Achievers and celebrities like Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemingway, Sigmund Freud, Michael Phelps, Brad Pitt, J K Rowling, Lady Gaga and Deepika Padukone, have all experienced depression at some point in their lives. In the Mahabharata, reputed warrior, the Pandava Prince Arjuna, was so confused, despondent, disillusioned and depressed before the commencement of the war at Kurukshetra that he refused to fight. His state of mind is described vividly in Arjuna Vishada Yoga in the Bhagwad Gita.
The good news is that all of the above persons ultimately emerged triumphant. At times, many of us may suffer from emotional angst, but whether one comes out of it unscathed depends entirely on how we respond to the
A closer look at the dynamics of depression will help us improve our ability to respond in positive ways. Depression, at the deeper level, could be an outcome of conflict between mind and intellect, the critical constructs of our subtle personality. The mind is the epicentre of all our emotions, sentiments and feelings and tends to indulge in sensory perceptions, whereas the intellect bestows upon us the power to think, reflect and discriminate. The mind is subjective, impulsive, restless and vacillating. On the contrary, the intellect is all about logic, rationale, objectivity and self-control.
In a balanced personality, intellect rules while in an emotional personality, the mind rules. In the ensuing tug of war, when the mind overpowers the intellect, it runs riot, often leading to depression. As it is popularly said, “Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.”
Relationship issues could also contribute to that low feeling, which, if left unresolved, could escalate to depression. We may not be adequately equipped to handle emotional aspects that could spiral out of control. Emotions originate in the mind and maturity lies in handling one’s own emotions first before dealing with those of others. Empathetic listening is extremely important in such situations to resolve conflicts and misunderstandings. The problem is that we rarely receive any training in this area before something
happens. Generally, those who experience depression tend to respond in either of two ways – fight or flight. Those who are vulnerable and fragile, and who lack a good support system, may resort to flight behaviour. Hence they may give up. Those who are stronger and who reach out for help, fight the condition and emerge unharmed.
How can we enable the intellect to play a predominant role? This is where the spiritual dimension comes into play. Engaging in spiritual practices like prayer, meditation, listening to discourses and participating in satsangs help in reducing mental agitation and create serenity of mind, thereby shielding against hasty emotional reactions.
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