Reasons for Depression
Reaction to loss: The idea here is that loss of something to which great importance is assigned results in a loss of self-esteem. If a person's self-esteem is conditional and based on pride, which demands a particular outcome that is not achieved, or one loses something in which a great deal of pride has been invested, mental anguish (stress, worry, anxiety, self-rejection, shame, humiliation, etc.) results. Over time, if nothing improves, the cumulative emotional aftereffects of the loss become unendurable; and eventually depression ensues, as a coping mechanism. Loss may also be accompanied by guilt and the belief that one should punish oneself for some real or imagined transgression (see below).
Suppression of anger: When in a relationship with another person, uncontrolled anger threatens harmony and stability and may result in rejection or other undesirable consequences. Also, a person may feel guilty about expressing or just feeling anger. Therefore, in order to maintain peace and tranquility and allay guilt, a person may choose to suppress or repress his/her anger toward the other person. This will likely result in depression, especially if the anger is strong and the reasons for it continue unabated.
Guilt and self-punishment: A person may blame himself/herself for something bad that has happened, whether guilty or not. Some people are overly responsible and guilt-prone and tend to assume blame irregardless of whose fault (if anybody's) some problem is. Thus, they may punish themselves with depression. The logic here is that by becoming depressed they are admitting that they are blameworthy for an unfortunate situation or outcome and proving how sorry they truly are. Depression is thought to be an atonement for wrongdoing or sin. By punishing themselves they hope to avert rejection and punishment by others. Additionally, a religious person may punish himself/herself in order to appease God or some deity. Typically, such a person sees himself/herself as bad, defective, or inferior and supposedly deserving of punishment. Depression may be used not only to punish oneself for some misdeed in the present but also to prevent oneself from doing something bad, wrong, or sinful in the future.
Conflict or lack of control: A conflict that appears to be unresolvable can lead to depression. Such a conflict is also referred to as a double-bind or catch-22. All solutions that are contemplated are seen as having undesirable or negative consequences. There seems to be no way out of a difficult situation that is causing much unhappiness and mental distress and is producing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A person feels relatively powerless to do anything about his/her miserable condition, although desperately wanting to do so. He/she feels like a caged animal, struggling to escape. The greater perception of helplessness and hopelessness, the deeper the despair and despondency. Any undesirable situation in which their is real or imagined loss of control can result in depression.
Self-protection: When someone has had uncontrollably terrible experiences in the past, the mental distress and emotional suffering produced by those experiences may have been unbearable, creating an urgent desire to escape. A good example would be the firsthand experience of war or some traumatic event. But also anything threatening the loss of self-esteem, such as failure or rejection, may have caused psychological turmoil and suffering. In the future, in order to prevent a reoccurrence of similar experiences, a person may become depressed in order to avoid doing things that are risky--that is, anything that may result in a repetition of earlier mental anguish and pain. In other words, someone may choose to play it safe and be depressed rather than taking chances and risking additional failure and rejection. Since doing many things in life requires taking some risk, a person who chooses depression as a lifestyle will generally lead a restrictive, constrictive, and constrained existence. However, for such a person the unhappy trade-off is acceptable, because the alternative is seen as much worse. In summary, depression can be a defense mechanism, keeping one from engaging in behavior that might lead to further adverse consequences.
Self-control: This is not about ordinary but, instead, about extreme self-control. The idea here is to stop a part of oneself from doing something that is perceived of as being wrong and, it is believed, will lead to undesirable or dire consequences. It involves an overly strict, even punitive, superego attempting to completely control the ego. The ego (individual self) has its own ideas and beliefs and wants to do certain things, but the superego (internalized authority figures--i.e. parents) strongly disapproves. First guilt and fear (anxiety) are used as deterrents, to persuade the ego to give up its wayward intentions. But if that does not work, a more drastic measure is enacted by the superego: namely, depression (repression). Depression can thus be seen as an extreme form of self-control or self-restraint. Its purpose is to prevent oneself from doing anything that is thought to be a violation of external rules of authority, which will result in some kind of punishment. It is analogous to putting someone in jail before he/she commits a crime or placing someone in a straitjacket so he/she will not hurt himself/herself or others.
Childhood myths: People who become depressed later in life believe things that are untrue--about themselves, about others, and about God. In other words, they base their lives upon falsehoods. Well-meaning parents and other authority figures have taught them what they themselves believe is true, even though it is not. These individuals, in turn, have been taught the untruth by their parents and other persons of authority in their lives. So, the myths of life are perpetuated from generation to generation. A good example would be the false idea that the will of certain individuals is equal or equivalent to the will of God. A child may be taught that if he/she disobeys his/her parents, not only will the parents be angry at him/her but God will be as well. The implication is that the only way placate God is to please one's parents and other similar people. Some parents believe that their children are their property; so, they teach them this lie so as to be able to control them more easily. So, the child (and, later, the adult) lives in guilt, afraid to displease or disobey his/her parents (or similar individuals) lest something terrible happen to him/her. The depressed person is constantly concerned about whether he/she is doing the right thing, because the result of doing the wrong thing seems so horrible. This leads to a paralysis of will and describes the mental torture and emotional prison that is depression. Every adult person who is depressed, actually, thinks and acts in part like a frightened child, still trying hard to obey and please God and his/her parents (even if they have died), anticipating punishment as just recompense for failing to do so.
Childhood rejection: This would include anything that a child experiences as rejection. Neglect, mistreatment, ridicule, criticism, blaming, comparison, shaming, humiliation, and mental or physical abuse are the major forms of rejection. Ideally, parents should accept and love their children unconditionally. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Parents usually bring up their children and treat them the way they were brought up and treated by their parents and others. The result for the child is feelings of worthlessness, guilt, self-dislike, sadness, anxiety, and depression. In fact, depression later in life may be nothing more than a repetition of the original, childhood depression that occurs as the emotional wounds of childhood rejection are reopened due to the subsequent rejection of other individuals who resemble one’s parents.
Chemical imbalances or disease: Any person can become depressed if something goes wrong in the brain. There is a delicate balance between brain chemicals (neurotransmitters); and when that balance is upset, problems occur. In general, when nervous system inhibition is greater than stimulation, depression occurs. Brain damage, illness, sleep disorders, and the use of certain medications and substances are some of the things that can cause depression. Each person’s situation is different and must be dealt with as such.
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