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Before I get started sharing about Mindfulness, I will bring into focus a word that to many has a negative charge, something that is far too personal to talk about, kind of embarrassing. maybe even seen and felt as a personal failure. Something weak. Most of us prefer to keep it hidden from others and just try to deal with it in our own way. Be with IT. Struggle. HIDE. Others are not even aware they are suffering from it.

It is called DEPRESSION.

We just do not wake up one morning suddenly feeling depressed. It does not sneak into you at night to surprise you in the morning. No, it is a journey involved. A story. Chemical in-balance. Yourself. Others. Life. Choices. Environment. Society.

Let's look into this in more depth.

I feel this subject is exceptional "current" and we need to bring this common disorder up to the surface, share and talk about it with each other. Ask for help. Look into oneself and see what can be done, and how...Mindfulness will be one part of this self help which I will talk about another day.

#1 Psychological Disorder in the West

Major depression has become a huge problem and it is growing. As written above, depression is currently the number one Psychological disorder in The West and it has the second heaviest burden on society with around 1 in 20 people suffering. If continue increase at this rate it will be the 2nd most disabling condition in the world by 2020, behind heart disease. Women appear to suffer about twice as much as men. It is growing in all age groups, in virtually every community and the growth is seen most in the young, closely followed by the generation immediately senior to them. By the time you get to 50, when existential questions might start to press, rates dwindle. Above 60 they ease off quite sharply.

The latest study by Australian researchers shows that depression is not a by-product of the vapidity of western materialism. Depression simply isn't that picky and when it comes to depressive disorders, parts of North Africa and the Middle East (Algeria, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan) suffer more than North America and Western Europe.

Japan fared the best, along with Australia and New Zealand, (the researchers caveated their work by acknowledging that data is patchy from some parts of the world).

Intriguingly UK and US, countries in which reporting on mental illness and cultural reflections of depression are rapidly multiplying, appear to be far less badly afflicted than parts of Africa and Eastern Europe.

What Is Major or Clinical Depression?

Most people feel sad or low at some point in their lives. But clinical depression is marked by a depressed mood most of the day, particularly in the morning, and a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships - symptoms that are present every day for at least 2 weeks.

In addition, according to the DSM-5 (a manual used to diagnose mental health conditions) you may have other symptoms with major depression.

Those symptoms might include:

  • Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day

  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day

  • Impaired concentration, indecisiveness

  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day

  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day

  • Restlessness or feeling slowed down

  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

  • Significant weight loss or gain (a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month)

Facts on major depression

Clinical or major depression is growing at an incredible rate.

  • People of all ages, backgrounds, lifestyles, and nationalities suffer from major depression, with a few exceptions.

  • Up to 20% of people experience symptoms of depression.

  • 10 times more people suffer from major depression now than in 1945 (This clearly shows that the root cause of most depression is not a chemical imbalance. Human genes do not change that fast.

  • The average age of first onset of major depression is 25-29

A few key areas of society remain where major depression is not seen. Also, the huge increase in cases of major depression show that it can't be a disease.

Yet, it is estimated 35 to 40 million Americans living today will suffer from major depression at some time during their lives, with about half of this amount suffering from recurring depression symptoms.

This isn't due to more people telling their doctor. In fact, a major issue when considering the effect of major depression on society as a whole is the amount of misdiagnosis, or cases where major depression goes undiagnosed.

Major depression and suicide

  • About a quarter of suicides in the US are felt to be due to undiagnosed, or misdiagnosed major depression.

  • Up to 80% of suicide deaths are in sufferers of major depression.

Given that suicide is the 8th largest cause of death in the US, it's no wonder that major depression is classed as "the nation's leading mental health problem".

Even these horrific numbers may not reveal the true picture, given that many suicides will be disguised as accidental death.

Why the sudden increase?

Societies that breed depression, and societies that don't

It is a fact that we all have basic emotional needs that must be met for us to thrive and enjoy life.

After the primary human needs for food, water and shelter come commonly shared emotional and physical needs. Without exception we find depressed people are not getting these needs met.

Traditional communities naturally meet many 'basic needs' for emotional support. In the traditional Amish society in the US major depression is almost unknown, as it is in the equally traditional Kaluli tribe of New Guinea. In these societies individual concerns are group concerns and vice-versa. You know that if you have a problem other people will help you and you are expected to help out when others need support.

We know we are meant to do these things but it's not a 'built in feature' of modern society in the same way.

These days we are much more 'self-focused'. The idea of considering the wider community to be more important than the self is almost impossible to understand for most people.

The escalation in the problem, as well as the facts relating to recurring episodes of depression show that while the first line treatment of depression by antidepressants may sometimes control the symptoms, it usually does little to give sufferers depression-free lives. The US government has controlled most of the research about effective treatments for depression, the cost to society is real and we need to find the best way at beating depression for good.

More than ever, we need to look at alternatives to drugs that will equip us to deal effectively with the triggers that allow depression to take hold again and again. This is where drug treatments fail.

Here is where I find MINDFULNESS comes in. It is like a DIY (do it yourself), but a DIY with a hell of a lot of personal care, quality control and total self-awareness. Not a cheap fix. But it is a good start, a DIY that protects you from having your house falling apart. It might not act as your life insurance, but it is surely an excellent start to protect yourself from falling into the hole.

It becomes a lifestyle - for you, maybe a new one? ....

It did to me.

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