People have suffered from depression for centuries and probably millennia, but there has been a marked increase in the modern world.
Although depression wasn’t a classified diagnosis until the 1950s, statistically the rise of the number of people experiencing it over the last decade is notable. In many cases, our lifestyle choices can have a great impact upon our emotional, physical and psychological well-being.
Here are 7 main causes of the increase in depression and ways in which you can make improvements to your overall well-being by recognizing them.
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1. Lack of Sunlight
We have all heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and most of us in the Northern Hemisphere, do feel a notable dip in mood during the dark, winter months. Some may take a vitamin D supplement, and this will help a little, as sunlight is converted to vitamin D by the skin. However, lack of light is also apparent in our neurological processes and our third eye.
Already, many of us spend many hours looking at screens on our mobile phones and computers. Some of us sit in offices, lit all day with fluorescent tubes.
Did you know that fluorescent lighting causes light deprivation and energy dips all year round? Have you ever wondered why you feel less tired after a day working from home than you do when you’ve been in the office? It is proven that fluorescent tubes often have a UV range that is beyond the safe range for our eyes and our overall health.
To mitigate these effects, try to go outside in the natural light, sit by a window, and turn off unnatural lighting wherever possible. Also try to look at screens less in the Winter, the backlight in a mobile phone is far worse for our energetic health than the light in a computer or TV screen. It is very likely early and increased exposure to this is linked to the increase in depression in the younger generations.
2. Lifestyle Extremes
There’s nothing wrong with having and healthy, gregarious social lives, but there has been a marked increase in binge drinking of spirits in recent years. The trend of exciting, exotic cocktails is alluring, but the mix of chemicals will still have a marked impact on our physical and mental health. If one is experiencing great highs and euphoria, then the body is secreting hormones to create this feeling. There is no avoidance of the ‘come down’ in this respect. Unnatural highs will always be followed by noticeable ‘lows’.
Enjoy the extremes at your own peril, know that you will feel ‘depressed’ if you have spent a weekend euphoric. This is not a mental health issue, but a chemically induced imbalance that you may or may not choose to experience.
If you are on medication for depression, extreme drinking sessions will further interfere with the chemical balance in the body and cause exacerbation of the initial problems. It could be dangerous!
3. A Poor Diet
We are what we eat and whilst this sounds like a cliché, if you think about it, it’s actually true. Every day (particularly during our deep sleep) we create new cells, and the chemicals available for our body to do so are made available by the food we eat. Sure, the body synthesizes many of its own compounds, but the availability of ingredients to do so comes from nutrition.
Now consider the foods you eat. Are they fresh? Are they vibrant? Or perhaps there are unnatural additives, chemicals or hormones present?
It is near impossible to entirely avoid processed foods, but if you look at the health of the generation prior to the availability of such cuisine, you may well notice the difference. The good news is we create a new cell body every 7 years (in line with the Saturn cycle), the bad news is cell division can only be based on the quality of the original cell.
We can improve our health *now* by improving our diet and increasing our water consumption. I will be writing an article soon which explains more about the power and importance of water!
“All you need is love,” sang the Beatles, and they were correct. It is scientifically proven that hugging releases oxytocin and lowers blood pressure and tension levels. We all need to be touched and feel connected to others at times, and in a society with increasing isolation, we are seeing the impact of loneliness on physical and mental health.
There is no easy societal cure for this, we can only look at improving our personal connections with others and where this is not easy we can look at substituting human love for affectionate pets.
We all need love, acceptance, and kindness in our lives. Animals are masters of unconditional love and unfortunately, humans seem to have evolved away from it, but we can make a concerted effort to display these qualities in our lives.
There is a ripple effect to random acts of kindness, and deep down we all want to feel included and accepted in the world. Make a difference. #bekind
5. Too Much Self-focus
In a media environment where the adjective ‘narcissism’ is now considered a personality disorder, it is clear that excessive focus upon the self has become a social problem.
Whether ‘narcissism’ is indeed a mental health issue, or simply a way of judging others in a blame-based mob, remains to be seen. What is clear is that social media is bad for our overall mental health.
For a century and a half propaganda has increasingly pushed upon us the archetype of the ‘ideal man’ or the ‘ideal woman’, with trends changing and insecurities increasing decade to decade. As more and more platforms buy into the notion that ‘sex’ sells; that attraction is based upon physical perfection and beauty is status, we find ourselves living in a vacuous, image-driven world where people are so desperate to ‘fit in’ they’ve forgotten who they really are.
Again, we cannot cure our environment, but by helping others; offering our support, time, and energy to those who are in need, we may start to gain a sense of perspective.
For anybody who saw the episode of ‘Friends’ that concluded there was no such thing as an unselfish act, you will remember that this was because it is impossible to be loving and kind, without it having an uplifting and enriching effect upon one’s own well-being. Try it and see!
6. Following the News
People often tell me that they follow the news daily as they feel it’s important to know what’s going on. I say ask them how useful it is to know about pain and suffering when they can do nothing (or are not willing) to help?
Of course, there is a balance in –between here, we do need to understand a certain amount of what is happening globally, but by constantly filling our minds with negative information, we are causing a sinking, helpless depression deep within ourselves. Or worse still, we become numb, to the point that we don’t even empathize or care if we see somebody suffering; so often have we witnessed it already.
Further to this, the media always has an agenda, approved and subsidized as it is by the richer and more powerful icons in the world. It is in the best interests of the authorities that the masses remain fearful, divided, and in no position to stage any kind of rebellion or opposition to oppressive policies.
As always the anti-dote is love. Why not try to interact with the causes that mean the most to you? Focus on the areas where you can make an impact and have a voice?
Perhaps look at how a newspaper is reporting about somebody’s character and imagine how you would feel if those allegations were about you? We all have flaws and parts of our lives which could be exaggerated to demonize us, empathy and forgiveness need to be the commodity in this life. Gossip, judgment, and derision cause ill health, just as much as fear, oppression, and helplessness do.
7. Not Enough Sleep
It seems simple to mention sleep, but insomnia has increased in recent years and whether this is to do with Wi-Fi, electric lighting, or over-use of our mobile phones, it is an issue!
Sleep is when we process new information, develop mechanisms to deal with stress/problems, and create new cells which allow us to fight off disease, aging, and illness.
Overall; sleep is integral to health on every level.
So how do we make sure we get enough of it? Firstly allowing ourselves to be tired helps, if we spend our days driving around, sitting in sedentary jobs and never actually walking, or using our bodies, then the melatonin which makes us sleepy may remain absent. Just as many of us are more sensitive to caffeine than we realize and may benefit from ensuring we don’t have it for 12 hours prior to bedtime.
Regular exercise is the obvious solution to the above, as it helps us to clear our minds, as well as helping the body to regulate its circadian rhythms.
Other sleep aids are yoga and meditation, both of which help us to focus on our breathing and clear our minds. A good physical relationship with your partner can have an equally healthy effect!
Herbal sleep aids include; lavender oil on your pillow, or a cuddly toy, rescue remedy for those who are stressed and Bach remedy white chestnut, for over-thinking. Also, valerian tea can have a powerful effect, and the milder choices of chamomile, or a magnesium supplement which is said to help regulate our sleep and our overall well-being also.
Endnote: the one thing that we often forget in the modern world is that our ancestors used to get together in the evenings and tell stories, sing folk songs and laugh together. Whilst it is difficult to re-introduce outdated cultural ‘norms’, it is possible to make time for uplifting and connective events that make our lives so much more enjoyable.
Shalom, blessings, and sweet dreams to you all~~~