There may be evidence that depression can be due to a genetic predisposition, it runs in the family. Does this mean we simply accept as part of our identity whatever it is our forebears may have suffered from?
Recently neuroscience has discovered that the brain is much less ‘fixed’ than was once thought. It has been demonstrated the brain has a degree of neuroplasticity. What this means is that the brain has the ability to be ‘rewired’ through retraining.
This opens up the concept that we need not be the victim of inheritance, that we can, if we choose, through training, reconfigure our neural pathways to some degree.
After all a lot of genetically inherited traits are ones that were ‘learned’ and committed to long term memory by our forebears. A very recent study showed that mice trained to have an aversion to a particular smell. Passed on that aversion genetically.
What was once learned either by ourselves or by our ancestors has the potential to be unlearned.
But what about depression being caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain?
Try a little experiment. Think of a food you really like, imagine it, the smell, the taste, the appearance. Notice anything? Is your mouth watering a little? Maybe your stomach is making a noise or two? You just caused numerous physical and chemical reactions to occur in your body merely by thinking about something that is entirely imaginary.
You can cause a range of physiological effects throughout your body just by thinking different things that evoke a strong emotion. A first love, a lost pet, a frightening experience for example.
Would it be totally beyond the realms of possibility to consider that our minds reactions to perceived stress may be causing chemicals in our brains to be released in an imbalanced way?
This simple experiment demonstrates the power the mind can have on the body when we guide it to evoke a memory that has strong emotional associations. What’s really interesting is that it also points to a ‘doorway’ through which we can consciously evoke emotions or feelings and directly affect our physiology.
You are the awareness that observes all that happens in your physical body, you are not depressed, your mind is. When you are feeling depressed or in any state of dis-ease you have become totally identified with the mind. You, the one listening to the mind, believing all it says, completely and without question.
I have written a guidebook describing some techniques that may help move beyond perceived limitations. Its on amazon, and from the 10th Dec free for a while. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H6U3JEQ
Scientologists have been doing this for years. That is why they are so anti-drug and anti-psychiatrist. You can do this yourself. No kidding. Yeah, I know there is so much negative stuff on the internet about them, but it is pretty much all BS put out there by people who don’t like it when others do well.
@paintedbeings, hi, that is an interesting question. I expect retraining of the child’s brain would have to take place in the form of carefully crafted play activities and story telling as the concepts would probably to abstract for the child to fully understand.
In theory a child would be a good subject as they generally have less ‘mental baggage’, and are more capable of ‘being in the moment’ when they play etc. It would just take some thought to design play activities and stories that incorporate the concepts. I think one of the most important things for a child is that they feel safe.
@pedleydan, hi, I am not aware of Scientology to any great degree, thanks for sharing.
I don’t think you need to be affiliated to any religion to apply the knowledge greater self awareness to yourself. It seems most religions have at their core, once you strip away the politics, dogma etc, some very sound advice on living at peace.
@joshbb, It’s interesting. There is no doubt that depression can be cured by the determination and power of the human mind. After all, it is the mind that creates it in the first place.
I have to say, the point you make in your title about it not being your identity is a mistake that many people make, which makes it much more difficult to overcome. They say “I am depressed” as opposed to “I have depression”. It becomes part of who they are and it’s difficult to let go of part of who you are. Even that small shift in mindset makes it a hell of a lot easier to fight. I see it as a dark cloak. It masks you and covers you, making it hard to see the light and beauty of the world around you until you accept this as this clouded view of the world. It’s so close contact, you believe it is part of you but it’s not. It’s just your perception. It can be tore off, the difficulty of which is dependent on how close the cloak is wrapped around you but it can be done.
@caoimhesweeney, I agree, our mind likes to hold tightly what is familiar, depression and other conditions can easily become a persons identity because the label seems to offer an explanation as to why they are feeling the way they do, it is actually comforting, and that is what the mind likes..
To dis-identify with the condition label, and, as you state, say ‘i have depression etc’ rather than ‘i am depressed’ can be a big task for some as it means consciously letting go of what they perceive as part of, or all of their identity, as it may have been present within the psych for many years and be very familiar. This is something the fear driven mind will resist,
It takes technique and practice to dissolve the false beliefs and to dis- identify that you are a condition rather than you are experiencing a condition driven by the thinking mind
Liberating the you, the being that listens to the mind, from the thinking mind, is, i believe the key to restoring mental balance. cheers,, Josh
@caoimhesweeney, @joshbb, The reason it is attributed to identity is because when you are suffering from it, you are it. There isn’t anything else but your mind. If your mind is suffering from depression, guess what, so are you, because you are one in the same. However, mindfulness and releasing resistance are nice tools to subside bad feelings in the moment, they can’t really help you get over the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, emptiness, disconnection from social circle, disconnection from self, lack of enjoyment, and low energy. And there are many in this generation who have felt the grip of depression for the better part of their life and whose identity and processes of thought have been intertwined with these feelings and emotions that they assumed were normal. There is no cure for mental disorder because we don’t know enough about them to cure them. And teaching yourself to practice connectedness, well- being, passion, and healthy living is something that is overlooked in many psychotherapy practices and in the cultural conciousness of our times. There is no quick fix, it isn’t simply a disorder of the mind, it is a disorder of self, and there are no ABC’s to depression because everyone manifest and expresses it differently and uniquely. Depression, like every other disorder, should be accepted and managed, you can’t just escape it.
@yaelalonso, thanks for the input, i agree, you cant escape your mind, but you can notice that there is your mind and your being. I do think that the mind is only part of your being and that it can totally take over so that it feels as if it is the entire you.
The mind it a tool that constructs things, our being is ‘behind’ our mind. If we can learn techniques to differentiate between what are at the end of the day, just thoughts, and our beingness that resides quietly in the background, then we can regain some authority on the mind. this is because ewe can see it for what it is, very noisy and wanting to be in control all the time, but still only a construction tool.
Fully realising this through practice is not a magic bullet cure all. However, what it does is give you some perspective, to observe what your mind is saying to you, rather than to be totally absorbed by it. It can provide some ‘breathing space’ inside and allow you to be more compassionate with yourself rather than punishing yourself all the time.
I suffer from relatively mild but still quite paralyzing depressed mood (and some psychotic states of mind as well).
Depression as a chemical imbalance or structural deficiency seems to be a very flawed model. Many people suddenly recover from depression, which doesn’t make sense if that’s the case. There are no known reliable indicators as well.
It’s good that you attempt to dispell the notion that we are hopeless victims of our brains.
Though I think it is important to be honest as well and that there is no simple cure or method that reliably works. Personally often I feel unable or unwilling to really execute any method in the first place, and whatever words I am reading seem empty – it sorta all seems the same whether it’s about curing depression or about cooking or whatever – so it doesn’t seem that any book could be of much use for me.
Mostly reading anything tends to confuse me because I can’t properly process language emotionally and mentally.
For me, achieving freedom from depression is very personal, and involves letting go or transforming your sense of self, which is a really subtle and intimate thing.
@benjayk, @joshbb, Agreed, but like Ben said, the model is flawed. There is no evidence there is anything other than the mind. Even when people get over the major symptoms of their depression, they are still changed, it changes them, because it is them. You can’t go through something so stressful as depression and be able to come out the same person you were. Your mind, and therefore you, change. The mind is obviously complex, so complex that it has created analytic and aware thought processes that have evolutionary developed in a cultural sense. If we begin to describe the mind as a single entity, we will better understand not only disorder, but thinking in general. Thought, it seems to me, is merely an expression of basic instincts, needs, and wants that are then manipulated into ideas, language, philosophy, science, etc. We are simple animals with an misunderstood tool. We have to change the paradigm of scientific thought in order to better tackle these issues.
@yaelalonso, Of course you change! Everything you experience in life changes you. I know I came out a much stronger, happier person after depression. Yet, just because something changes you, it doesn’t mean it is you. It’s an experience that you have. My brother was diagnosed with cancer. It also changed me and my mindset, but it cannot claim that my brothers cancer was me. I can’t claim that the range of emotions experienced while he was sick, was me. They weren’t and still aren’t. Emotions do not define a person unless you let them. Depression does not define a person unless you let it.
Depression only becomes an identity when you allow it to become an identity. It is only when you stop identifying yourself with it, that you can let it go, no matter what method you use to cure depression.
Like @benjayk, says, people can suddenly recover from depression. If it is part of your whole identity, how can some people just swipe it off? Don’t get me wrong, I know that it’s not that simple all the time but, in some cases, it is.
@caoimhesweeney, People who suddenly become undepressed are usually suffering from reactive depression, where the brain is reacting to certain chemical imbalances or emotional stress.that the person is experiencing. Those are, of course, serious, but to compare them to long term depression is like comparing the flu to HIV. Yes, the flu sucks and it could feel like you’re dying, but HIV is obviously a long term and long lasting debilitation. Are there ways to cope? Of course. Depression may not be you, but to create a mythical idea of ‘being’ to try to mediate the idea that you are depressed is delusional in and of itself. You are you. If you feel sad today, you’re sad. Can you not be sad, yes, is it easy, probably not. That is like depression.