous cycle, emotions and thoughts can’t be helped and that’s what claws at a victim of depression with the common feeling of sinking and profound sadness.
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3 Not just due to a malfunctioning brain
Research now reveals that depression doesn’t necessarily mean a malfunctioning brain. The biggest reason for depression and anxiety is a traumatic event that occurred in a person’s past. It doesn’t hit a brain on the spur of the moment or injured. There are also various biological factors like genetics that may make you vulnerable to a risk of depression although it isn’t the main cause.
Johann Hari, a scholar in social sciences and a victim of depression spent three years of research in Cambridge studying the actual causes of depression and he was shocked with what he found.
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4 There are nine causes of depression
Scientists usually measure depression using the Hamilton scale where 0 is happy or ecstatic and 59 the last measurement is suicidal. Improved sleep measures about 6 on the scale where a mind under chemical depressants improves a reading by 1.8 points. Through this Hari felt scientists needed to expand their options for those suffering depression. Here’s what he found.
Hari learned that there are nine causes of depression and anxiety that unfold around people of which two are biological causes and seven external influences in the world which play out different degrees of depression to different people. Hari says that WHO or The World Health Organization has been warning all along that medical experts need to deal with the underlying and deeper causes of depression.
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5 The nine causes study by Dr Vincent Felitti
Hari learned about the nine causes of depression from another great researcher and scientist Doctor Vincent Felitti. “I learned that there are in fact nine major causes of depression and anxiety that are unfolding all around us,” he added. “Two are biological, and seven are out in here in the world.”
Describing it as a breakthrough, Hari says Professor Felitti found out how the biggest culprit of depression was not so much biological factors but more because of our surroundings. The most shocking factor of this discovery happened by accident. He was researching obesity instead of depression.
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6 It started out as a study to reduce obesity
Dr Felitti was commissioned by Kaiser Permanente a Medical provider to find a way to reduce the company’s increasing obesity expenses. Felitti hit upon an idea to try and get the morbidly obese people back on track where some could not even fit through his door. He advised a novel idea of not eating so that their bodies will be forced to utilize the fat stored in their bodies. They were also given nutritional supplements and within a short while he was acquiring results. His patients lost weight.
There was some who lost more weight than others but surprisingly, the people who lost the most weight ended up becoming even more depressed than they were when they were obese. Unfortunately, many put the weight back on. Felitti could not understand why.
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7 A patient’s confession reveals all
One of Felitti’s patients a 28 year old female said that men never look at her when she was obese, but after losing weight drastically, men started to notice her but the main reason she started eating and increasing her weight was when she was 11 around the same time her grandfather was raping her.
Upon speaking to 183 members in the program, Felitti found almost 55% of them had been sexually abused. The woman in question said that being overweight is overlooked and that’s what she wanted to look like. Many of the women had intentionally made themselves unattractive to men by becoming overweight just to escape the male attention for fear of being hurt. This led Felitti to conclude that there was definitely a link between destructive behavior and childhood trauma
Wrote Hari “Childhood trauma caused the risk of adult depression to explode, If you had seven categories of a traumatic event as a child, you were 31,000 percent more likely to attempt suicide as an adult, and more than 4,000 percent more likely to be an injecting drug user.”
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8 A startling revelation
In collaboration and funding from the CDC (center for disease, control and prevention), Felitti launched a major program that provided a questionnaire to 17000 patients. The questions were based on:
- If any of 10 bad things had happened to you as a kid, Such as being neglected or emotionally abused.
- If you faced any of 10 psychological problems, like obesity, depression or addiction.
By the questionnaire, he wanted to see which answers matched the most and he found the most shocking result that Childhood traumas increases adult depression to its highest level.
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9 A dangerous and shocking conclusion
The study made an even more dangerous conclusion: that if you faced seven of the ten categories during childhood, you were 3,100% likely to attempt suicide in adulthood and more than 400-% likely to be a drug abuser or addict.
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10 The nine causes of depression
Hari in his book Lost Connections outlined the nine causes of depression based on Felitti’s study and narrowed it down to the factors below
- Disconnection from meaningful work
- Disconnection from other people
- Disconnection from meaningful values
- Disconnection from childhood trauma
- Disconnection from status and respect
- Disconnection from the natural world
- Disconnection from a hopeful future
- Brain changes
The path to recovery was to gradually establish through counseling a reconnection to all of the above disconnections.
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11 If it’s your fault, it’s — at some strange level — under your control.”
This is what Felitti felt. On reflecting on the research Hari asks why is it people who face violent experiences in childhood feel in a similar fashion. Why do such problems lead to self-destruction, obesity, addiction or even suicide? He says “I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. I have a theory – though I want to stress that this next part is going beyond the scientific evidence discovered by Felitti and the CDC, and I can’t say for sure that it’s true.”
Hari felt that as a child experiencing a traumatic incident, one has two choices. Admit that you were powerless over the situation because you could have been badly hurt or simply blame yourself saying it’s your fault. Yes!! You heard right, blame yourself. Because by doing so you gain power in your mind. Once you admit it’s your fault, you gain the power to make it different simply because you are in control of yourself. “You have your hands on the dangerous levers.”
Just as obesity protected the women from the men’s advances, by blaming yourself for a childhood trauma, that protects you from viewing your own vulnerability at the moment. “If it’s your fault, it’s? at some strange level ? under your control.”
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12 Is only medication a good idea?
Felitti felt that if depression is caused by factors of our early life, then medication for depression wouldn’t be such a good idea although it should not be stopped. Felitti also found that just discussions about the traumatic incidents with authority figures such as family doctors led to a decrease in every case of depression. In fact, there was a 35 % reduction in the requirement for medical care in the following year after the research. For those who needed extensive help, there was a reduction of more than 50%.
One elderly woman who had been raped as a child wrote back to Felitti Thank you for asking … I feared I would die, and no one would ever know what had happened.” “The act of releasing your shame is – in itself – healing. So I went back to people I trusted, and I began to talk about what had happened to me when I was younger. Far from shaming me, far from thinking it showed I was broken, they showed love, and helped me to grieve for what I had gone through.”
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13 “If you find your work meaningless and you feel you have no control over it, you are far more likely to become depressed.”
Hari found that through his research that depression and anxiety was caused more by events in our lives. He says life isn’t about purchases and promotions up the ladder, if you feel that you are about to have an insecure future, then you increase the chances of becoming depressed. He says. “I started to find a whole blast of scientific evidence that depression and anxiety are not caused in our skulls, but by the way many of us are being made to live. There are real biological factors, like your genes, that can make you significantly more sensitive to these causes, but they are not the primary drivers.”
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14 Anxiety and depressions should not be seen as a brain gone haywire.
This has led to the biggest scientific evidence that though chemical imbalances aren’t the actual cause of depression, we instead are trying to find solutions for depression in very different ways (alongside chemical anti-depressants, which should, of course, remain on the table).
According to Hari, pain is not an irrational spasm but your mind and body’s response to what is happening to you. You need to deal with its underlying causes to determine the actual cause of depression. He says, “on my long journey, I learned about seven different kinds of anti-depressants – ones that are about stripping out the causes, rather than blunting the symptoms. Releasing your shame is only the start”
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15 Advice from a colleague
Felitti recalled how one of his associates Dr. Robert Anda told him “When people are behaving in apparently self-destructive ways, it’s time to stop asking what’s wrong with them and time to start asking what happened to them.”
In conclusion, it should be noted that victims of depression shouldn’t always have to rely only on medication although it can help with the symptoms for some speck of rationality but sufferers should never be made to feel that they need medication lifelong. Instead, options need to be provided such as therapy and counseling to determine the root cause of the problem and the actual causes of depression or else they will always be tied down in shackles of depression.
To know how to improve your mood here is a natural selection of foods to fight depression.