Depression: Is society taking the wrong approach? What about another way, more hugs, less drugs?
Yes, we’ve been taking the wrong approach. Assessment of depression is based on intake models that were developed long before there were hundreds of drugs prescribed. Pharmaceutical corporations are in business to make money, not to end world wide depression. Suicidal tendencies are actually exacerbated by some drugs. Psychiatry itself is largely based on outdated ideas about human motivation, brain disease, and behaviors.
None of this means that all drugs are useless. Nor does it mean that psychiatry has not made great insights into the human mind. It does however; indicate that these things should all be examined. Psychotherapy, the non-drug based alternative to drugs, has been proven just as effective on its own in some cases, and in combination with medications in others. We take drugs because a pill is a quick fix. We have insane, busy, stressful lives.
Who has time for careful and deliberate treatment of depression, anxiety, or any other mental difficulty? Few have time to reflect that perhaps these very lifestyles are part of the origin of our depressions, anxieties, and other mental and emotional disturbances.
It is only quite recently with the renaissance of Ecopsychology that we have begun to see our brains and bodies in a wider social and global context which requires a healthier society and environment, in order to have healthier minds and bodies.
You do not have to go out and hug trees or become head hippie on your block. But you should hug others, love trees, plants, flowers, and enjoy animals, pets and wildlife. You should make every effort to notice the miracle of life outside yourself. It’s long been recognized that the inward looking rumination of depression is destructive, even self-centered. We only escape the dark despair of it by looking beyond ourselves. This can begin simply by looking out your window to a greater world beyond.
Depression hurts, say some of the ads out there. Yes, it does, but a lot of why it hurts is because the natural chemical imbalance in the suffering brain is not taking advantage of the also natural balancing neurotransmitters found in life affirming activities.
Children have lost the freedom to run wild with imaginations and energy outdoors, and are largely concentrated into chat rooms, computer games, gadgetry, and twittering. None of these things are evil. They are just diversions that need to be balanced with the kind of outdoor fun which was once expected for children. ADD and other related mental illness in children may be over prescribed and diagnosed, because having short attention spans and high energy is what childhood is all about in our evolutionary path.
Watching television is not wrong either, but we should not do it at the neglect of being outdoors with family and friends. We should not expect depression related maladies of obesity, addiction, diabetes, heart disease, and more to go away by focusing on drugs alone. We have to create connections to quality food, air, water, soil, and other living things as well. Connection has proved to be a vital component in treating depression. It takes courage, but the courage is often rewarded with the discovery that taking a chance of talking to someone, or something, will result in positive feelings.
Even if one feels rejected, the sufferer learns they won’t die or self-destruct; this builds confidence to make another effort, and to realize you do not have to depend on drugs for every positive step you experience.
For those with depression, you are your best advocate for improvement.
For decades smart doctors have advised patients to take walks, get healthy exercise and take care of themselves better. Yet very few scientists looked into the reasons why connection with nature improves mental and emotional health. We just took going to the beach or camping in the forest as a taken for granted, stress reducer.
Globally, however, a population of over seven billion would never be able to take advantage of these “cures” as there simply are not enough healthy oceans, beaches, forests, or other wilderness destinations to go around.
The good news is society is at last recognizing the connection between healthy citizens and a healthier world. Our innovations and technology can be employed to end destructive exploitation, and replace it with constructive conservation.
Grateful connection will serve your peace of mind, even as it serves the ever elusive peace on earth humankind has sought for millennia.