Even though depression is classified as a mood disorder, traceable to the brain’s inability to react properly to inner and outer stress, it affects the whole body. It throws off bodily rhythms, in terms of sleep irregularity. It causes a loss of interest in sex and decreases appetite.
Depressed people meet eating and making love with fatigued indifference. In social situations, they feel disconnected. They cannot clearly understand what other people are saying to them; they can’t express to others how they feel – being with others is a disturbing blur.The brain is involved in all these full-body symptoms.
Depression is caused by a trigger, but the trigger can be so small that it passes unnoticed. Once it has been triggered the first time, the brain changes, and then in the future it takes smaller and smaller triggers to enter depression, until finally almost none is needed.When that happens, the person becomes a prisoner of the runaway emotions that can lead to mood disorders.
So let’s look at depression as a fixed behaviour. Fixed behaviours have three components: First, an early outside cause, often since forgotten. Second, a response to that cause, which for some reason is unhealthy or unexamined. Third, a longstanding habit that becomes automatic.
When depression goes wrong, all three components are to blame:
Outside causes: Outside events can make anyone depressed.During the severe 2008 economic recession, 60 percent of people who lost their job say it made them anxious or depressed. The number is much higher among workers who had been laid off for more than a year. If you subject yourself to enough stress over a long period of time, depression is much more likely. Long-term stress can be caused by a boring job, a sour relationship, prolonged stretches of loneliness and social isolation, and chronic disease.To some extent, a depressed person is reacting to bad circumstances, either now or in the past.
The response: An outside cause cannot make you depressed unless you respond in a certain way. People who are depressed learned long ago to have a skewed response, such as the following, when something went wrong in their lives:
It’s my fault.
I’m not good enough.
Nothing will work out.
I knew things would go wrong.
I can’t do anything about it.
It was just a matter of time.
The habit of being depressed: Once you have a depressed response, it reinforces the next response when you face a new stress from the outside world. Did your first boyfriend dump you? Then it’s natural to fear that the second one might, also. Some people can manage this fear, but for others it looms large. Instead of daring to find a second boyfriend who is more loving and loyal, they turn the blame and fear inward. They keep having depressed responses, generated from the inside, and after a while these responses turn into a habit. The three elements – outside causes, the depressed response, and the habit of depression – offer a new approach. They give you the power to reverse the underlying conditions of your depression. We aren’t saying that the cause of depression has been found, because in the end your depression is entangled with everything else in your life, including everything that is going on in your body.
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