There are many opinions about what causes depression, and my purpose here is not to argue with any of them, because I believe they all have merit and are worthy of further investigation. What crosses my path the most, however, is the causal relationship between what you eat and how much you exercise – along with chemical or hormonal deficiencies in the brain – and depression. I’m of the evidence-based understanding that all of these are true causes, but I’m also someone who’s known to always argue until proven otherwise. This marks in me an important scientific trait – the gift of questioning what was once fact with new information.
Depression: Diet & Exercise?
My argument has always been this: if you’re eating improperly and it’s making you depressed, then why are you eating improperly? If you don’t exercise and you’re causing a chemical imbalance in your brain, why are you not exercising? If you really do have a chemical or hormonal imbalance in the brain, why is that? Is it just a mistake that your brain, claimed to be the most complex thing we know of in the universe besides the universe itself, made a mistake?
Let’s be clear – I’ve never met a client whose depression could not be categorized by one or all of the causes that float around the internet, so I’m not arguing against there being a physical medical cause for depression. But what I have found consistently with all my depressive clients is that imbalanced brains originate from stress traumas. Their brain gets locked into continuously releasing a chemical response to a memory that the person can’t let go, and as a result the brain can’t let it go. I’ve found that my clients who don’t exercise have a reason not to, or can’t see a reason to exercise because their life is so unfulfilling. If you’re not inspired by your life, you tend not to care how your body looks or functions.
I’ve also found that people who don’t eat properly really are not tuned into to their true being. All the people I’ve met who anyone would claim is attractively authentic, eats well. It’s a natural thing to do when you love yourself. But there’s also the other extreme – eating so well that you become depressed that everyone else is eating garbage.
All in all, what I’ve found in my clients corresponds exactly to what I have learned during my studies with many well-informed psychologists – that depression is a function of the brain, and is really an expression of feelings of frustration, disappointment, and worthlessness, all of which are a normal effect of trying to be someone you’re not and/or expecting someone else to be someone they’re not. I’ve had many people argue with me on this and I usually end up saying, “argue for your problem and you deserve to have more of it,” because I’m more interested in solving the challenge than debating causality.
That said, I do want to mention the argument of “I just woke up one day and I had depression,” because I’ve never found this to be true. There’s always something, the night before or close to that morning date, where some area of the person’s life was being massively and suddenly disrupted. But all of our lives undergo changes, so what is it that makes a person more susceptible depression?
The truth is, whenever you are not working on empowering YOUR life, you’re going to be depressed.
Depression A Disease?
I don’t look at depression as a disease. I never did. I look at it as an intelligent brain’s reaction to a person that is too focused on lying about a balanced universe. I see depression as a gift – something that occurs to let you know where to pay more attention and grow out of an uninspiring lifestyle or thinking process. It’s an effect of a cause, but the cause is mostly personal.
Reality is as it is. We make it to be good or bad, but when you keep expecting life to be good when it keeps dropping anvils on you, you’ll eventually feel frustrated and disappointed. That’s 2 out of the 3 core feelings of depression taken care of in one expectation. This is the biggest component that I’ve seen – expecting yourself, another person, or the world to be positive without any negatives; it is seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.
Every depression case I’ve ever had come through my office or my Skype has had this going on. They are avoiding feeling pain and distracting themselves with an illusion that life should only include happiness and pleasure. I’ve met more depressed people who are always trying to be nice than I have people who love being nice and mean. In fact, I’ve seen that the more a person loves both their nice and mean sides, the more they love both sides of others and the world, and the less depressed they are about all of it. As a result, they accomplish more with their lives because they’re not locked into expecting life to be any way other than what it is. They embrace the flow of living and expect both sides to occur at all times.
Then there’s the last one – worthlessness. The easiest way to feel worthless is to compare yourself to others whom you admire or to the vision you have for your life that hasn’t happened yet. This is where depression really got me. I’m someone who has a massive vision to create and it’s easy to look at it and say, “there’s no way I’ll ever get there.” Thing is, I am getting there, and if I can, so can you. What I learned about getting there is that you can embrace the successes of others by honoring your own. I also learned that if you break down your vision into small enough actions, you can achieve it over realistic time-frames. Most importantly though, I learned that you don’t need to get rid of half of yourself or your life to love it. I think that’s the key to solving depression – learning to love life it as it is.
Stephan Gardner is a Life Performance, Personal Development & Psychology Specialist who helps people achieve mental well being through a luminary understanding of human behaviour, emotions and life transformation. A teacher of personal and spiritual development and dedicated Yoga practitioner, his mission is to inspire you to reach life fulfillment through inspired work, wisdom, and love. www.stephangardner.com
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