What Really Causes Depression?
Now that the chemical imbalance myth has been debunked, what really causes depression? Depression is a human emotion caused when one’s concepts of material things, people, beliefs, values and places that contribute to the happiness in their life do not live up to what they would like them to be.
Grief is a natural emotion that is generally felt when someone important to us dies, becomes seriously ill, or a marriage or relationship ends. We can also become depressed due to living in a war torn part of the world, living in poverty, or the aftermath of an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, fire, or tsunami. But these are generally not the reasons why clients come to behavioral health professionals.
I cannot recall a time when I had a client come to see me because s/he was just so damn happy that s/he couldn’t stand it. EVERYONE who comes to counseling does so because they are unhappy. Eliminating the natural disaster or poverty conditions that I listed above, there is only one reason people are unhappy. It is so simple to diagnose that most people in the psychiatric delivery system completely overlook it. They would rather go back in one’s past and probe and guess about something that may have happened 10, 20, 40 or more years ago as the cause of someone’s unhappiness.
Before I disclose what the one and only reason is, I want you to think back over your life and recall, as many of the times that you can, when you were unhappy. Did you do it? Seriously . . . look away from this text and recall a time when you were depressing. If you wonder why I call it depressing instead of depressed: It is because you are behaving and behaving is a verb or in some cases, a gerund. And since it is a behavior, all of our behaviors are chosen.
Now you must admit that I have not talked to you about this before and I have never even met some of you before, so I can’t possibly know why you were ever depressing, correct? You would be wrong. I know exactly why you were depressing and why my clients are depressing. Someone in your life, who was important to you at the time, was not behaving the way that you would like them to behave. The reason you were depressing in the past was because you were not having the relationship that you wanted to have with someone at that time. Who was it? It was you mother or you father, your sister or your brother, your grandparent, your wife/husband, your child, your employer or a teacher, or . . .it might even have been yourself.
It’s important to point out that the disapproving or unsatisfying relationship is one that is going on right now, in the present, and not something that happened seveal years ago. Chemical Imbalance? Horse Hockey! Did the chemicals in your brain just suddenly change for no reason like catching a cold or the flu?
So who was it in your life that was behaving in a way that you disapproved? I’m fairly sure your dopamine and serotonin were acting up in your brain at the time, but their actions are the result of, not the cause of, one’s unhappiness. Your brain is supposed to react that way when sad as well as happy. If they didn’t, you would react emotionless to all positive and negative situations. It’s part of being human and normal brain functioning. If we didn’t have unhappiness from time to time we wouldn’t be able to recognize happiness.
Why would we ever choose to depress if we didn’t have to? No one wants to feel terrible if they don’t have to. Why be miserable if you have a choice to be happy? “Good grief!. I’m not eating (or I’m eating everything in sight), I can’t sleep (or I sleep all day and night), I can’t concentrate, my nerves are all on edge, I cry all day and night, I’m irritable as hell. I ache all over and my doctor tells me I have fibromyalgia. I’m drinking like a fish. I’m taking all of these antidepressants and they aren’t working or they seem to work great as long as I take them. And you’re telling me I’m CHOOSING to be this way? I’d have to be out of my mind to choose to do that!”
I agree. And that’s why you came to a counselor.
So now that you know what causes depression, the next blog to come your way will be WHY you choose to depress. I welcome any and all of your responses to these blogs.
Coming Next Week: Why People Choose to Depress
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