Life is about learning and experiences. We learn the most difficult lessons in life through experiences – experience is our greatest teacher. We value the information we gain through experiences and we keep it in our memory for decades. The brain has a big storage capacity, although the brain does discard meaningless information on a regular basis. But the important information that is significant to us is not lost.
Everyday life experiences do have an impact on memory storage and how it works. There is a correlation between our memory power and our life experiences. So it is not surprising that people suffering from depression show memory problems in certain areas. The brain has a tendency to suppress some memories; the most painful memories. So the emotions and feelings attached to those memories are also suppressed. This is to control the pain that is affiliated with those feelings.
Depression is a defence mechanism, where we opt out of confronting our nemesis. What I mean by confronting is “forgiving”; in depression, we become incapable of forgiving ourselves. We ascribe all negative events to ourselves – we are willing to “blame” ourselves but not forgive. We ferociously and relentlessly continue to beat ourselves with “blame”. It is this feeling of guilt that fuels depression. This is depression.
I wish to emphasise that in my view these “feelings of guilt” are the main culprit of depression, the key vital component that instigates this melancholy. All other symptoms of depression are secondary and a consequence of this. This feeling of guilt consequently takes its toll on one’s self-esteem. As the self-perception is impaired, the feelings of worthlessness begin to dominate one’s life. Learned helplessness combined with hopelessness keeps the individual in a vicious circle of depression.
Symptoms of Depression
Persistent low mood for at least two weeks:
1. Constant feelings of sadness, irritability, or tension
2. Decreased interest or pleasure in usual activities.
3. Loss of energy, feeling tired despite lack of activity
4. A change in appetite, with significant weight loss or weight gain
5. A change in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or sleeping too much
6. Restlessness or feeling slowed down
7. Decreased ability to make decisions or concentrate
8. Feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
9. Thoughts of suicide or death
Though some of the common symptoms are listed above, one important symptom of prolonged depression is anhedonia. This usually occurs in severe depression, whereby the sufferers lose their ability to experience a pleasure. They basically stop laughing. They feel empty, sad and dejected; unable to feel any pleasure from activities they once enjoyed. Evidently, the mind, body and environment are all affected by depression. These three components ‘the mind, body, and environment’ are interlinked and they all interact and affect each other. They impact each other in a compelling manner.
We do not yet have a complete and thorough understanding of depression. We lack vital information about the causes of depression. We do know that it is on the increase everywhere, it is now becoming a global problem. The economic costs of this debilitating melancholy to businesses are rising annually. We are very much still at a loss as to how to control it.
Depression is usually triggered by an event; sometimes a traumatic event. Hence, there is no single identifiable cause of depression. Some people are born prone to depression. But I do not think genetics cause depression, the genes just make individuals prone to it. Researchers confirm that depression is in the mind, it is in the brain. There appears to be a chemical imbalance in the brain. The deficiency of serotonin in the brain is often related to a feeling of depression. Therefore some sufferers are prescribed Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) in some cases to establish and maintain equilibrium. However, dependency on SSRI drugs should be avoided. In cases of major depression, drug therapy is necessary along with verbal therapy.
For mild depression, I do not think a biological solution is the best remedy for social problems. In most cases, verbal therapies are often enough to relieve symptoms of depression. Putting feelings into words has a therapeutic effect and usually helps the sufferers by (1) releasing the emotions and (2) by the process of exploring their own inner-self. And thus the first step towards restoring the mind begins.