Chapter 4 – Theories About The Causes of Depression and Anxiety
As mentioned in the last chapter, there are disputes in the medical field regarding the causes of depression and anxiety. Some psychiatrists are very Freudian in their belief that this is all about stifled creativity. Others blame genetic makeup. When we talked about Marilyn, we noted that her mother also committed suicide. It appears that mental illness, such as depression and anxiety, can be inherited.
Other doctors blame society. Poverty will cause depression. Take a look at people who are living in poverty for most of their lives. Their faces reflect a kind of blankness as if they don’t care about anything. You can see it from their behavior. The drug use is rampant in poverty stricken areas, as is alcohol use. Why do people think this occurs? It is because the people who are so despondent, who are subjected to misery on a daily basis, tend to look for a quick fix and begin to self medicate. Our answer, as a society, is to arrest them for using drugs.
Some doctors actually blame drugs and alcohol for the depression and anxiety; however they are few and far between. While alcohol does nothing to help those with depression and is, in itself, a depressant, it is the symptom of the disease of depression, not the cause. Alcoholics, like most addicts, suffer from low self esteem, depression and are looking for some way to control part of their environment.
Then there are those in the psychiatric field who believe the illness is physical. We have a chemical imbalance of serotonin in our brains
that must be alleviated by taking medication, called SSRIs. This discovery coincides with the discovery of SSRI medication and promotion by the pharmaceutical companies. There are no medical tests that can determine if those with depression suffer from a chemical imbalance in the brain. As it stands now, this is just another theory as to why some people are prone to depression.
If you ask a priest or a religious person, they will tell you that depression and anxiety are due to a lack of faith. People who have faith in a particular religion seem to suffer less from depression and anxiety. But is the religion the reason why they do not suffer or is it their form of self medication? Just like some people get addicted to alcohol and drugs and use them as a crutch to get through life, others use religion. This is a much less dangerous crutch to an individual, unless they become fanatical to the point where they are causing harm to others.
Some people believe we all have a degree of depression and anxiety. That anxiety is the fear of the unknown that exists in all of us. The thing we fear is death – the one thing that no one wants to face but we all must sooner or later. It can also trigger depression. Freud also said we had a death wish and a life wish. Perhaps depression is a signal of our death wish.
There are many different theories on why people become depressed and anxious. The theories will also dictate the cures or treatments. A medical doctor, for example, will be quick to prescribe drugs. A Freudian psychiatrist may be more apt to try a cognitive therapy. Therapists, hypnotists, acupuncturists, herbalists, priests, doctors and
the guy at the car dealership all have different theories on depression and all have an idea of how it should be treated. Most people in the United States, however, go to the doctor when they are feeling depressed.