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  #1  
Old 02-05-2013, 02:37 PM
TheCrow TheCrow is offline
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Why is depression so prevalent in contemporary society?

I can't cite that depression is so prevalent in contemporary society because I can't find any authoritative or official source saying it's common.

The reason that I am asking is because I see a lot of people unhappy and extremely negative towards life. Most of them regularly visit mental health doctors and diagnosed with different kind of depression.

So, my question arises. Why is depression so prevalent in contemporary society?
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  #2  
Old 02-05-2013, 03:13 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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One reason is that depression of some kind is fairly common during the course of a human life and we now have drugs to treat it instead of using the old methodology of waiting for it to pass. The result is that depression is identified as a more serious problem than it once was.

Last edited by TriPolar; 02-05-2013 at 03:14 PM..
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:19 PM
TruCelt TruCelt is offline
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Just guessing here.

There are also many more people who begin life in poor circumstances yet survive to adulthood. Even the most neglectful or abusive families these days are unlikely to have a child pass away. In the past, it was far easier for a neglected child to die of disease. A child might eb wandering the neighborhood much too young, but they won't be drinking water from a sewage-infested ditch, or picking up worms because they don't have shoes.
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:20 PM
JackieLikesVariety JackieLikesVariety is offline
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not enough natural light, exercise, and strong social bonds? just a WAG.
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:47 PM
Airk Airk is offline
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People have too much free time; When you were working sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year on the farm/boat/whatever to keep your family fed, you didn't have time to get depressed. Also, we don't generally get enough exercise.

First world problem.
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:47 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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Because we talk about such things instead of locking the crazy ones away in an attic without speaking of them or sending them away to an asylum or prescribing bloodletting to balance their humours or recommending a rest cure? Depression has been with humanity for a very long time.
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:50 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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Because the things you need to know to self-diagnose or self-treat it early on aren't taught in schools, and people have to grow up and become clinically depressed before somebody else will say "Hey, you seem a little down..."
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:52 PM
Living Well Is Best Revenge Living Well Is Best Revenge is offline
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I think we are more self obsessed as a culture. People in olden days were probably depressed too, but they were too busy plowing fields and churning butter to even notice.
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:56 PM
steviep24 steviep24 is offline
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Personally I blame Facebook, twitter and other social media on this. A poor economy and high unemployment don't help either.
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Old 02-05-2013, 04:49 PM
Ponch8 Ponch8 is offline
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Originally Posted by Airk View Post
People have too much free time; When you were working sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year on the farm/boat/whatever to keep your family fed, you didn't have time to get depressed. Also, we don't generally get enough exercise.

First world problem.
Do you have a cite?
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  #11  
Old 02-05-2013, 04:54 PM
snowthx snowthx is offline
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
One reason is that depression of some kind is fairly common during the course of a human life and we now have drugs to treat it instead of using the old methodology of waiting for it to pass. The result is that depression is identified as a more serious problem than it once was.
I concur with this, and I will take it a cynical step further and suggest once people figured out how to make money off other people's depression, suddenly markets and diagnoses opened up.
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Old 02-05-2013, 05:10 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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In very short, realizing that you've made poor life choices when better ones were available and offered to you. People are increasingly pushed to make bad choices, and there comes a point at which they add up, whether the victim consciously realized it or not.

It can be bombing high school and putting your life on a permanently reduced track, or choosing the wrong major and career... or any of many things that should have been better chosen and now are difficult to change.
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Old 02-05-2013, 05:56 PM
zoid zoid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airk View Post
People have too much free time; When you were working sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year on the farm/boat/whatever to keep your family fed, you didn't have time to get depressed. Also, we don't generally get enough exercise.

First world problem.
Right. That's why Chinese factories have to put up "happy" nets on tall company dormatories - to keep those happy, happy people from floating away on clouds of good feelings.
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  #14  
Old 02-05-2013, 06:03 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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Originally Posted by steviep24 View Post
Personally I blame Facebook, twitter and other social media on this. A poor economy and high unemployment don't help either.
as much as I despise crap like Facebook and Twitter, this has been creeping up long, long before they came into existence.
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  #15  
Old 02-05-2013, 06:04 PM
Sattua Sattua is offline
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I agree with most of the reasons already given. Also, in a subsistence society every single person is important and valued. In a highly developed economy like the one we live in, people can be useless if they don't make an effort to not be. That's bad for your mental state.
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:12 PM
RedMud636 RedMud636 is offline
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Is it actually more prevalent than any other time in history? Or are we simply more aware of it since it is talked about more openly now? Does seem a pretty popular diagnosis though, Ive known some who seem to wear it as a badge of honor and use it for all sorts of excuses. Not meaning to belittle people who do truly suffer(who are many), but I think a lot of cases are just sympathy grabs and cop outs to get out of dealing with stressors that everyone has. Its a foolproof diagnosis for a doc to make as it can hardly be proven wrong, which is very enabling for certain types of people. Some just need a good dose of STFU and grow up Im sure. Again, i know well that real depression exists too, and I would guess that our fast paced, sink or swim, get rich or die trying, info overload type of culture isnt helping either of these groups.
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  #17  
Old 02-05-2013, 06:17 PM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is online now
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Originally Posted by Ferret Herder View Post
Because we talk about such things instead of locking the crazy ones away in an attic without speaking of them or sending them away to an asylum or prescribing bloodletting to balance their humours or recommending a rest cure? Depression has been with humanity for a very long time.
The ancient term was, and remains, "melancholy" -- meaning attributed to an excess of the Black Bile humour. The ones who remained functional were just said to be of melancholy disposition (one of the four humour-based personalities), but it was recognized since antiquity that there were cases that were abnormal and crippling in intensity and duration of despair, beyond what would be an expected reaction to misfortune or danger.

And yes in the olden times it was more often identified in the better off classes. But that may not be because the peasants and serfs were "too busy surviving to get depressed" but maybe it was because the upper classes wrote only about themselves, and nobody bothered to ask the peasants and serfs how they felt and/or it was just assumed that naturally it sucked to be them.

Last edited by JRDelirious; 02-05-2013 at 06:21 PM..
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:18 PM
Spice Weasel Spice Weasel is offline
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Based on what I know about depression, I'm guessing the single biggest influence is the lack of strong social ties, relative to the past. Time after time again when it comes to human psychology, we find that people need other people or they get all crazy. The increased secularization of society has led to a breakdown in community bonds, and the rise of less traditional family structures - in many cases, completely dysfunctional ones - both have a serious negative impact on the human psyche.

The concept of ''self-esteem'' and ''happiness'' probably also has something to do with it. Both are basically useless concepts. Americans live in a highly individualistic society and most of us have been trained to constantly ask ourselves whether we are actually happy and how we feel about ourselves. Research continually indicates that the less people ask themselves these questions, the happier they are.

And before anyone gets all het up about that secularization comment, I'm a liberal atheist who has suffered from depression my entire life. I just know that religious people tend to be happier, and the reason is almost certainly strong social support networks. When I say ''less traditional family structures'' I mean the whole family doesn't generally live under one roof, and children are generally expected to GTFO of their parents' homes. This is very different than most collective societies and a pretty stark departure from the way things used to be here.
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:27 PM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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If Stephen Crane, Eugene O'Neil, Frank Norris, et al. are to be believed, people in the past weren't just depressed, they were depressed, drunk, violent, etc. etc.

Instead of today's alienated loners who shoot up grade schools or abduct children off school busses, we had community spirit back in the good old days. Why, we'd all pitch in together and raise a barn or burn a negro; whatever the need called out. That's what's missing.

Last edited by Slithy Tove; 02-05-2013 at 06:28 PM..
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  #20  
Old 02-05-2013, 06:47 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is offline
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Ennui, perhaps? I have a theory* that the human mind depends on problem-solving to feel fulfilled. Essentially: lacking the absence of barriers to actual survival, we get pretty fucking bored. So the mind creates an internal problem: depression. Now, we have a problem to solve again.

Through the ages, man has solved the big basic problems that kept our minds occupied. Problems such as the need for shelter, the search for food, the procurement of food, the preparation of food, and the protection of our young from four-legged predators. Those problems no longer exist. But our minds are still as sharp and in need of stimulation as they were back then. A lot of people don't have any problems to solve bigger than figuring out who stole the last fucking pen at work, or when that goddamn burrito is going to be ready for table 4. People make stability their ultimate goal, which is utterly logical. But once you're stable, it's easy to fall into a fucking mind-numbing rut. Like cabin fever, except with your life.

Of course, even outside this theory, depression with a real onset would still exist. I think it's pretty natural to be unhappy for years when you bury a child or get raped or see your beloved spouse get savaged by polar bears after falling into their pit at the zoo. But a lot of people today seem to have a sort of free-floating depression, a general low-to-mid-level malaise with no reason to feel that way. Life for the average American is better in nearly every conceivable way than it was 50 years ago, but as a whole we're more unhappy with it. There has to be a reason for that.

*probably bullshit, evo-psych, unprovable
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  #21  
Old 02-05-2013, 06:50 PM
not what you'd expect not what you'd expect is online now
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Ignorance is bliss they say. We aren't as ignorant as we used to be. Maybe. I don't know.
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  #22  
Old 02-05-2013, 06:57 PM
deltasigma deltasigma is offline
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Stress. Look up the HPA axis and it will explain all.

OK, not all, but it gives some insight into one of the major causes.
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  #23  
Old 02-05-2013, 06:59 PM
Truman Burbank Truman Burbank is offline
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Building upon what Olivesmarch said

It's complicated, of course, but I think heightened, usually unrealistic expectations play a part. We see 'Richard Cory' everywhere now, and told we can be him, and are bombarded with images of the beautiful people and the material wealth than can make us happy. I'm not sure the content of most of our media is doing us any favors...
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Old 02-05-2013, 07:03 PM
Jragon Jragon is offline
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I'm convinced part of it is consumerism and marketing. I'm not one of those people who hate this ARTIFICIAL CONSUMERIST CULTURE (UGH!) -- trust me, I don't mind the system that gave me all my neat gadgets.

It's just that marketing primarily seems to work by convincing you that you have a need to fulfill when there is none. You really need this phone, wouldn't that house extension make your life easier? That old shitty iPod? This one has GAMES, won't that make your life so much more fun? Why are you making crappy food at home when you could eat at our restaurant? Dissatisfied with all the money you're spending, come here to SAVE.

I imagine that all those imaginary holes in your life tend to add up and cause you to feel that you're not worth it because you can't get something. Or defer seeking the things that will actually make you happy in pursuit of the iGadget 17 with depression fighting Angry Birds capability (that only fights depression for about 10 minutes).

Last edited by Jragon; 02-05-2013 at 07:03 PM..
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  #25  
Old 02-05-2013, 07:04 PM
monstro monstro is offline
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I recently learned about the concept of counterirritant. I find it interesting as it relates to pain, and I think it can be used to explain depression too.

Bear with me.

I think people were depressed "back in the day" too. Maybe even more so than today. But it wasn't a "thing" as much because pain was currency. All types of pain. Back in the day, run-of-the-mill parenting would be considered abusive by today's standards. Children were put to work, and work was back-breaking and ever-lasting. Food was horrible. Beds were made out of straw, and people shared living quarters with livestock. There was no toilet paper. People were constantly dying. The village was always getting raped and pillaged. There were regular famines. You got married when you were 12. You had seven children and no teeth by the time you were in your 20s. There was no chocolate, no TV, no vacation get-aways, no Straight Dope. Back in whatever day you want to pick, there was a whole heap of pain bottled up in every individual. Great pain, especially of the physical variety, was an expectation.

We don't have the "counterirritants" that our predecessors had. When you've been building the pyramids all day and you just caught an evil lashing by Ramses' overseer, or you just walked three miles with a jug of water balanced on your head and tomorrow you're gonna wake up with small pox, you don't have enough energy to ruminate about how cruel your mother was to you back in childhood. The physical pain distracts you from psychological pain. It acts as a counterirritant.

Despite having said all that, I think people were fucked up back in the day too. I sure as hell wouldn't want to go back to biblical days when people were stoned or lynched for no good reason at all. Maybe they weren't depressed, but that doesn't mean they weren't sick individuals acting out pathologically.

Last edited by monstro; 02-05-2013 at 07:04 PM..
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  #26  
Old 02-05-2013, 07:31 PM
steviep24 steviep24 is offline
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The counterirritant concept monstro mentions is one of the reasons so many teens and young adults cut and burn themselves and is part of the reason tattoos are so popular with that age group. The physical pain helps relieve their mental pain.
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  #27  
Old 02-05-2013, 07:44 PM
deltasigma deltasigma is offline
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I had never heard of the counterirritant argument but having known someone who engaged in self-harm, I was curious and looked to see if there was a link with the HPA axis. It seems that there is.
Quote:
Salivary levels of biomarkers for the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA; cortisol) and sympatho-adreno-medullary system (SAM; α-amylase) were measured in 51 adults (57% male) with neurodevelopmental disorders associated with intellectual disability (i.e., mental retardation) and chronic self-injurious behavior (SIB) and compared with matched controls without SIB. Cortisol levels differed significantly (phttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/corehtml...ents/x2009.gif<http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/corehtml...ents/x2009.gif0.01) between the SIB and control group (SIBhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/corehtml...ents/x2009.gif>http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/corehtml...ents/x2009.gifcontrol). Within-group analyses showed significant differences (phttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/corehtml...ents/x2009.gif<http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/corehtml...ents/x2009.gif0.05) in levels of salivary α-amylase between individuals with SIB and those with SIB meeting criteria for stereotyped movement disorder (SMD; SIBhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/corehtml...ents/x2009.gif+http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/corehtml...ents/x2009.gifSMDhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/corehtml...ents/x2009.gif>http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/corehtml...ents/x2009.gifSIB). Salivary α-amylase was significantly correlated with frequency of stereotypy among the SIB group (rhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/corehtml...ents/x2009.gif=http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/corehtml...ents/x2009.gif0.36, phttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/corehtml...ents/x2009.gif<http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/corehtml...ents/x2009.gif0.05). These preliminary findings warrant further exploration into the role of the SAM system in the pathophysiology of SIB and related repetitive behaviors among individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders associated with intellectual disability.
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  #28  
Old 02-05-2013, 07:55 PM
John DiFool John DiFool is offline
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Because today's society doesn't have much in the way of resources for people to identify and develop their true authentic selves. Past societies however weren't necessarily any better in said capacity.
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  #29  
Old 02-05-2013, 08:05 PM
doreen doreen is offline
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Originally Posted by olivesmarch4th View Post
And before anyone gets all het up about that secularization comment, I'm a liberal atheist who has suffered from depression my entire life. I just know that religious people tend to be happier, and the reason is almost certainly strong social support networks.
You aren't actually talking about secularization, what you're really talking about it that we're increasingly bowling alone . Yes, a church can provide a strong social network, but so can many secular activities including a weekly poker game or even just sitting out on the front stoop with the neighbors after dinner. But as a society, we don't do those things as much as we used to.

Last edited by doreen; 02-05-2013 at 08:06 PM..
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:28 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Originally Posted by Jragon View Post
I'm convinced part of it is consumerism and marketing. I'm not one of those people who hate this ARTIFICIAL CONSUMERIST CULTURE (UGH!) -- trust me, I don't mind the system that gave me all my neat gadgets.

It's just that marketing primarily seems to work by convincing you that you have a need to fulfill when there is none.
There is much hope for you.
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:25 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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Have you guys never read a Thomas Hardy novel?
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  #32  
Old 02-05-2013, 11:00 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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One theory I've heard is that our lifestyle is not very nurturing. We don't get the proper fats in our diets, too much sugar which can cause blood sugar spikes/crashes, western diets cause inflammation (inflammation is tied to depression), etc. Plus we don't exercise which can help mood. Plus we don't get much natural light which helps produce vitamin D.

http://robbwolf.com/2012/03/23/nutrition-depression/

Also supposedly the death of social ties plays a role. In pre-tech civilizations people needed each other. Now we don't, you just need money which has replaced social ties as a way to survive hard times or achieve your goals. You don't need a close friend to babysit, you hire a babysitter. You don't have friends to talk to so you hire a therapist. Hell whatever social ties we do have are usually work related in some way. So there is a lot of isolation going on due to that.

Does anyone have cites on how common depression is on civilizations who live a paleolithic lifestyle? I'm not talking about Chinese or African civilizations, I mean the bushmen types who have almost no contact with civilization. I have heard it is lower, but have no idea.

This claims depression is more common in wealthy than poor countries.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...kely-depressed



Even if depression is the price we pay for medicine, science, technology, etc. It is worth it. Three steps forward, one back.

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 02-05-2013 at 11:03 PM..
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  #33  
Old 02-05-2013, 11:05 PM
rowrrbazzle rowrrbazzle is offline
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Originally Posted by Sattua View Post
I agree with most of the reasons already given. Also, in a subsistence society every single person is important and valued.
I think that's a rather idealized view. Lots of those people (not all) leave such a lifestyle if they get a chance. On the other hand, lots of Westerners sing the praises of that lifestyle, but almost none of them take it up. In other words, almost all of the defectors go in one direction . Reality leaves argument to find its errors by itself.
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  #34  
Old 02-05-2013, 11:12 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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Originally Posted by olivesmarch4th View Post
Based on what I know about depression, I'm guessing the single biggest influence is the lack of strong social ties, relative to the past. Time after time again when it comes to human psychology, we find that people need other people or they get all crazy. The increased secularization of society has led to a breakdown in community bonds, and the rise of less traditional family structures - in many cases, completely dysfunctional ones - both have a serious negative impact on the human psyche.

The concept of ''self-esteem'' and ''happiness'' probably also has something to do with it. Both are basically useless concepts. Americans live in a highly individualistic society and most of us have been trained to constantly ask ourselves whether we are actually happy and how we feel about ourselves. Research continually indicates that the less people ask themselves these questions, the happier they are.

And before anyone gets all het up about that secularization comment, I'm a liberal atheist who has suffered from depression my entire life. I just know that religious people tend to be happier, and the reason is almost certainly strong social support networks. When I say ''less traditional family structures'' I mean the whole family doesn't generally live under one roof, and children are generally expected to GTFO of their parents' homes. This is very different than most collective societies and a pretty stark departure from the way things used to be here.
This is a good post, but are you sure that concepts like self esteem or how individualistic a society is play that big a role? The east asian cultures are more communal and less concerned with individualism and self esteem, but depression and suicide are rampant there too.
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  #35  
Old 02-05-2013, 11:21 PM
rowrrbazzle rowrrbazzle is offline
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Originally Posted by monstro View Post
When you've been building the pyramids all day and you just caught an evil lashing by Ramses' overseer
As you really should know, according to modern Egyptology, building the pyramids was a hard life, but not as bad as portrayed in The Ten Commandments.
Quote:
I sure as hell wouldn't want to go back to biblical days when people were stoned or lynched for no good reason at all.
Again, as you really should know, you don't even have to go back to the 1950s to see people stoned or burned alive or beheaded for reasons you would not consider valid in any way. You can even see a small number of videos of those things on various video sharing sites.
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  #36  
Old 02-05-2013, 11:24 PM
Two Many Cats Two Many Cats is offline
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Depression has always been with us, probably at the same rates as always. It has to do with brain chemistry. We have better ways to deal with it now, thank god. In the old days, the only treatment was an asylum, so most people either kept their depression to themselves, or committed suicide. People back then drank alcohol way more than now as well, so there was plenty of self-medicating going on. Plenty of those old patent medicines were touted to relieve depression symptoms as well. Those had opiates.

Last edited by Two Many Cats; 02-05-2013 at 11:25 PM..
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:12 AM
colander colander is offline
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Depression has always been with us, probably at the same rates as always. It has to do with brain chemistry. We have better ways to deal with it now, thank god. In the old days, the only treatment was an asylum, so most people either kept their depression to themselves, or committed suicide. People back then drank alcohol way more than now as well, so there was plenty of self-medicating going on. Plenty of those old patent medicines were touted to relieve depression symptoms as well. Those had opiates.
This.
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  #38  
Old 02-06-2013, 12:21 AM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is online now
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I think that much of the reason is that life for most people throughout most of history was so awful that it was hard to distinguish between people who were depressed for medical reasons from people who were depressed because their life was just that horrible. Back then, the typical attitude was that life was all about suffering and pain and disease and decay and despair; there were secular and religious laws against suicide because for almost everyone life was worse than death. Now we think of life as about living and accomplishment, the accumulation of property, friends and family and the enjoyment of them; with pain and suffering being aberrations, not the essence of life.

When hope becomes the norm, irrational despair becomes noticeable instead of being the equivalent of black ink on a black page at midnight.
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  #39  
Old 02-06-2013, 01:11 AM
Snowboarder Bo Snowboarder Bo is offline
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Everything is amazing and nobody's happy
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:30 AM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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1. Society sucks. Being depressed is an entirely rational response to it for most people.

2. Most people have no real connection between their day to day activities and the betterment of society or even their neighborhood. The see themselves as easily replaced cogs in a giant economic machine, and get no real sense of accomplishment from their jobs. Other than a relatively few professions like doctors, firemen, cops, and maybe even some entertainers, they know that they and their job could vanish from the face of the earth and no one but immediate family would ever even notice.
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:30 AM
Orville mogul Orville mogul is offline
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Originally Posted by Truman Burbank View Post
It's complicated, of course, but I think heightened, usually unrealistic expectations play a part. We see 'Richard Cory' everywhere now, and told we can be him, and are bombarded with images of the beautiful people and the material wealth than can make us happy. I'm not sure the content of most of our media is doing us any favors...
Building on this, I think a big part of the problem (in western cultures at least) is that we are all told from childhood that we are 'special'. I remember being about 10 years old and honestly thinking that I might be the smartest person in the world. And when I was in high school, thinking that I would become president. I have done reasonably OK in my career, but to be honest, I have not been able to climb up the corporate ladder, to earn any massive salary, or to distinguish myself in any way. In a word, I am 'average'. There's nothing wrong with being average, but when your upbringing and society around you tell you that if you are not above average then you are below average, you get depressed.

Very relevant to me now as I am trying to come to terms with the reality that I will never advance beyond the dreaded middle management....
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:47 AM
Doggo Doggo is offline
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Perhaps because many of us have crap lives, and our bosses are psychopathic monsters.
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:50 AM
Doggo Doggo is offline
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Originally Posted by Orville mogul View Post
Building on this, I think a big part of the problem (in western cultures at least) is that we are all told from childhood that we are 'special'. I remember being about 10 years old and honestly thinking that I might be the smartest person in the world. And when I was in high school, thinking that I would become president. I have done reasonably OK in my career, but to be honest, I have not been able to climb up the corporate ladder, to earn any massive salary, or to distinguish myself in any way. In a word, I am 'average'. There's nothing wrong with being average, but when your upbringing and society around you tell you that if you are not above average then you are below average, you get depressed.

Very relevant to me now as I am trying to come to terms with the reality that I will never advance beyond the dreaded middle management....
Wrong.
I grew up in an era when children were in no doubt that we were anything but "special", and punished severly by beating us for almost any transgression, no matter how insignificant.
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:06 AM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Some really good comments above. I especially agree with the mentions of self-obsession, profiting from diagnoses, and unlimited wants encouraged by marketing and media.

In my work I daily encounter folk who claim to be disabled (at least in part) due to depression (with bipolar and anxiety running a close second and third.) In my non-medical opinion, not enough people distinguish between moods, personal dispositions, reasonable reactions, and diagnosable pathologies warranting treatment. I readily acknowledge the existence and impact of depression. But I'm not persuaded that a good percentage of folk who present themselves as depressed aren't simply dissatisfied with their lives for any number of reasons.

I also believe the current trend is to identify more and more people as suffering treatable psychological impairments. For example, I believe the APA has proposed eliminating the "bereavement" exception from the definition of depression in the next edition of the DSM. Personally, I do not consider that a desireable trend.
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:09 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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It's true that depression is not a strictly modern phenomenon. There have always been people who suffered from depression, though they may have used a different word (like "melancholy") for it. For example, I have but have not yet read the book Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness.
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:28 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Depression is certainly not a modern phenomenon. I know just enough about, say, my grandfather's life as a farmer in North Dakota to be certain he spent some long evenings and dark mornings staring out the window. Despite all the verities about hard work and life purpose and the devolution of mod'ren society.

FWIW, I try to help people differentiate between two forms of depression. Being depressed when there's a damned good reason to be down is one thing. What I sum up as "being depressed over being depressed" needs all the effort you can give it to push aside and overcome.
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:07 AM
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I feel that two opposing things are to blame, ultimately. Firstly, too much time alone, disconnected from family and community, until the internal life becomes so large it consumes their world.

And secondly, no time to reflect. People are often pushed into decision making without enough information to feel comfortable with a well informed choice. They don't reflect because their world is too busy. Also, in part they don't want to reflect on decisions that may prove wrong or produce uncomfortable feelings. Without reflection, they not only fail to grow, but are continuously being robbed of the good feelings wiser choices produce.

Of course it's not just these two things but I think they are a big part of the problem.
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:11 AM
Freddy the Pig Freddy the Pig is offline
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This thread is giving me nervous prostration. I may need to check into a sanitarium for a rest cure.
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:11 AM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Originally Posted by NitroPress View Post
FWIW, I try to help people differentiate between two forms of depression. Being depressed when there's a damned good reason to be down is one thing. What I sum up as "being depressed over being depressed" needs all the effort you can give it to push aside and overcome.
I think that is a very useful distinction. ISTM there is an additional dimension in terms of how each individual responds to depression. I can't tell you how often someone tells me, "You know, sometimes it is hard to get out of bed in the morning." No shit! I can't IMAGINE what you mean! But what is it that makes one person haul their sorry ass out of bed even tho their life sucks, while another person stays in bed with the curtains drawn?

I don't find enough discussion of this aspect. I lack the vocabulary to properly assess it, but one element impresses me as the individual's "character" (an imperfect and judgment-laden word, I acknowledge). Some people seem more prone than others to act as tho they "deserve" certain things, or perceive themselves as "victims" of forces beyond their control.

Another factor is the resources at an individual's disposal. Sure, a rich person can be depressed as well as a poor person. But in my ignorance I imagine it would be easier to drag one's butt out of bed if the day contained rewarding work and enjoyable leisure instead of drudgery and poverty.

And perhaps an aspect of "resources" is the extent to which one has someone willing to enable them. I know it is not as simple as this, but it impresses me as considerably easier to remain in bed or on the couch watching TV and playing video games all day if you have someone providing you room and board, doing your laundry, etc.
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:14 AM
solosam solosam is offline
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As above, a lot of it has to do with awareness and diagnosis. In the old days, there was nothing to diagnose you with. If your life sucked, too bad for you. As medical knowledge evolved, people became able to treat and identify mental illnesses that would not have been recognized as such before. Same thing for problems like autism... I've had relatives who were diagnosed as having learning disorders in the past who would probably be good candidates for an ASD diagnosis if they were treated by a modern specialist.
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