Why There is More Depression and Anxiety Than Ever, and How You Can Make The Difference.
In the last few years, people have asked me more frequently than before, why are so many people dealing with depression or struggling with anxiety?
There has always been anxiety and depression, and yes people are a more forthcoming now and we know how to diagnose it better than 80 years ago.
But there’s a significant growth in depression and anxiety, and we can’t assign it all to better research methods and more openness of the conversation.
The major cause
The major cause is that our brain is not wired for the modern world we live in.
250.000 years ago, when the human brain started to evolve, we were living in small communities as hunters and gatherers. Our brain could handle the sociality of maybe 80 to 100 people.
Connectedness is one of the most beneficial tool that we can use in therapy for depression and anxiety.
Within these communities there was a lot of exposure to different age groups, generations, and family and we all cared for each other. Often 1 child had 4 mature people who would model, discipline, nurture and instruct the child under the age of 6. Now we have single mums and dads that must care for 4 children on their own!
The ratio has turned around from 4 adults to 1 child to 1 adult to 4 children in some cases. And in addition to that, we have to work, pay bills, and run a household.
Still wondering why depression and anxiety are so high?
How we can make a difference as an individual is to strive for real connection with the people around us. Connectedness is one of the most beneficial therapy tool that we can use in therapy for depression and anxiety.
And this won’t be achieved in seeing a therapist once a week for an hour. You don’t have to be a mental health professional to help someone on their journey to a happier and healthier life.
I don’t believe depression and anxiety are only personal problems. It’s a symptom of a dysfunctional society.
It’s about listening and making an effort to have a genuine conversation with someone. Our brain doesn’t get the happy, safe and soothing chemicals from texting or social media conversations. These happy chemicals will arise when you give someone a hug, have a deeper conversation with someone and when you give real attention.
Yes, therapy or talking to a mental health professional is beneficial to get tools to rewire the brain and talk about what has happened to you.
But I don’t believe depression and anxiety are only personal problems. They are symptoms of a dysfunctional society. A society that makes us feel pressured into living the perfect life, and having to be in a constant happy, resilient and successful mental state. Which is unattainable.
What we CAN achieve is being that person for someone who is struggling. Or when you are the person struggling, reach out to friends and loved ones. Talk about what's going on and ask for them to help you get through the tough period you're in.
Not as a psychologist, but as a friend. A friend that can be a distraction of your sorrows, a shoulder to cry on or someone who listens. It can be a community, a circle of friendship, or the relationship between just two people which can make a difference in someone's life and their wellbeing.
I truly believe everyone has the capability to mean something in someone's journey in life. It's our choice how we fulfill this role!