According to Andrew Weil, MD, “…some substantial percentage of the depression epidemic is manufactured by the medical-pharmaceutical industry.” He goes on to say the industry has convinced many people that ordinary sadness is an abnormal condition, a “disease” that should be treated with drugs.
But even if that “substantial percentage” is removed, Dr, Weil continues, it still leaves us with a huge number of folks with unexplained depression. The number has increased the past 50 years. Depression is particularly widespread in industrialized countries, especially the United States.
Among the possible causes, Dr. Weil says, are information overload, the frantic pace of modern life, social isolation, fast-food diets, lack of exercise, etc.
Social isolation is one of the biggest causes, in his opinion. Modern conveniences and technology, while in some ways bringing us closer together, have in other ways cut us off from personal, face-to-face interactions with other people.
So what’s the answer?
Antidepressants, according to Dr. Weil, are not the answer. They don’t work for over half the people who take them. The reason, he says, is the drugs treat the effects of depression, not its causes. That’s nothing new in traditional western medical practice.
Dr. Weil says one answer is “mindfulness” — or meditation. Mindfulness is “the technique of bringing all of our awareness to the here and now, to the immediate sensations in our bodies and our breathing, for example, rather than letting much of it slip away in contemplation of the past and future or of other subjects that are not present.”
I think that’s also a great description of meditation.
Tests done with mindfulness, Dr. Weil continues, show people who practice it find as much relief as antidepressants give them. It addresses the causes of depression. Seems to me it’s a no-brainer to choose mindfulness (or meditation). However it does take more effort than simply popping a pill.
Many among my family and friends suffer from depression, sometimes severe. Some are on antidepressants. None I’m aware of practice meditation.
When I was much younger I had occasional bouts of depression. But they never lasted more than a day or two. And since I started meditating over 30 years ago, I’ve had no depression at all. Sure, I still have my “down” times and challenges, but they never nosedive into depression.
So I’ve never experienced prolonged or severe depression. But I’ve worked with, and known, enough people over the years who have. I feel the greatest compassion for them.
Here are some of Spirit’s thoughts on depression:
“What is depression? In physical terms, one definition would be, for example, a hole in the ground. The hole is a “depression.” So too, when you are feeling depressed, there is a hole in your human being-ness. But just as a hole in the ground can be easily filled and made ‘whole,’ so too can that hole in your human being-ness be made whole.
“You all have the power to consciously tune into your higher selves. You can do this in any way that feels good and right for you. Meditation is certainly one powerful way to do it.
“By whatever way you do it, when you are tuned into your higher selves, tuned into God, you will find your depression being filled and made whole. Depression — the ‘hole-ness’ — is not who you are. Wholeness is.
“Some of your medical people attribute depression to a ‘chemical imbalance.’ But the chemical imbalance is only your body’s reaction to your misalignment with who you truly are. The depression is not the result of the chemical imbalance. Certainly, the chemical imbalance almost always exists when there is depression. But the chemical imbalance is the inevitable consequence of your disconnection. Your disconnection is the cause of your depression.
“While we have the greatest compassion for those of you experiencing depression, we also want you to remember every one of you is all-wise and all-powerful. That’s how we see you. That’s how your higher selves see you. That’s how God sees you.
“When you see yourselves through our eyes you will move out of your depression. It will be impossible for you to be depressed, no matter what is going on in the world around you. And that includes a medical diagnosis of chemical imbalance.”
Do you or anyone you know suffer from chronic depression? What positive steps can or do you take to lift yourself out of depression? Please comment below.
We welcome your comments and thoughtful opinions. Please keep them kind and compassionate. If needed, we’ll edit for clarity. Also, we’ll delete anything we consider inappropriate.