Everyone is Depressed and No One is Doing Anything About It - Pt 2
We have examined how our macro society can affect the psyche of each individual person. The policies and actions of our elected officials have a direct and subconscious toll on each individual in the kingdom. Whether it is the subtle indication that some are less valuable than others for senseless reasons like biology or taste, or that few of us are truly free to
express our observations for fear of financial, social, or professional downfall. These caveats to our freedom are reinforced and
imprinted deeply with the aid of the high-dollar media machine.
Let us take a deeper look now at the factors that contribute to personal depression on a micro level in our ever more digitally-connected and physically-distant culture.
From the bottom up, an examination of an individual’s goals and motivations are necessary to determine his or her level of risk. While the risk for mental illness cannot be determined solely by external factors, those same variables are very crucial to whether or not a person will suffer a little, a lot, or at all from non-genetic mental illnesses like depression or personality disorder.
A person’s lack of real direction is a serious indicator of not just existing depression but can also point towards an impending episode. Life can be difficult to justify when a person does not have a thing to strive for. A goal to achieve. Communities often serve this need for individuals. Whether the common interest is video games, rock climbing, professional skills, or substance consumption, groups of people tend to look out for each other and share with one another. For others, the target is professional achievement or some kind of gain in the form of financial, home, relational, or other stability. It basically boils down to how a person defines his or her own value and what is required to raise that value. Some of us gauge our influence on and interactions with others as the indicator of our value while others choose to use personal property or gain as the measure.
Fundamentally, a person’s own self-viewed worth can often be volatile because of the indicators chosen for or by that same person. This is a significant factor in depression.
Up until now, the discourse has stuck to social issues. While those things are very important in the influence of a person’s psyche, they are not the only factors. There are physical and biological factors as well. To say that one is independent of the other is not only ignorant, but very dangerous.
Diet and neurochemical composition are extremely important to the mental health of an individual. These things are not just suddenly important when a person is able to comprehend and control them. They’re firing on all synapses before birth and they continue until physical death or severe physical damage.
These factors are often downplayed by our society while overplayed by some professional mental health philosophies. Medication has its place and it is almost never helpful without therapy and diet regulation. We have seen a lot of suicides within short periods of time after SSRI administration. Although no hard scientific relationship has been unanimously agreed upon, the evidence is out there. If the litany of harmful side effects rattled off in a hushed tone at the end of every pharmaceutical advertisement is not enough of an indicator that we have not yet as a society figured out how to properly implement medication safely and effectively, just look at this review from 2016 which concluded that antidepressants raise the risk of suicide.
The research has been done and through the scientific method humans have discovered plenty of relationship between the things we put into our bodies and how those things affect the way we feel. We have also uncovered how to manipulate a person’s mental state through external stimuli. Could it be that we place more value on the revenue gained from inducing vulnerable mental states in consumers than what those states actually do to the targets after they have paid up? Perhaps it is our profit-first mentality that allows us to ignore our responsibility to each other. Or is it that we truly just do not care about how the effects of our efforts play out?
Either way, the conclusion is not a positive one. Can a person take these things into account and disregard the negative outcomes? If so, can such a person be thoroughly billed as mentally healthy and without delusion?
So what can we really do about this problem of rampant depression and mental illness in our culture when the culture as a whole itself is so mentally ill?
For about fifty years the art of self-expression has been heralded as the gold standard of personal freedom in the first world. Through this time period, the idea of community has transformed. It used to be that your community was comprised of the people around you with which you share your environment regardless of biology, interest, or profession. In the past five decades that has changed and what we have now is something very different. Communities are smaller and more distant than ever. In urban areas, neighbors aren’t usually considered to be members of one’s own community. We define community members now as others with common interest, or gender, or skin color, or religion. This has effectively driven us from one another and allowed us to become able to ignore the interests of the person next to us because we do not consider that person to be in our community. What’s more is that we do not seem to have a problem with this.
Notice that during the time where our own individual self-interests became the most important driving force for our existence, a lot of bad things have happened. We stopped breaking new frontiers in outer space. We stopped innovating (until very recently) energy technology. We have been at war constantly. We have destroyed countless countries and cultures without pause. While plenty of people have protested, they have done nothing else about it. We have believed for far too long that marching in the streets and waving signs changes anything. We have done it for fifty years and very little has changed because of it. No war has been ended or curtailed by citizen protest. No one has ever been held accountable for crashing our economy or rigging our elections either. Protest is nothing more than ineffective when it is executed by individuals. It is nothing more than art to be observed, appreciated, and forgotten.
We do not need to go back to the old way. We need to move forward out of this intermediary period where the individual is perceived erroneously as more powerful than a community of individuals. Legal racial equality was not gained in the USA from protest. It was achieved through action inside the workings of government by groups of people who worked together. Marriage equality also came about through the same means. Equal voting rights for citizens in the United States came through action of boycott, strike, and leverage against positions of power in the government.
We lost our ability to affect our government and make it serve us and our interests because we care more about our individual gain than anything else. Because we are conditioned to think in extremes, we see this idea of community as communism which is evil according to our position. The ironic thing about this belief is that our philosophy is leading our society to the exact same downfall that the communist Soviet Union suffered in the 1980’s: no one really believes in anything but we all just play along because dissent is the devil.
If we could reclaim our power as communities and wield it intelligently, we could eliminate the empty, hopeless feelings that permeate ourselves. Through action which brings about desired results on a wide-ranging scale, we can eliminate the depressing aspects of our culture. This is how we can eradicate racial and gender inequality in the social contexts. We did so in the legal arena and then gave up and now we are left half a century later with the fallout of that premature self-satisfaction.
Furthermore, through more tightly-knit and active community, we as individuals begin to eliminate our loneliness and solitude; which, especially in our hyper-connected world of the now, are two of the darkest and furthest reaching emotions among young adults in urban areas where people are most densely packed.
How long will it take for many of us to see that everyone is depressed and no one is doing anything about it? How much longer will it be until we collectively realize that the opportunity to change is diminishing?
The real question is this: Knowing all of these things and how to fix the problems, will we actually have any interest in doing so? Or will our own individualistic self-interests become even more powerful as the sole motivation for existence while the few who break from it battle crippling depression and suicide?