Despite what you may hear on the news, we are currently living in what many would consider being the best time in human history. People are living longer, chronic disease is at an all-time low, and worldwide poverty has been steadily declining for years. To put it simply, things are looking up. Or at least they should be. See, despite living in a time of health and abundance, we are less happy than ever before. Rates of depression are higher than they have ever been – and it certainly doesn’t look as if they will stop rising anytime soon. Which, when we consider the leaps and bounds that our healthcare system has made over the last few decades, is a pretty staggering thing to consider. And the reason? People are failing to address the real cause of their depression.
Why do Many Modern Depression Treatments Fail?
Many medical practitioners look at depression from a completely chemical perspective. They simply believe that depression is the result of an imbalance in brain chemicals, that results in alterations in mood. As a result, depression is commonly “treated” with antidepressants – being medications that provide a specific dose of these chemicals directly into your brain. These chemicals regulate brain function, thus reducing depressive feelings. But – and this is very terrifying – it has been shown that between 65 and 80 percent of all people who are put on antidepressants will fall back into a vicious cycle of depression within the year. As in, they will return to a depressed state in less than 12 months. This isn’t the case for modern solutions like TMS depression therapy where 45% achieve complete remission. In short, antidepressants do not work all that well in the long run. They are nothing but a simple band-aid, that act to cover up the symptoms of depression, without addressing the underlying causes. Which begs the question: how can we solve the real cause of depression? Well, it comes down to connection.
Connection and Depression
Many people believe that depression stems from a lack of connection. You see, the onset of depression is very much related to how you live your daily life. As a human being, you have several important and ingrained psychological needs – needs that you have evolved to meet over a millennium. And unfortunately, many of these needs are not being met by modern culture. As humans, we have an innate need to connect with the people around us. We need to belong to a tribe and contribute at a societal level. Subsequently, if you feel your work is meaningless, you have few (if any) meaningful relationships, and if you are lonely, then depression is likely to ensue. In this manner, depression is not a disease, but a sign – a sign that your ingrained human needs are not being met. Which is why solving depression can come down to 4 key factors.
1) We need to feel we belong to a group
Our innate need of belonging to a group stems from the earliest part of human existence. We lived not individually, but as a tribe of likeminded individuals who were constantly working towards the single common goal of surviving. We had meaningful interactions on a daily basis. Our actions immediately impacted every single person around us, and as a result, we were connected to one another on a very deep level. However, in the modern day, we have lost this. Our interactions have become both superficial and fueled by technology. We rarely discuss what we are truly feeling, and subsequently, the number of meaningful interactions we have each day has declined at a terrifyingly rapid rate. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Find likeminded people to spend your free time with. Find people that allow you to voice your opinions, share your beliefs, and ensure that you are never afraid to speak openly and freely. Find your tribe, and find your happiness.
2) We need to feel we have a stable future
We have a deep and inherent need for stability. Living paycheck to paycheck with a dark cloud of uncertainty over your head is stressful. This alone will place a serious burden on your mind – and then when you combine it with the risk of being only one big bill away from poverty, well, the whole situation can be disastrous. As human beings, we need certainty. We need a roof over our head and the knowledge that there will be a tomorrow to not only survive but to thrive. As a result, we need to get our own life sorted in every aspect. We need financial and lifestyle stability. This means managing your finances so that you can put away a small amount every paycheck. This means cutting unnecessary costs and actively choosing to live below your means. It means finding stability, and the knowledge that you will be safe tomorrow, irrespective of any uncertainties. It means being certain of your future.
3) We need to feel that we are valued
Feeling valued meets the deeply human desire to be needed. Whether this comes from friends, family, or a significant other, it doesn’t really matter – if our efforts are recognized and appreciated, then we have reason to continue every single day. However, if we don’t have this value, we can fall into a deep pit of wondering “what’s the point?” Now, it is important to note that feeling valued comes from one single thing: Giving. This could mean giving your time to a charity, taking the time to help out a friend, or taking your partner out for dinner. Each of these involves giving to someone for the sole purpose of helping them – which is always valued. The thing to remember here is that you are not doing this for any ulterior motive. Not for recognition, nor for anything in return – you are doing it because you care, because you value them, and because you deserve to be valued. Feeling valued will stem from this.
4) We need to feel we have meaning and purpose in our lives.
Lastly, we need meaning. We need purpose. You need to strive and work for something that is bigger than yourself. You need to find something that is truly worth getting out of bed for every morning. To put it simply, you need to find your passion, and chase your meaning. This may mean finding a job that resonates with you deeply. It may come with investing your life into your family and making sure that they can thrive. It could come with volunteer work, or even spending your time working towards a passion project (writing a book is an example that comes to mind). The key is finding a reason to work hard every single day – because if you find this meaning, then you find happiness.
Take Home Message
Modern-day depression treatments may help rectify the problem in the short term, but they do very little in the long run. This is because to beat depression for good, you need to rip it out at the root. This means making sure your life meets each of your four fundamental human needs – only then will you cure your depression for good and find a lifetime of happiness in the process.