What is Depression?

Depression is often described as a chemical imbalance of the brain and put under the heading of ‘mental illness’. However, depression is not an illness, it’s a natural response to certain types of emotional introspection.

Clinical Depression (which by the way is when you have been diagnosed with depression by a doctor) is often said to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and this is what most drug treatments are based on. Certainly in many cases, there is a reduction in the amount of certain neurotransmitters, like serotonin, found in depressed people.

However, low serotonin levels are simply a symptom of depression, not the cause. The more negative introspection you carry out, and the fewer pleasure-giving activities you participate in, the lower your serotonin levels become. Drug therapies only work for some people but many who do get positive results stop taking them because the side effects are worse than the depression symptoms they are supposed to be treating.

The bottom line is:

Depression can lead to chemical changes in the brain, which return to normal once your depression lifts.

Recovery from depression is made much harder than it needs to be by the statements made by the media or well meaning family and friends. You may assume that once you have depression, you’ll never recover. That is simply not correct.

Interestingly, depression is much more common, in fact**  10 times more common, since 1945. That means you are 10 times more likely to suffer from depression than 50 years ago. Surely this challenges the theory that all depression is due to a chemical imbalance because human biology cannot change that quickly. In traditional communities, such as the Kaluli tribe in New Guinea, major depressive disorders are almost unknown.

The truth is that no medical authority is really sure how to describe what depression is because it’s all about emotions, feelings and thoughts. Depression is often best explained by someone who is feeling it. Very often you don’t know why you’re depressed only that your life has come to a stand still because you can’t be bothered to lift your head in order to see your own potential. We know what that feels like.

Here at the Beat Depression Program we know what depression is:

depression is an emotional block which has become so powerful, it overrides all other emotions. It blocks the ability to feel lasting happiness because and takes the sufferer back to the default position of ‘hopelessness’.

We believe that it’s not so important to try and identify why you’re depressed but to look at ways you can recover from the depression. You are depressed because you have come to an emotional standstill. Why? We cannot say. But we can look at ways to help you unblock yourself. Only you can really help yourself and you have to be ready. Hitting a rock bottom is no bad thing because it indicates you are prepared for recovery.

We’ve been there and we’re here to help you recover.

**Ref: Seligman, M. E. P. In J. Buie (1988) 'Me' decades generate depression: individualism erodes commitment to others. APA Monitor, 19, 18. "People born after 1945 were ten times more likely to suffer from depression than people born 50 years earlier."

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