The great depression: a crack in our soul or the decline of society?

This 27-year-old mother of four, called Emma Riches was admitted to an asylum with "puerperal insanity". We would identify this disease now as postnatal depression.

This 27-year-old mother of four, called Emma Riches was admitted to an asylum with “puerperal insanity”. We would identify this disease now as postnatal depression.

Never before have we been so bombarded with news as today. We have come to a point when we know more about our Facebook friend living 10,000 miles away than we know about our next-door neighbor. We could probably fulfil all our needs and cravings, even know all there is to know about the world, without ever stepping out of our homes. Individualism has been around for quite long now but it has reached a peak at the threshold of the 21st century. We all are connected and seeking for social recognition but seriously folks, we are so alone, aren’t we?

Anxious about the state of the world, worried by the void of our own life, we are on the pursuit of a dream most of us cannot attain. Commercials are persuading us that we MUST enjoy life, consume more, be young, slim and attractive, climax easily and frequently,… Society values money-spinners and hard working. As long as we are on the move, we are happily riding on the merry-go-round but once we are kicked out, the world suddenly stops turning. And when nothing makes sense anymore, when sadness is deeply rooted into our soul, we are treading into dark territories.

More than 350 millions are suffering from depression

During Victorian times, if you were suffering from depression or anxiety, you were diagnosed as hysterical. A mental condition which deserved a special treatment, aka the cage! Upset patients were locked into these cages...

During Victorian times, if you were suffering from depression or anxiety, you were diagnosed as hysterical. A mental condition which deserved a special treatment, aka the cage! Upset patients were locked into these cages…

Depression has been around since time immemorial. Today it has become the first major disease in our modern societies. According to the World Health Organization, more than 350 millions people in the world are suffering from depression. Experts are currently talking about an epidemic spreading like wild fire. Recently, we even appallingly found out that a depression can cause a plane crash.

Antidepressants consumption has doubled in a decade (between 2000 and 2011). Countries that you might have thought as not or less affected by this disease, are also touched by the epidemic. In Japan, dozens of thousands people were diagnosed with a depression in the 1990’s. In the year 2000, they were 250,000… and today, more than a million persons are affected. The pharmaceutical industry is rubbing its hand with glee. After all, the reflexion hovers around this thorny issue : are medical drugs designed to cure us, or is the pharmaceutical industry making up new diseases in order to keep the business running?

The definition of a depression appears to be quite hazy, depending on the doctor’s culture and sensitivity, depending as well on the patient whose personal story may alter the definition. What is a depression? According to most reliable sources, it is a mental disorder marked by sadness, low self-esteem and a loss of interest or pleasure in most activities which used to be enjoyable before. The term is however ambiguous and may actually include a wide variety of mood swings, some of them are not falling in the category of real depressions. Which makes the matter substantially complicated. Faith seems to supply a more straightforward answer. It also shows that depression -although not referred as such- has been a major concern for several millennia.

"At Eternity's Gate" (1890) is a masterwork of Vincent Van Gogh, often referred as the icon of despair felt throughout depression.

“At Eternity’s Gate” (1890) is a masterwork of Vincent Van Gogh, often referred as the icon of despair felt throughout depression.

Depression can be found in books you least thought about, such as the Bible. In the Psalms, David in deep despair wrote:

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long,

“Where is your God?” David is expressing his pain into words that we can all relate to, even today. “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? My bones suffer mortal agony.

Depression is clearly identified:

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?”

And I am not even hinting at Job who was left in deep despair and desperately wanted to die. Back in the biblical era, depression was a God-sent challenge, eventually leading to a blessing and the guarantee that God will protect you and your family.

Today we have turned to therapists and group healing sessions. Faith started to fade away and traditional values are slowly crumbling. A clean empty place has been devoted for new ideas, new philosophies to bloom but it seems like the spot remains irrevocably meaningless and deserted.

An individual question that might require a collective answer

We often see depression as an individual consequence to an external cause. Even if the reason for your pain may trace back to external events, you are responsible for your struggle against failure and bid to turn the pages of your life to write another chapter. In nowadays society, sadness is not appropriate anymore. Depression must be treated straight away. There is nowadays a tyranny of happiness which cannot suffer melancholic states or simply a halt in our life. Why can’t we be sad? Why is it so disturbing for society? They say that depression is an individual phase, that this pathology is deeply rooted inside of us and that we have to snap out of it. So we are given huge amounts of antidepressants and possibly therapy. Are we depressed because modern society is not made for man or because we are not always able to follow the movement? Is depression a personal matter or is it a collective issue?

Our society works on gratification. We tend to think that we deserve what we have. If we have a decent job or own a beautiful house, it is because we have worked for this. We take credit for our situation, whether good or bad. Now let’s think about this. Does the child in a warring country deserve starving? Is the worker who has been laid off for economic reasons, responsible for his company’s poor business? How can an individual be accountable for circumstances that are way beyond his grasp? It seems like a collective failure is now a personal matter. Maybe we should try to heal society as a whole before we start pointing our finger at certain persons and blaming them for the bad shape of society. Just an idea…

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2 thoughts on “The great depression: a crack in our soul or the decline of society?

  1. mtwsongbird@comcast.net says:

    Excellent work, Nadine! Such an ever-present issue that no one wishes to acknowledge. You are a most enlightened woman, my friend. I will post this to my facepage when it becomes available to do so.

    Love you much! Give warm regards to Michel and the boys!

  2. Thank you so much, Mary. For your kind words and appreciation. I do treasure your comments and follow-up and you know it. Looking forward to your future trip on Belgian soil. Much love to you.

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